The 63rd state House District includes part of Eastern Kalamazoo County and a large swath of Calhoun County. It’s currently represented by state House Speaker Jase Bolger. But he cannot run again because of term limits.
Two Republicans are running for their party’s nomination for state House. Both of them currently hold elected office. Dave Maturen is the chairman of the Kalamazoo County Commission. Vic Potter is President of the Marshall School Board.
Both men say their experience will help them if they are elected to the state Legislature. Maturen says he’s been part of an effort to hold down costs in Kalamazoo County.
“We’ve done a really good job of containing costs and bringing efficiencies to county government, reigning in legacy costs. And I’d like to take that experience to Lansing to take a look at what I can do for the citizens of the state of Michigan and the 63rd district.”
Potter was a key player in the merger of Marshall and Albion High Schools. The first school year is complete and most reports indicate the transition went smoothly despite differences in income, race and other demographics in the districts. Potter says he’s been part of other efforts to collaborate in Marshall and Calhoun County. He says more of that is needed at the state Capitol.
“We’ve got to stop the Democrat and Republican thing so much as what’s best for the people and make it work. So I think my collaboration efforts through the years and my leadership resume through the years make me a good candidate”
Potter says the Albion-Marshall schools merger is a model for the state. He says there’s room for more consolidation in Michigan to help save money on education.
“We have many districts in Calhoun County alone that are very small districts. We as a county and state can’t afford to pay all of these superintendents and all of these business managers, and all of the things that incorporate into school finance. If we can get the costs cut down, and we use our money wisely, as bad as it sounds”
Potter says the state shouldn’t force consolidation. Maturen agrees, saying that the state can encourage school districts and local governments to share expenses and save money for the taxpayers.
“The taxpayers are not going to want to fork over much more money if we can give the kids the same sort of educational opportunities and save some money doing it. I’d be all in favor of that, but it should be locally driven. But maybe with some incentives and maybe some carrots offered by the state”
Both candidates say the state needs to address its crumbling roads. Maturen says he would like to find money for roads in the existing budget. But he says that an increase in the gas tax or vehicle registration fees may have to be considered.
“I wouldn’t be adverse to an increase if in fact that was the only option. That of course would come with some reforms such as guarantees for roads, other type of issues. How we build roads how we go about it. I wouldn’t be in favor of anything unless we got some reforms in how we deal with our road system”
Potter agrees that more money may be needed for roads, but he says voters should have a chance to weigh in on the issue.
“I believe that we should take the sales tax on the gas pump and put it to the roads, instead of the general fund. And I believe the voters should have an opportunity to vote on a one-percent sales tax increase. Then that way the voters have a say in what’s going on. And I think that would be a lot easier to swallow if they had a choice.”
Potter says he would want to go to voters first before any other additional revenue was considered, such as raising vehicle registration fees. Potter also says he would look to find savings in the welfare budget to help fund the roads repairs
The winner of the Republican primary in the 63rd district will face Democrat Bill Farmer in the general election in November.