Tom Graham and Bronwyn Haltom, both of Kalamazoo, are running for the Republican nomination in the 61st state House district. The winner will face Democrat Christine Morse, also of Kalamazoo, in the Nov. 3 election for the two-year term. Incumbent Rep. Brandt Iden is term-limited. The district includes townships of Schoolcraft, Oshtemo, Prairie Ronde, Texas and the City of Portage. State representatives are paid a base salary of $71,685.
Tom Graham: I love my community. I was born and raised here. I went to Kalamazoo public schools. I’ve had a career here and owned businesses here. My family has been on the same land for 85 years. I have a commitment to Michigan’s future. After the COVID shutdown, riots and an already weak real estate market, we will need to do everything we can to get people back to work safely and as quickly as possible. The state coffers are running low and unemployment demands are still high. State revenue will need to be allocated wisely with economic support as the number one priority. The government’s only tools to support an economy are low taxes (sales, property and income taxes), as well as providing good infrastructure and an educated workforce. State college support is 25 percent of Michigan’s budget. State grants to college students may need to be restricted to degrees that are directly beneficial to Michigan’s economy, and students receiving grants may have to sign legally binding agreements to stay and work in Michigan after graduation. Student flight is a very real problem. We have a long road ahead of us. I hope you find me worthy of your vote.
Bronwyn Haltom: I have a simple reason for running for state representative: I believe in our state and am willing to fight for an even brighter future. I grew up in Oshtemo, went to Kalamazoo Valley Community College before earning my degree at the University of Michigan, and returned home to start a small business with my husband, Thomas. Our state is primed with so much talent and opportunity, but like many of us, I’m worried. Worried about our future. As our state recovers from the damage caused by COVID-19, we must focus on the things that matter to Michiganders – preparing students for the jobs of tomorrow, building better roads, and rebuilding our economy with good jobs right here in our community. My parents, my sister, and myself are small business owners in Kalamazoo County, and I understand the tough decisions being made all across Michigan as we decide how to move our economy forward safely. Our state is truly at a crossroads – do we move forward with the commonsense priorities that revived our state, or fall backwards into another lost decade? I hope to be part of the solution in Lansing that puts partisan politics aside and delivers for our community.