BAY CITY, MI – Voters in Michigan’s 96th House District in Bay County will decide the race between incumbent state Rep. Brian Elder and Republican challenger Timothy Beson.
The 96th District covers areas in central and southern Bay County such as Bangor Township, the cities of Bay City and Essexville, Bangor, Hampton, Frankenlust, Merrit, Monitor, Portsmouth and Kawkawlin Townships.
Elder holds a law degree from the UCLA School of Law, according to Vote 411. Elder is Democratic vice chair of the House Agriculture Committee and is a member of the Judiciary Committee. He is chair and co-founder of the Michigan Legislative Labor Caucus.
According to Beson’s campaign website, he is a lifelong resident of Bay County and the owner of Beson’s Market. He holds a degree in business management from Saginaw Valley State University and is serving as a school board member for Bangor Township Schools.
Beson won the right to face Elder after coming out ahead of two other Republican candidates – Allen Bauer and Martin Blank – during the August primary election.
MLive Media Group has partnered with the League of Women Voters of Michigan to provide candidate information and other voting resources to readers ahead of 2020 elections on Vote411.
Each candidate was given a list of questions relevant to the office for which they are campaigning. The voter guide can be accessed at vote411.org.
Beson did not respond to requests for comment by MLive about his candidacy and did not answer the Vote411 questions. According to his website, Beson’s campaign focuses on standing for parents and teachers in regards to a safe return to in-person instruction, supporting law enforcement and expanding skilled trades programs.
Here are the Vote411 responses given by Elder:
What is your position on the role of public funding of education in Michigan? What measures do you support/propose to improve educational outcomes and accessibility for all Michigan students?
Elder: The purpose of public education in the State of Michigan is create citizens who are knowledgeable about their form of government, understand math, science, literature and the arts, and are prepared to live as functioning adults. Preparing our students for their future careers is important, but so is making sure that we have citizens that can think critically and help our democracy thrive. We, as citizens, pay for such a system through our taxes, but we have shifted the tax burden away from the wealthiest and largest corporations onto the backs of average citizens. That is wrong.
What policies do you support to increase jobs and help Michigan residents improve their economic positions, in general and given the pandemic?
Elder: As a two-term State Representative, I have consistently voted for and sponsored legislation to help businesses compete and create jobs. With appropriate benchmarks, like increasing actual payroll and requiring that local dollars be used for local companies when possible, we can and should help to grow our economy here in Michigan. In addition, I have consistently supported policies like Prevailing Wage that ensure that when Michigan citizens pay their taxes, those tax dollars are not siphoned off by out of state companies and out of state workers, who have no incentive to stand behind their work.
What state policies do you support regarding Michigan elections, voting and campaign funding? Do you support mailing ballots to all eligible voters?
Elder: I voted yes on Proposal 3, “Promote the Vote”, in 2018, which provides us “no-reason” absentee voting, audits election results, and generally makes it easier to become a voter, if eligible. I support mailing ballots to all voters, if the voter requests that in writing and under oath first. Local clerks are fully qualified and trained to identify voter fraud under such a system. I would like to see the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United overturned, so that we as legislators can tackle the job of eliminating dark money and unlimited contributions from elections. In America, no rich man should count more than us
What actions or policies do you support to protect Michigan’s water, air and land for current and future generations? What is your position on energy efficiency and renewable energy?
Elder: As a life-long angler and hunter, our woods and water are a sacred trust bequeathed to us as citizens. In turn, we are called upon to act as trustees, responsible for turning over these resources to our descendants. Every citizen has a right to drink clean water and breathe clean air. At the same time, stewards have the right to reap certain benefits from the land, and there is a proper balance between job creation and protecting the environment. I support investments that reflect this balance. At the federal level, creation of a new “Smart Grid” is critical for true energy efficiency, and I support renewable energy.
How would you address the racial, economic, health, education, etc. inequities, including Michigan’s 20% of children and 17% of seniors living in poverty?
Elder: The federal government is best suited to address these broad, societal issues. Here in Michigan, we need to increase funding to public education, ensure equal access to that education, regardless of zip code and create an environment friendly to the creation of good paying jobs. A major component of this is to support policies that encourage unions. Membership in a union, empirically, addresses concerns of equal pay for equal work and advancement without regard to race, gender or other immutable traits.
Do you believe that Michigan has a gun violence problem? If so, what measures would you support to alleviate this problem?
Elder: The loss of any human life is a tragedy, whether from a gun, a knife, drugs or drunk driving. As a gun owner, I support the Second Amendment and would encourage readers to become familiar with Justice Scalia’s opinion in D.C. v Heller (2008), or search for my floor speech discussing HB 4474, supporting Concealed Pistol Carry for Military Personnel. However, I stand with the overwhelming majority of citizens who support a universal background check. And I am deeply concerned about the rate of suicide, specifically among our veterans.
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