The Michigan Legislative District 20 is facing a tight race this month as we head toward the general election. The two candidates with the most support are Margaret O’Brien and Sean McCann – both Michigan natives currently serving in the Michigan House of Representatives.
Margaret O’Brien was born in Kalamazoo and attended Michigan State University, graduating from James Madison College in 1996. Her professional experience involves working as a real estate agent for REMAX and volunteering through Catholic Family Services. Since 2011, she has been serving in the Michigan House of Representatives, district 21. Beginning the 2013 legislative session, she served on four committees: insurance, oversight, tax policy, and transportation and infrastructure. She defeated Ron Zuiderveen with 77.4% of the votes in the Republican primary of this election. Her main issue positions include: jobs, fiscal responsibility, tax reform, education, and energy. She hopes to build a better business climate by reducing burdensome taxes that will send jobs away from Michigan. Her tax reform goals include nailing down a better way to fund essential government services, all while making the tough cuts to be a steward of her constituents tax dollars. Moreover, she plans to restructure road funding by increasing sales tax and repealing the gas tax.
Sean McCann is a Detroit native who attended Western Michigan University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 1993. He served on the Kalamazoo City Commission from 1999-2008. In 2011, he became a Democratic member of the Michigan House of Representatives, district 20. Starting in the 2013 legislative session, he was assigned to aid the Appropriations committee. He voted for legislation that would strengthen education, support seniors, protect the environment, and rebuild a better downtown in the Capital City. He ran unopposed in the Democratic primary of this election. His campaign website lists the most prominent issues, being job creation and economic recovery, education, and constituent service. Concerning job creation, he stated that he plans to “invest in education, ensuring that we have a skilled, dedicated work force motivating employers to seek out and retain Michigan workers for decades to come” (McCann). Furthermore, he believes the rest of the state should invest in education the way Kalamazoo already has (Kalamazoo promise, etc.), and he plans to further this goal. Lastly, he plans to uphold the service of the previous representative with a local, non-partisan commitment.
In their respective 2012 elections, McCann received a Tea Party score of 12% (100% being the ideal rating), and O’Brien received a score of 72%. Both are incredibly interested in fostering education in Michigan, McCann going so far as to say that he hopes to make Michigan a beacon for it. Additionally, McCann received a much higher ranking from the Michigan Clean Water Action – based on their respective voting decisions across 9 bills in relation to environmental issues. McCann supports marriage equality, and while O’Brien doesn’t she is very open to discussing the topic. Moreover, O’Brien claims she is not knowledgeable enough about the use of marijuana to make a firm decision about legalizing in Michigan. Conversely, McCann suggests learning from Colorado and Washington and planning for Michigan accordingly. He hopes to encourage all Michigan police forces to make Marijuana arrests their last priority. McCann voted against the senior pension tax, while O’Brien feels that all incomes should be treated equally in terms of tax reform. Furthermore, McCann said he would support the prospect of early voting due to the possibility of increased turnout, while O’Brien would not rush to make the change, seeing Michigan’s current system as an effective one. O’Brien did not support the minimum wage increase, believing that we should invest in education to encourage our workforce to reach for better occupations, and leave minimum wage work to young people. McCann, however, did support the increase. While the two candidates differ on these viewpoints, overall it seems the two are more alike than different when it comes to the most prominent issues facing Michigan. Both candidates hope to foster education, and both want to rebuild the economy of our state. However, both are hesitant about explaining specific means by which they intend to do this. O’Brien claims to know the struggle of Michigan’s middle class, having been the first in her family to finish college, but McCann may have experience that is more relevant for this district – being that he served on the Kalamazoo city commission for nearly a decade. Their differences run along party lines, but both would be successful in representing the Michigan Senate district 20.
Mitchell, Alex. "Candidates for Michigan Legislature discuss senior issues during forum at Kalamazoo Senior Services." mlive.com. MLive Media Group, 16 Sept. 2014. Web. 3 Oct. 2014.
Mitchell, Alex. "State Rep. Margaret O'Brien talks education, road funding during Kalamazoo Gazette Editorial Board interview." mlive.com. MLive Media Group, 6 Oct. 2014. Web. 6 Oct. 2014.
MargaretObrien.com. Margaret O'Brien For State Senate, n.d. Web. 1 Oct. 2014.
SeanMcCann.com. Sean McCann for State Senate, n.d. Web. 1 Oct. 2014.
TheVoterGuide.mlive.com. MLive Media Group, n.d. Web. 2 Oct. 2014.