Two Northeast Michigan Democrats will vie for their party's nomination as a candidate for the 106th District in the Michigan House of Representatives.
On Aug. 7, voters will decide whether retired firefighter and Alpena County Commissioner Ken Hubbard, or educator and small business co-owner Nicholas Hein will run against incumbent Rep. Peter Pettalia, R-Presque Isle.
Hubbard has been a resident of Alpena for more than 30 years. Along with serving four terms as a county commissioner, he spent much of that time as a firefighter and paramedic with the Alpena Fire Department. By the time he retired in 2010, he had risen to chief of the department. He has two daughters, both of whom are college graduates.
During his time with the department, Hubbard found ways to cut costs and stay within budget, he said. He continues to do so as a county commissioner. The city's finance committee is among the many committees and boards on which he's served.
"I've always worked hard for my community," he said. "I think that's my strong point."
One of the main issues Hubbard hopes to work on as representative is shrinking state monies coming to local governments and schools. In particular, he'd like to see the state reverse its reductions to revenue sharing.
"It's affecting the ability for schools to run, it's affecting the ability to put the sheriff's department, to put patrols on the road," he said. "I feel that needs to be represented at the state."
As an example, Hubbard said Alpena County is looking at losing roughly $100,000 in the next fiscal year. More than half of this would be saved if the county spends the money on a fiscal "dashboard."
"I don't think the way to help local government is to continue to reduce their budget to save the state budget," he said.
While Hubbard agrees small businesses need support, he doesn't think the state's recent $1.8 billion tax break was the right way to do it, he said. The tax break is being applied to large corporations with multiple small locations.
"We could've spent less than 10 percent of the money and done good for about 75 percent of small business," he said.
Hubbard would like to find solutions to these problems and others without casting blame, he said.
"Nobody really knows what peoples' stance is, they just know what the other person did and they don't like," he said.
Hein also would like to see more resources going into Northeast Michigan, he said, along with stronger efforts to market what it has to offer. As a teacher at a public high school, and a juvenile detention facility, education is a very important topic to him.
"If we're ever going to have real conversations about getting rid of poverty, despair, violence, it starts with education," he said.
Bringing in resources and improving area schools could help to grow the economy, including in the private sector, Hein said.
"There's no business in the world who's ever going to move the area where the roads are falling apart and the school systems are going bankrupt," he said. "That does not appeal."
Bringing in small industry should be the district's goal, and this can be accomplished through tax abatements and other incentives at the state and local level, Hein said.
Promoting tourism, along with restocking fish in inland lakes and Lake Huron, also are important for area business, Hein said.
"We're still in an isolated area, but we still have a strong workforce and a beautiful environment for people to enjoy," he said. "We have to advertise this in other areas. It's absolutely critical."
Hein is a native of the Posen area, he said. Along with education, he also has close ties to agriculture, and co-owns a recently opened auto repair garage in Rogers City. He worked at Carmeuse's Calcite quarry for several summers.
It is this diverse background that makes Hein well-suited to be a state representative, he said.
"If you're passing bills in Lansing, you have all sorts of information coming from different sides and different people," he said. "You need to have some sort of a little bit of background in everything, whether it'd be natural resources, business aspects, unions, education."
Jordan Travis can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5688.