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Candidates to face off in District 31 primary

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published July 17, 2020


CLINTON TOWNSHIP — On Aug. 4, Bill Sowerby, Michelle Robertson, Austin Negipe and Lisa Valerio-Nowc will vie for a chance to represent District 31 in Lansing this November.

Sowerby, a Democrat from Clinton Township, is the current representative of the district that covers Clinton Township, Fraser and Mount Clemens. He currently serves as the minority vice chair of the Natural Resources Committee and has been a member of the Education Reform Committee and Judiciary Committee.

After serving 20 years as Clinton Township treasurer, Sowerby is running for his third and possibly final two-year term. He faces off against Robertson in the primary.

“I have good experience in government that helps me fight for good issues in Lansing,” he said.

He said each new term and legislative session spurs new challenges, due to different issues that arise, changes in leadership statewide on both sides of the aisle and working with new colleagues voted in by the electorate.

A proponent of strong ethics, he has introduced bipartisan legislation calling for mandatory two-year “cooling off” periods between leaving office and being employed in a lobbying gig. That extends to financial disclosures, gift bans, free meal bans, not receiving entertainment tickets and more.

The issues he has fought for in Lansing have included wage increases, fully funding education for equal statewide learning experience for children, affordable healthcare, protecting women and their right to make their own health decisions, equal employment and wages for all women in the workplace, and protecting and defending the state’s clean water resources.

Fighting for such issues is done because of the constituents, Sowerby said.

“I have to answer to (the residents). I have to make sure I’m representing them and what’s important to them in Lansing. … I have never missed a single meeting and never missed a single vote,” he said. “I’m very proud of that.”

His website is He is also on Facebook at “Vote 4 Sowerby” and can be reached by email at

Valerio-Nowc, a Republican from Clinton Township, is a Chippewa Valley High School graduate and a freelance/substitute librarian by trade. She faces Negipe in the primary.

This is her third time running for this seat. She said she has seen a lot of trust broken between voters and politicians and would like to restore that trust and increase transparency and accountability.

“I expect that of myself,” she said, and she said she demands it from those who represent the citizens.

She also has concerns about healthcare ensuing from the COVID-19 pandemic, saying people should be able to get the best healthcare for themselves and not what is just designated by the government. She praised first responders for their work the past few months, saying, “We should be rallying right now as a community.”

“I love where I live,” Valerio-Nowc said. “I love the community that we have. … I truly believe we need new leadership, and I decided I wanted to give it another shot. I believe my message is strong.”

She also wants to put an emphasis on reading and math skills, including improving reading levels.

For more information, her Facebook page is “Elect Lisa Valerio-NowcMI House 31.”

Roberston and Negipe could not be reached for comment by press time.