ALPENA - U.S. Rep. Gary Peters knows he is going to have big shoes to fill if he is elected to represent Michigan in the United States Senate, but he believes his accomplishments in the House of Representatives has prepared him for a run to replace Sen. Carl Levin who has decided not to run for re-election in 2014.
The Democratic candidate made a brief stop in Alpena on Wednesday as part of his "Listening Tour" and answered questions from local voters. Peters promised that if he is elected he will listen to the wishes of the people in his home state and be a voice for them. Peters already has received endorsements from Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Levin and is expected to run unopposed in the 2014 primary election. He said he has a great deal of respect for Levin, as do most in Washington and hopes to follow in his footsteps.
"Carl has really been a mentor to me and is certainly an iconic figure here in Michigan," Peters said. "He has an incredible record of public service and is held in a high regard because of his integrity. To me he is a model, but I do expect to chart my own course. I do want to be guided by his type of standard where you have to be thinking about Michigan first and the people you represent at all times."
Peters said he has been to Alpena several times and has enjoyed his time here. He said he and his son went on a shipwreck dive in the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and it is one of the best moments he had with his him.
He said more work needs to be done on improving the country's economic condition.
"I'm always focused on the economy. Everything else follows the creation of jobs and the economy," Peters said. "We've gone through a very difficult time. I first got elected in 2009 and we were at the height of the financial chaos and there has been a slow recovery and not as fast as any of us would like, but that is what I'm focused on. How do we get the economy fully recovered and middle class families back on their feet?"
Peters said he played a role in helping the struggling automakers government assistant when the economy collapsed and now the industry is thriving once again. He said now he wants to play a role in protecting the environment, especially the Great Lakes. Peters said he was unaware of Alpena and Michigan's effort to be awarded a Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircrafts by the Federal Aviation Administration, but said he is in favor of the use of unmanned aircrafts for may things.
"Certainly drones are an effective military weapon and in my mind putting a drone in a certain situation is better than putting a pilot's life at risk," Peters said. "There are many applications for drones other than military and it is technology that is advancing at an accelerating pace. They allow us to do great things more efficiently and safely when it comes to fighting fires and things like that."
The primary election is in August 2014 and the general election is in November. Peters also visited Traverse City and Cheboygan before proceeding to Mackinac Island for a conference.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com