Steenland, Warner advance in 22nd District state House race

By: Brian Louwers | C&G Newspapers | Published August 7, 2020

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ROSEVILLE/WARREN — Democrat Richard Steenland and Republican Steven Warner emerged from their respective primary contests Aug. 4 and will now contend for a seat representing District 22, which includes Roseville and part of Warren, in the Michigan House of Representatives.  

Three Democrats and two Republicans squared off in partisan primaries for the legislative seat currently held by Democrat John Chirkun, who has reached the end of his maximum limit of three terms.

In the Democratic primary, Steenland received 4,557 votes, defeating Ryan Nelson and Michael Anderson, who received 2,327 votes and 1,996 votes, respectively.

“Even though the district leans Democratic, I am taking nothing for granted,” Steenland said in an email. “I plan on continuing to work hard to earn the support of everyone in the district, regardless of their political affiliation. After all, you need to do your best to represent everyone the best you can.”

If elected to state representative, the Roseville City Council would appoint someone to complete Steenland’s current term as that city’s clerk.

Steenland said his priorities include finding long-term bipartisan solutions to fix the roads, ensuring that there is access to quality and affordable health insurance and prescription drug coverage by preserving the Healthy Michigan program, and implementing better policies and more innovative approaches, as well as investing in more substance abuse and mental health programs.

“My biggest focus is on restoring the economy and getting past the pandemic,” he wrote. “We need to ensure that we have the equipment, resources, and policies in place to protect our families and avoid further shutdowns while restoring our economy. We also need to invest in funding our public schools, preschool through post-secondary, to give our kids an opportunity for a successful and bright future. It means re-prioritizing existing funds, restoring the economy to increase the tax base, looking at reforming Proposal A, and improving the accessibility and affordability of college and trade schools. We also need to review tax incentives to see if they work and restore revenue sharing so that we can fund important services such as police and fire and road/water infrastructure improvements.”  

Steenland added that he has the experience and expertise to help residents of the 22nd District.

“I have extensive experience in local government, the court system, the administration of elections, labor relations (as a retired member of UAW Local 889, as well as manager of a staff of four), as well as in municipal retirement systems,” he wrote. “I believe that these diverse experiences are necessary to be successful in helping Michigan to become a better and more prosperous state and making state government work better for its citizens. We need to elect individuals that have a background in working collaboratively with fellow elected officials, administrators, the public, unions and stakeholders to come up with common-sense and creative solutions.”

On the Republican side, Warner — a former Warren City Council member who left office under term limits in 2019 — received 2,667 votes, defeating Jeff Bonnell, who received 2,548 votes.

“My message is, I vow to work hard in a bipartisan manner, like I did for 12 years on the City Council,” Warner said Aug. 6. “Being on the City Council has a bipartisan interest. I worked with all types of different personalities. I think I can take the same approach to Lansing. Of course, that goes on both sides. The other side has to work with you.”

Warner said he’d push for a permanent solution to fund repairs to Michigan’s troubled roads.

“We need to get the roads fixed,” he said. “We can’t just throw this on a credit card as we go along.”

He also pledged to work to address projected shortfalls in school funding and other areas as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing shutdowns.

“We have to find adequate funding to ensure the common good and the education for the kids, and of course, there’s getting the budget in line,” Warner said. “There’s going to be budget shortfalls all over the place because of what we went through with the shutdown. It’s kind of reminiscent of what we went through in Warren, and everywhere else, when the economy went south. We trimmed down the budget through attrition with employees, and we might have to make concessions.”

He said while the 22nd District’s seat was held by Chirkun for several years during former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s tenure as the state’s executive, perhaps the electorate would opt to send a Republican to Lansing as a check on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat.  

“Now maybe it’s time to turn the tide,” Warner said.

He vowed to run a “no-nonsense campaign” through literature, social media postings and online information, but he said door-to-door interactions would be limited due to concerns about the coronavirus.

“I don’t know Mr. Steenland. I don’t know anything about his record in Roseville,” Warner said. “That’s for the voters to decide whether they want to move forward with that approach, or if they want some fresh ideas from an opponent on the other side of the aisle.”

Steenland and Warner will compete for the two-year term to represent the city of Roseville and part of the city of Warren in the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

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