There's "pocket book," "hot button" and social issues. Then there's the "Sandbox Party."
The group is trying to highlight issues related to children before voters head to the polls for the August primary and the general election in November. Michigan's Children CEO Matt Gillard told WMUK's Gordon Evans that the Sandbox Party started about four years ago among advocates for early childhood programs. Gillard says they've expanded that focus on children issues from "cradle to career."
The entire state Legislature, Michigan's representatives to the U.S. House, Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State are all up for election this year. And there is an open seat for U.S. Senate. But Gillard says the Sandbox Party won't endorse candidates for office. He says the website will provide information about races, candidates and the positions they have taken.
The Sandbox Party website has highlighted a handful of primary races. That includes the Third U.S. House District which includes Battle Creek and Grand Rapids, the 60th state House District, which includes the city of Kalamazoo, and the 80th state House District which includes Allegan County. Gillard says the Third Congressional District and 80th state House District are likely to elect Republicans in the fall, while the 60th state House District will probably go to the Democrats.
Gillard says the Sandbox Party is trying to focus attention on these races now. He says people who care about children's issues need to vote in the August primary, when turnout is normally very low.
Education gets a lot of attention in political races. But Gillard says not all candidates have concrete policy ideas. He says early childhood education, health issues and juvenile justice are among the state issues that are especially important for children and families.
At the national level, Gillard says immigration is an important issue that has major consequences for children that should be an issue in the upcoming election. He says education policy and health care are also important issues for U.S. House and Senate.
Gillard says after the primary, the Sandbox Party will focus on competitive general election races for state Legislature and Congress. He says they will also focus on the statewide races for Governor and U.S. Senate.