ALPENA - The League of Women Voters held a candidate forum for the August Primary on Monday at Alpena Community College.
Candidates with primary opponents were invited, including U.S. Representative 1st District, 106th House District, Alpena County commissioners. Ballot proposals were also touched upon at the forum.
In attendance were 106th House of Representative candidates Rozanne Curley, Robert Kennedy and Scot McKenzie; Alpena County commissioner candidates Eric Lawson and Ewald Sommerfield both from District 8 and Bill Petersen from District 4; 1st Congressional candidates Alan Arcand and Rep. Dan Benishek.
Statements were read for commissioner candidates Dave Karschnick (District 3) and Lyle VanWormer (District 4) as they were unable to attend.
Two themes that carried throughout the forum were education and job opportunity.
Curley, Kennedy and McKenzie cited their deep connections to Northeast Michigan with education funding being restored. McKenzie asked the audience why privatization for corporations is stressed instead of restoring funding to the public sectors. Curley stressed the importance of public education.
"We need every dollar back, all of the money stolen needs to be returned," she said.
Kennedy argued the importance of high school students needing to become more aware of what is available in the area in order to keep youth in the area and to entice new businesses to create jobs in Alpena.
Petersen said a leading issue facing the county is in maintaining jobs, specifically for the youth. He suggests a bottom up approach instead of the top down approach to tackle the issue.
Lawson said to make improvements to essential services while protecting the jobs already established, furthermore he believes removing personal property taxes would help small business growth in Alpena.
Sommerfield's approach for both jobs and education is to change the current established school systems to trade skills based on what has occurred in other areas of the world, "our system should switch to a trade like they did in Europe."
Dr. Benishek stressed wanting the same opportunities for our children and grandchildren as he had for himself.
"They don't have the same opportunities. I was able to reach my part of the American Dream," he said.
Arcand stressed his background in the Air Force and in defending Americans' liberties as a candidate in wanting to see government control shrink in order to bring control back to the people. On where jobs need to come from, Arcand argued for expanding the Soo Locks to expand transport of natural resources and promoted oil fracking as a means of creating more jobs in the area.
Benishek supports the need for more flexibility in curriculum in order to provide room for vocational training such as what Alpena Community College already is working toward.
Other topics from the audience included gun control, roads and bridge repair and the financial position of Alpena County.