Dave Morgan has never held elected office, but is former Chairman of the Calhoun County Democratic Party. He wants to represent the state House District which includes Battle Creek.
Morgan is an Air Force veteran and currently works for Amtrak. He is one of three Democrats running for the 62nd district state House seat. Battle Creek City Commissioner Andy Helmboldt and Terris Todd are also seeking the seat. The current State Representative, Democrat Kate Segal, can't run for re-election because of term limits. Morgan sat down with WMUK's Gordon Evans and Battle Creek Enquirer reporter Jennifer Bowman. A summary:
Morgan says "the funding is there" to fix Michigan's roads. He says not enough of the current tax collected on gasoline goes into roads. Morgan says township supervisors should have more input on how money is spent on roads. He says does not favor increasing taxes or fees to pay for road improvements. Morgan says gas tax revenues are not a sustainable way of funding infrastructure.
Michigan's minimum wage is going up to $9.25 an hour by 2018 because of legislation signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder. Morgan says he would have voted for the increase. He says the proposed ballot measure, which would have raised the minimum wage to $10.10 would have been better. Morgan says families are struggling and small businesses are also struggling. He says "local preference" laws would help small businesses by making sure that governments buy products from the area. Morgan says raising the minimum wage will create savings because families won't require as much government assistance. He says the state should look at taking those savings and subsidizing small businesses with direct payments.
Morgan says every option for saving money and sharing services should be considered. He says school districts could share services like food, transportation and even superintendents.
Asked about medical marijuana, Morgan says it's great if pot can be used for medical purposes. He says it's a waste of government resources to try and prosecute people for using marijuana. Morgan says he views marijuana as a "victimless crime" and would favor legalizing it for recreational purposes.
Governor Snyder has said lawmakers should consider expanding the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to includes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. Morgan says he would support that expansion. He says expanding same-sex marriage is "a tough one." But Morgan says he would probably support it.
Morgan says both parties should be able to work together. He says the Legislature needs more lawmakers that want to serve the people and not just their party. Morgan says "we need to get the D's and R's out of there, and start working for the community."
Discussion of other issues can be heard in the web version of the interview.
Asked about pursuing workforce development on a regional basis, Morgan says "all doors have to be open." He says the state needs a mix of union and non-union jobs to boost the economy. Morgan says there are a lot of different areas to invest and train people for jobs.
Personal Property Tax
A proposal on the August ballot would phase out the state's Personal Property Tax. Morgan says he supports the proposal. He says the tax hurts small business, and Morgan says he believes local governments will get replacement funding.
Morgan says it was unfair to start taxing pension income immediately in 2011. He says if a pension tax was needed, it should have been phased in gradually. Asked about larger changes to the tax system, Morgan says he would like to use the tax to reward companies based in Michigan. He says the sales tax should be less on products made in Michigan.
The issue of campaign finance and influence came up often during the interview. Asked what he would specifically do about it if elected, Morgan says strict laws are needed to limit campaign contributions. He says there should also be stronger conflict of interest laws. Morgan also favors limits on lawmakers moving from the Legislature to lobbying.
Although he has not held elected office, Morgan says as chairman of the Calhoun County Democratic Party he has an understanding of policy and how it is made. Morgan says elected officials need to be held accountable for their time in office.