Laurel Hess, a Canton, MI resident is running for State House District 21.
Party affiliation: Republican Party
Family:Eric Hess, age 52, Husband of 25 years
David Hess, age 21, Son, Senior at University of Alabama
Steven Hess, age 19, Son, Sophomore at New York University
Occupation:Small Business owner for the past 18 years. Also middle school entrepreneurship teacher.
Previous elected experience:None
Family members in government:No
Campaign website: https://www.electlaurelhess.com/
The single most pressing issue facing our state is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
The weakened economy in the wake of COVID and our now high unemployment rate. I intend to look back at what failed and determine why. I am hungry for a solution. Most politicians in Lansing need to be educated about what’s it’s really like all of the thousands of small businesses now struggling to survive. Even pre-pandemic, there were too many unnecessary rules and regulations that small businesses, their employees, and all of us had to navigate. Power needs to be given back to the people. Staying safe and having a robust economy are not mutually exclusive. I intend to 100% open up our state's economy and provide the necessary resources and support small businesses and all of our hard-working residents are going to need to get back on financial track.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
I was born and raised in Wayne County. I raised my boys in my district. I am a moderate, common sense Republican who is committed to serve every citizen in my district regardless of political affiliation. I believe in civility and in treating all people with respect. I believe we all need to work together to solve problems and accomplish goals. We need to get back on that track. I am tired of all the bickering. Michigan citizens deserve better. Relationships in Lansing are fractured and until our elected officials can behave civilly with one another, our state will not heal. I am determined to put partisanship and politicking aside in order to compromise and accomplish what needs to get done. I truly believe most of us in this state are reasonable people who don’t hold extreme views. We need to be the ones setting the agenda…not extremists on either side. My opponent, however, is one of those extremists. He holds very far left extremist views. He was hand-selected by our current Democratic representative to be her predecessor. Holding on to extreme views in Lansing gets nothing accomplished and does not represent half of those in your district. My opponent is also fairly new to Michigan. He just moved here from Chicago a little over three years ago. He doesn't have the experience and deep understand of the amazing people who populate our great state. I decided to run after COVID shut down my business and I was frustrated with how our current state elected officials responded. My opponent has said he's running because he's been drawn to a life of politics. With him, you will get another far left, liberal career politician. With me, you will get a life-long resident of our state who has been called to serve with common sense and negotiate change.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
I am an entrepreneur who has built, run, owned, and operated a successful small business (Jungle Java) in Canton for the past 17 years. As a small business owner, I know that being passionate, persistent, and budget conscious matters. I have also successfully raised two sons who are both attending their out of state dream school on full-scholarships (earned by them) who will both graduate debt free. I went back to school last year to get my teaching certificate and am currently a middle school teacher at a Title 1 school. Not only do I understand small business, but I've gotten a great taste (over the past 2 years) as to what need to change in order to improve education. Every single person who is allowed to make a decision regarding education should be required to spend at least one week in the life as a teacher.
What steps should state government take to bolster economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic for local businesses?
Commercial rent relief! I cannot say that loudly enough. The number one issue facing all small businesses right now is that we are still all contractually obligated to pay full rent each month on businesses that are either still ordered shut down or only allowed to partially operate. Asking business owners to "work with their landlords" is not enough. Landlords are small business people too. Our state government needs to give banks relief. That relief must then be passed down to landlords, who must then pass it down to tenants. And, of course, all businesses still ordered shut down should be allowed to open immediately. Again, staying safe and allowing businesses like movie theaters to open are not mutually exclusive.
How will you address the calls for racial justice and police reform?
White privilege is real and we all need to recognize that fact. Education and opportunities for people of all races is key. As a teacher in a Title 1 school, I see the disparity in education first hand. We need to fund and free up our educators to teach in the ways that benefit their unique districts and demographics. I grew up in a working class home, raised by a single mother, and was a first generation college graduate. We need to have continued dialogue and a seeking to all understand one another. I do not believe in defunding our police. But, I do believe reforms in how our law enforcement are trained is needed across the board.
List other issues that define your campaign platform:
Safely Opening Up Our State
We have all been failed, in some way or another, by those who were supposed to represent us, work in our best interest, and be our voice. There is a way to open our state back up safely. We need a better plan, based on data, that is consistent and less restrictive. If elected, I will take my small business mindset to Lansing and advocate for less government bureaucracy, less restrictions, and more freedom to make our own individual decisions on how to live our lives.
Supporting Small Business & Protecting Your Tax Dollars
We need to look at what failed and why. I am hungry for a solution. Most politicians in Lansing need to be educated about what’s it’s really like for us “small-potato” folks out here. Even pre-pandemic, there were too many unnecessary rules and regulations that small businesses, their employees, and all of us had to navigate. Power needs to be given back to the people.
Investing in Education - K–12 & Higher Ed
Every person who is allowed to make a decision regarding education should spend just one day/week in the life of a teacher. Our education system needs help. And, the effects this pandemic has had on our educational system only shines a brighter light on some of the shortfalls. Funding is an issue, but it's not 100% of the problem. Decision making power over such things as curriculum, etc. needs to be given back to those who work in education and taken away from the politicians in Lansing who simply aren't equipped to make them. Parents need educational choices. We need teachers and administrators with decision making powers and flexibility to teach in a way that they know to be effective.
Accountability & Transparency in Government
Don’t you wish you knew why our elected officials make some of the decisions they do? Yeah, me too! Michigan ranks last in a national study of state ethics and transparency laws. Our state doesn’t have enough laws in place to prevent possible corruption. Our governor and legislature are exempt from state open records laws. I don't believe anyone should be above the law. When our governor makes a decision that drastically effects all of us in the state, we have the right to know why. What data was the decision based on? Who was consulted in the decision-making? What connection do all those involved have the the money-trail? If elected, I will fight hard for more accountability and transparency from all of our lawmakers.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I am 100% committed to representing all of my constituents. I promise to spend as much time as possible actually inside of my district listening to the needs and concerns of the people I represent. I do not pretend to have all of the answers or some "grand plan." I am not going to falsely promise to "fix the roads." But I will listen, I will lead, I will negotiate, and I will work hard for the people of the 21st District every darn day.