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Voters will choose candidates for local state House race

By: Kristyne E. Demske | C&G Newspapers | Published July 2, 2020

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ST. CLAIR SHORES/EASTPOINTE — Three Democrats and three Republicans have filed for the chance to represent the 18th District in the state Legislature, a position currently held by state Rep. Kevin Hertel.

Patrick Biange and Christopher Jeffery, both of St. Clair Shores, are competing against Hertel, of St. Clair Shores, to be the Democrat on the ticket for the seat in November.

Biange, 53, has lived in St. Clair Shores since 1994 and in Eastpointe before that. He is an educator who has also served in the U.S. Army. If elected, he said that he would create and endorse legislation that strengthened the education system, environment, economy, health and wellbeing. He supports resource-specific infrastructure funding with maintenance longevity upgrades, a plan to keep Lake St. Clair clean, and occupational training opportunities for unemployed and displaced workers.

Hertel, D-St. Clair Shores, said that he has always focused on being involved in the community and serving the community with legislation he brings forward in Lansing, such as the Wyatt’s Law child abuse registry that he’s been working on and a bill that did become law allowing students to use sunscreen in school.

“We’ve tried to be an office that is transparent, accountable and accessible to all the residents of the district,” he said. “At a time (when) we’re dealing with so many issues at a state level ... I really think it is a time where leadership really matters and folks that have been there and involved in the community really matter, and that’s why I’m running for reelection.”

Jeffery did not return calls for comment by press time.

On the other side of the aisle, Michael Babat and Christine Timmon, both of Eastpointe, and Brian Hakola, of St. Clair Shores, will vie for the Republican slot on the ballot in the August primary election.

Babat said he’s lived in the area all of his life, from Warren to Eastpointe and St. Clair Shores. The communications contractor said he is running because he feels District 18 needs Republican representation in the Legislature, “for a vast number of reasons.”

“The Democratic side and the Republican side seem too far apart, and they need to come together more on other issues,” he said. “I think we need to work together more in a bipartisan fashion.”

Hakola has lived in St. Clair Shores for 35 years and comes from a blue-collar family, he said. He said he is not happy with the status quo.

“I’ve really been saddened, especially of late, in the state of the country and the state of the state, the way politicians have behaved on both sides of the aisle,” he said.

He said he can think of many things that need to change at the state level; the unemployment system, for one. He said the system is antiquated, both technologically and in what it provides for families.

“If you were to receive $1,200 a month, the max you were going to get (without the federal government’s $600 per week added stimulus), how is that to keep a family afloat? The average mortgage payment is anywhere from $700 to $1,000,” he said.

Timmon said she’s also running because “we need some serious changes.”

She wants to focus on immigration reform, reforms for auto loans and auto insurance, as well as job training for youth. Visiting the local district court, she said, “80% of people there (were) kids like 16, 17.”

“Why are you on the street? Why aren’t you in a training program? If they don’t go into a training program, then we have to pay for them in prison,” she said.

Voters will decide which candidate to support in their chosen party during the primary election Aug. 4.

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