Michigan’s 13th Senate District is located in Oakland County, and includes the communities of Rochester, Rochester Hills, Troy, Clawson, Royal Oak, Berkley, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, and Madison Heights[i]. Being in one of the most vital economic areas of the state (Southeast Michigan), the district is important for the policy goals of both parties. The current state senator, Republican John Pappageorge, is retiring (term-limited) after serving two terms in the Michigan Senate, making this an open seat race[ii]. The two nominees who will square off in the general election in November are educator Cyndi Peltonen and Allstate Insurance franchise agency owner Marty Knollenberg.
Cyndi Peltonen is the Democratic nominee for the 13th Senate District seat, having won the Democratic Primary on August 5, 2014. Her campaign mission statement is to “Restore funding for our schools and communities; Create jobs by investing in Michigan’s infrastructure; and Be a voice of integrity in Lansing.[iii]” Her biography on her campaign site emphasizes her experiences as a small business manager and as a music educator in multiple school districts over a twenty-six year period. While her focus is primarily on social issues (education, women’s issues, LGBTQ rights, and the environment), Peltonen also has plans to remedy Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure and to create jobs. Peltonen advocates increasing government spending on infrastructure projects in order to stimulate job growth within the state[iv]. One of the more controversial areas where Peltonen wants to alter existing policy is in the charter school program, specifically by eliminating tax revenues being given to for-profit operators of charter schools[v].
Marty Knollenberg attended school within the 13th Senatorial District, and has since owned a small business in the district for 26 years. He has previous experience in state government, having served three terms as the Representative from Michigan’s 41st District[vi]. While serving in the legislature Knollenberg chaired the Banking and Financial Services Committee, and served on the Education, Transportation, Commerce, New Economy, and Redistricting Committees[vii]. His campaign message is “We need an experienced leader you can trust, a leader who went to school here, lives here, and works here.[viii]” As a Republican, many of Knollenberg’s strongest policy positions are related to spending and the economy. With regards to senior pensions, Knollenberg is in favor of reducing or eliminating the tax on pensions[ix]. He has published a multi-point plan that outlines several ways to utilize existing revenues to repair Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure without raising taxes, and also offered several potential solutions to stop future road deterioration[x]. Job growth is another crucial component to an economic recovery in Michigan, and Knollenberg doesn’t see heavy government intervention as a viable means to achieving the goal of job growth. He supports “stream-lining” government regulations to make it easier for businesses to create new jobs, and he advocates for more stringent oversight of the educational system[xi].
Knollenberg and Peltonen favor many of the broader views of their respective party platforms. Knollenberg espouses the ideals of fiscal responsibility, limited government, and achieving and maintaining low tax rates. Peltonen favors increased government spending on infrastructure and the educational system, which she feels will stimulate economic growth. Peltonen also emphasizes her desire to be a champion of equality by standing for women’s rights and LGBTQ rights. Knollenberg, an experienced state and county politician, is endorsed by many local politicians and community leaders within the district, while Peltonen, a political novice, is backed by several labor unions, namely the Michigan Educational Association, the United Auto Workers Region 1, and the AFT Michigan[xii].
"Cyndi Peltonen." Cyndi Peltonen. Committee to Elect Cyndi S. Peltonen, n.d. Web. 07 Oct. 2014.
"District." Senator John Pappageorge. Michigan Senate Republicans, 2014. Web. 07 Oct. 2014.
"Marty Knollenberg: My Plan to Fix Our Roads - And Keep Them Fixed." Knollenberg, Marty, and Out-Of-The-Box Solutions To Actually Fix Our Roads. Out-of-the-box Solutions to Actually Fix Our Roads and Keep Them Fixed. Vote Knollenberg on August 5th (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 7 Oct. 2014.
"Marty Knollenberg for State Senate." Marty Knollenberg for State Senate. Marty Knollenberg for State Senate, n.d. Web. 07 Oct. 2014.
"Michigan State Senate District 13." - Ballotpedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2014.
"The Voter's Self Defense System." Project Vote Smart. Project Vote Smart, n.d. Web. 07 Oct. 2014.
[i] “District,” Michigan Senate Republicans, http://www.senatorjohnpappageorge.com/
[iii] “Cyndi Peltonen for State Senate” http://www.cyndi4senate.com (2014)
[iv] “Infrastructure” http://www.cyndi4senate.com/issues/infrastructure (2014)
[v] “Education” http://www.cyndi4senate.com/issues/education (2014)
[vi] “About Marty” http://www.martyknollenberg.com/#!about/c14ro (2014)
[viii] “Why is Marty running?” http://www.martyknollenberg.com/#!why-is-marty-running/c1p5l (2014)
[ix] “Issues” http://www.martyknollenberg.com/#!lessons/cee5 (2014)
[x] “Marty Knollenberg: My Plan to Fix Our Roads – And Keep Them Fixed” http://media.wix.com/ugd/bbabfe_1c008100009248ed9eab2e618f6b07fb.pdf (2014)
[xi] “Issues” http://www.martyknollenberg.com/#!lessons/cee5 (2014)
[xii] “endorsements” http://www.cyndi4senate.com/endorsements (2014)