PWIR: Vote!

Tags: elections, Kent County Commission, Michigan Legislature, Michigan primaries, vote

Political Week in Review

As the political voice for Michigan's environment, nothing gets us more revved up at Michigan LCV than an election.

Primary elections are particularly exciting, because in many Michigan districts which lean heavily to one party or the other, the primary will likely predetermine November’s winner. So, if you want to have a say in who represents you in Lansing, make sure you get out tomorrow and vote!

In this week's PWIR, we'll highlight the candidates specifically targeted and endorsed by Michigan LCV in this primary election. Per our electoral philosophy - and as we say so often to candidates and reporters - when we endorse, we back up that endorsement with significant resources. We play to win.

  • Michigan LCV has endorsed one Democrat and one Republican in state legislative primaries to set examples in both parties and remind everyone of a simple truth: Conservation is bipartisan.
  • Farmland preservation is the hot topic in Kent County, which is why these three Republicans have earned our endorsement for the Kent County Commission.
  • As you can see, we've endorsed Republicans and Democrats, and both parties agree that wind energy is a worthy investment, even if Mitt Romney, himself, does not.
  • Elections Matter: Find out where you are voting tomorrow. If you’re unsure, give us a call and we’ll give you all the information you need.

Michigan LCV State House Endorsements

Rob VerHeulen earned our endorsement in West Michigan's 74th District because he reminds us of another Dutch-named Republican who hunted, fished and conserved open spaces: Teddy Roosevelt. VerHeulen has served as the mayor of Walker for over a decade and worked as an attorney for 29 years in private practice and as general counsel for Meijer, Inc. He is widely endorsed by key figures and business leaders from across the region and is well-known for his dedication to opening up public spaces for residents to enjoy the kind of natural vistas that you can only find in West Michigan.

VerHeulen is running for an open seat previously held by Rep. Dave Agema, one of the absolute worst legislators in the House on conservation issues. VerHeulen represents a chance to transform the 74th District to promote conservation while retaining traditional conservative values. Our Conservation Voters of Michigan PAC has already been in touch with every likely voter in his district multiple times; the opportunity to give citizens the the kind of representation they deserve is just too good of an opportunity to miss!

In the 28th District, we've endorsed Jon Switalski in the Democratic primary against Lesia Liss. Both are Democratic incumbents from Warren whose districts were redrawn into one. But that's where the similarities end.

Contrary to some perceptions out there, "Democrat" is not synonymous with environmental protection. Lesia Liss has consistently voted against protections for Michigan's land, air, and water over the past two years, earning her a 38% on our Michigan Environmental Scorecard. That rating tied her for the lowest score among Democrats. Not surprisingly, many Republicans certainly scored better.

Jon Switalski, in stark contrast, has shown consistent leadership on environmental issues, from promoting Complete Streets and advanced battery manufacturing to protecting groundwater, wetlands and state forests. Our electoral work is not just about electing good conservation votes, but conservation champions. Jon Switalski is a champion, and that is why we are fighting so hard to reach his voters on the phones, on the doors, and in the mail to turn out and vote tomorrow.

The Great Lakes don't care about party affiliation, and neither do we. We care about electing leaders who will protect our land, air, and water. These primaries - and the tens of thousands of dollars we are spending in these two races, alone - are meant to serve notice to members of both parties: Stand with the Great Lakes and the ideals of pure Michigan, and we will stand strongly with you; turn your backs on Michigan’s environment, however, and you will be looking for a new job in November.

With over a hundred thousand members across the state and two well-financed (and growing) PACs, we put significant bite behind our bark.

Kent County Commission Hinges on Farmland Preservation

Michigan LCV has endorsed three incumbent Republicans - Gary Rolls, Stan Ponstein and Bill Hirsch - for the Kent County Commission. These three individuals have shown a strong commitment to preserving farmland, promoting agriculture and maintaining Kent County’s rural character through its Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program.

PDR programs allow families to keep farmland intact to pass on to future generations by providing reliable financial support to farmers to keep their land in production, rather than selling their land and opening the way for sprawl. This preserves valuable wildlife habitat and the rural character of agricultural communities, while supporting the traditional use and character of the land. At present, the program to do so in Kent County is in place, but tragically underfunded.

Rolls, Ponstein and Hirsch know the cultural and economic value that farmland provides to Kent County and the necessity of seeing it fully utilized. Michigan LCV is proud to endorse them in their bids to continue their exemplary service on the Kent County Commission.

Bipartisan Support for Wind Energy Incentives

The New York Times headline said it all: "Red and Blue Go Green in Voting for Tax Breaks for Wind Industry." The U.S. Senate Finance Committee voted to extend tax incentives for wind energy projects last week, after Mitt Romney frustrated his own party by opposing the proven economic tool while on his European tour. Mitt forgot that blanket opposition to tax credits may be catnip for some members of the Tea Party, but for wind energy job creators like Steve Smiley of Heron Wind in Traverse City, it just sounds like counterproductive pandering.

In particular, Romney’s remarks didn’t sit well with Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, whose state is already generating over 23% of its electricity from wind power on its way to a 25% by '25 renewable energy goal. As we’ve been saying for years - and especially this one - renewable energy job growth is a non-partisan issue. We hope that Romney will think back to the good ol’ days in the Iowa primary when he was happily signing his name on a new wind turbine blade and un-flip this most recent flop.

Election Matters (because Elections Matter!)

While we've profiled some significant primary races in West and Southeast Michigan, there are important races across the state. Notably, the highest-scoring Republican on the Scorecard, Wayne Schmidt of Traverse City, is facing a primary challenger for the 104th District who is criticizing the Pure Michigan campaign that so critically supports northern Michigan's tourist economy and emphasizes the unique and fragile beauty of our state.

Schmidt has also shown leadership by opposing anti-conservation bills like the Land Cap Bill and the No Stricter than Federal Bill vetoed by Gov. Snyder. He has also voted for pro-conservation bills like creating an Invasive Species Council and funding the Pure Michigan campaign which his opponent opposes.

As I said up top, so many of these primary elections tomorrow are the de facto general elections. Because of this, Michigan LCV staff and volunteers have knocked over 1200 doors across the state in just the last weekend!

Make sure that you exercise your Constitutional right and responsibility to vote tomorrow. If you don’t know where you are voting tomorrow, we’re happy to help! Give us a call at 734-222-9650 and we’ll get you all the details right over the phone. Or, you can simply visit

Be sure you know where you vote, and consider how you'll fit it into your schedule, like whether you'll vote before or after work, or even on your lunch break. The primaries are too important to ignore. See you at the polls tomorrow!

Until next week, 


Ryan Werder

Political Director

Twitter: @rjwerder