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The Future of our Community: Your Local Candidates

The United States General Election is a week away, and over 25 candidates are battling for 8 offices. Students of Forest Hills Eastern: It is our duty as citizens to choose which of these 25 will represent us in our government. Men and women of various backgrounds, cultures, and political parties have stepped up to the plate to compete for your vote, and the burning question is, do you really know who you’re voting for?

Outside of the race for the presidency, many elected positions are up for grabs on the ballot: FHPS School Board Member, Michigan Board of Education Trustee, Michigan Legislature Representative (86th District), U.S Congress Representative (3rd District), and U.S Congress Senator.

To assist you in your duty as an educated voter, we have taken some time to collect information on each of the candidate’s party affiliations, political views, and backgrounds. All of the following information comes directly from the candidates’ respective websites.

United States Senate Candidates

Gary Peters, a member of the Democratic party, studied at MSU, Wayne State Law school, and the University of Detroit Mercy before becoming a financial advisor. He was a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy before serving as a senator for Michigan since 2015.

In order to improve Michigan’s economy, Peters wants to deregulate some industries to allow small businesses and manufacturers to thrive. Peters wants to protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and fight for more affordable prescription drug prices in order to lower health costs for U.S citizens. For rural communities in Michigan, Peters will attempt to boost the agricultural economy by renegotiating NAFTA. In the educational sector, Peters aims to increase access to quality public schools for children of all socioeconomic backgrounds, while making higher education more affordable. He wants to expand apprenticeships, skills training, and career/technical education. In regards to the environment, Peters wants to protect the Great Lakes and Michigan’s water sources by fighting against PFAS pollution, while further regulating the Line 5 pipeline which extends throughout the Mackinac Straits. As a Veteran, Peters wants to expand VA benefits for Agent Orange exposure, along with making VA benefits more accessible.

John James, a member of the Republican party, graduated from West Point Military Academy and joined the U.S Armed Forces, where he became Ranger certified and served in Operation Iraqi freedom. He is the president of James Group International and is a father of 3.

John James believes that deregulating businesses and agriculture is best for Michigan’s economy and environment. He does not support the Green New Deal, and would rather incentivize the private sector to come up with environmental solutions. James supports defunding “sanctuary cities,” and supports Kate’s Law as he believes that unregulated immigration leads to higher crime rates. James supports protecting the 2nd Amendment and is Pro-Life. He wishes to expand women’s rights by modernizing family leave, fighting against sexual harassment, and supporting flexible work schedules. He promises to protect Medicare and Social Security and wants to take a market-centered approach to healthcare. Healthcare, he says, should not be left in the hands of employers—rather, he believes that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) needs to be reformed in order to lower costs and offer patients more options.

Marcia Squier, a member of the Green Party, is a progressive environmental activist. Born in Michigan, she has spent a large amount of her life campaigning to prioritize our populace and planet above corporations and profit. She has not taken any money from PACs and refuses to take large donations from any donors.

Squier wants to fight against congressional actions such as the Patriot Act, and end Super PACS. She supports discontinuing the streak of high spending on the United States Armed Forces and supports universal background checks for firearms. Furthermore, she wants to end mass incarceration and improve the prison system. A major component of her views is her high support for the Green New Deal; furthermore, she believes that the use of renewable energy in order to protect the environment is crucial. In an attempt to support worker’s rights, Squier also aims to increase the federal minimum wage to $15, while blocking tip theft

Valerie L. Willis, a member of the US Taxpayers Party, is a proud conservative who considers herself to be the epitome of the traditional Republican. She believes that Gary Peters is a socialist traitor and that John James has become too liberal to represent Michigan.

She is a proud supporter of the Michigan Militia. She wants to drastically reduce the amount of taxes to only what is completely necessary for the state to function. She is pro-life. She wants to end first-time offender incarceration, so that the US imprisons fewer people, therefore reducing prisons’ budget costs. She supports returning the Michigan Legislature to a part-time position and reducing their pay to  $70,000 annually. She wishes to revise the 17th amendment which prevents state legislatures from electing people for the United States Senate.

Doug Dern, a member of the Natural Law Party, is a graduate of Oklahoma University and Thomas Cooley Law School. He believes that the best way to improve our country is by implementing the original enlightenment ideals that formed the Constitution in the 1700s back into our current government.

He believes that there should be a flat income tax of 10% and that society should follow transcendentalist ideals. He is pro-choice, which  stems from his support of “science over religion.” Dern supports transitioning fully to green energy and would like to see the federal government swiftly shut down coal plants and implement nuclear/air/solar energy sources. He aims to establish a “savings account” for Medicare to reward good health while providing a monetary buffer for people who get sick. Overall, he wants to utilize utopian ideals that were first attempted in the 1800s in societies like the Shakers in order to further our country positively.

United States House of Representatives (3rd District) Candidates

Peter Meijer, a member of the Republican Party, is an Iraq War Veteran born and raised in Grand Rapids. He previously helped pass the post 9/11 GI Bill, and is a graduate of West Point Military Academy. He has previously helped lead humanitarian efforts in South Sudan and the Philippines after Typhoon Yolanda.

Peter Meijer is pro-life. He believes strongly in the freedoms that come from the 2nd amendment and wants to make efforts to support veterans by expanding care for PTSD victims. He wants to tackle the U.S debt by cutting government spending and aims to simplify the tax code in order to make taxes easier to pay for families and businesses. Meijer wants to reform the immigration system to make it merit-based and believes that immigration should be a more rigorous process. Meijer stands with President Trump’s beliefs when it comes to ending wars overseas and preserving strong national security by securing diplomatic ties with nations like Israel. Meijer made a promise to protect the Great Lakes and deal with the PFAS issue plaguing West Michigan. He supports School Choice and the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act (EFSO) that was created by President Trump and Betsy DeVos.

Hillary Scholten, a member of the Democratic Party, comes from a modest middle-class background. She’s a mother of two children and is a devout Christian. She grew up in a low-income area and cites that she gained a lot of her view from her upbringing. She is a graduate from Maryland School of Law and clerked for the U.S Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit) and later for the DOJ in the Obama Administration. More recently she was a member of the Immigration Rights Center and served as a volunteer attorney providing legal services to women who face sexual harassment in the workplace.

She wants to lower the cost of healthcare for families and protect coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Supports protective trade laws to keep manufacturing jobs in Michigan. Expand funding in public schools and support alternatives to college. Negotiate lower drug prices and protect social security. Fight for more federal funding for roads in Michigan. End non-violent drug crime incarcerations. Address marijuana incarcerations.  Invest in PFAS testing, prioritize PFAS cleanup, hold corporate polluters accountable.

Forest Hills School Board

Kristen L. Fauson, a graduate of Cornell University (BA) and Georgetown University (Ph.D.), has lived in Forest Hills for 10 years and is a mother of three. She is the owner of Launch College Consulting, a high school-to-college guidance service.

Fauson believes that the future of education is through innovative strategies as seen in Goodwillie, Project Next, and Kent Innovation High School. She also noted utilizing flipped classrooms and more remote learning. In response to the coronavirus, Fauson wishes to focus more on the social-emotional issues that arise in school children dealing with this crisis. She highlights the importance of listening to FHPS families as well as giving teachers more breathing room to try new innovative teaching strategies instead of being held back because “we’ve always done it that way. She wants to make sure our students are challenged enough to gain the right education and help FHPS become the “shining star of West Michigan.”

Maggie Terryn, a graduate of Calvin College with a degree in education, is a mother of two current FHPS students. She has served as an Odyssey of the Mind coach, middle school teacher, school administrator, and college professor. She has been a part of the education system in Forest Hills for over 20 years.

Her motto for dealing with issues facing the district is to prioritize “what is best for the student.” In response to the coronavirus, she believes wholeheartedly in preemptive planning so that when the time comes to make decisions, the solutions will be best for students and can be easily implemented and accepted by shareholders. She believes her background in education will allow her to shape the future of Forest Hills while enabling teachers to encourage the personal and academic growth of all students.

Robert Tsironis, a fourteen-year resident of Forest Hills, is a fiduciary financial advisor with over 30 years of experience in investment planning, financial management, and financial goal-setting. He is a board member of Blandford Nature Center

Tsironis believes that our school system is the “bedrock of our community.” He wants to utilize his past experiences to bring together diverse groups of people in order to find common ground regarding issues in our district. In order to combat the coronavirus, he insists that virtual technology must be used to augment the efficiency of at-home learning. He established SWIVL and Zoom as the technology and software he would like to see implemented. He is certain that funding will be a serious issue for the district in the future, and wants to use his financial background to reduce the burden that budget cuts may put on our education. Tsironis believes heavily in the relevance of today’s learning and tomorrow’s jobs and opportunities. He wants to further foster relationships between the district and the business community and aims to invest in real-life opportunities for students to get involved in the world around them.

Michael T. Seekell graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA in economics. He has served on the FHPS School Board for eight years, and has served on the FHPS Foundation Board for six. He currently works as a financial advisor, and has over 32 years of experience in the financial field.

As a member of the board, he had the opportunity to directly provide solutions regarding the coronavirus pandemic. He was a part of the process of creating the hybrid schedule system. Even though it wasn’t a perfect solution he noted how it allowed us to kickstart our school year. He supports our district’s “robust STEM program,” and praises project-based learning such as the gone boarding class. His vision for FHPS is for outside students to want to attend the district’s schools because they provide the best education for our students, promote community support and connections, while boosting our local economy.



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