1. Please share some of your personal background. What college did you attend? Were you involved in any political organization during your college career? If so, what organization?
State Representative LaMar Lemmons, Jr. has the distinction of being the senior member of one of the few father-son teams to ever serve in the Michigan House of Representatives during the same session. While he represents the residents of the 2nd House District, his son, Lamar Lemmons, III represented the residents of the 3rd House District. LaMar Lemmons, Jr. was born June 23, 1936 in Mississippi and raised in Memphis Tennessee. He moved to Detroit in 1950 where he attended Detroit Public Schools. At the age of seventeen, Lemmons joined the United States Air Force and bravely served his country for almost four years. His service time included a tour of duty at Ashiya Air Force Base, Japan. Upon receiving an honorable discharge from military service, Lemmons returned to Detroit to work for the Ford Motor Company. He later worked and retired from the Eppert Oil Company.
Rep. Lemmons is the owner of Lemmons Transportation, a company that provides drivers and chauffeurs for businesses. Lemmons is the father of four children; Lamar Lemmons, III being the oldest. He attended the Detroit Institute of Technology and is a member of the East Side Business Alliance. Mr. Lemmons college experience was coupled with holding down a full time job which obviated any involvement with interests groups. Rep. Lemmons' son, former State Representative LaMar Lemmons III, (now term limited) is the political force that served as launching pad for his father's political career. After years of being an ardent supporter of his son's political endeavors, Representative Lemmons decided to carry on his son's political mission.
2. How long have you been a part of the party?
Rep Lemmons is a lifetime Democrat. While not being an active member of any civil rights group, Mr. Lemmons was like millions of others, was a participant in many everyday struggles for human dignity in and out of the military.
3. What are your duties?
My duties, along with the rest of the legislators, include making laws which improve the quality of life for all Michigan residents. Specifically, I am the voice of the constituents of the 2nd District on Detroit's eastside. I fight for the traditional social issues associated with the Democratic Party; namely, full employment in gainful jobs, expanded healthcare coverage, lower insurance and incarceration rates, academic excellence, safe streets, etc;.
4. What do you see as the driving force or motivation? What are you personally passionate about in relation to the overall goals of the Democrats?
As a Detroiter I am motivated by the suffering that results from underemployment, usurious insurance rates, the extremely high dropout rate, the staggering amount of foreclosures, the heavy tax burden and dwindling city and state services.
5. What is your opinion or views regarding state politics and state policy overall?
Unfortunately, term limits rob Michigan citizens of effective and knowledgeable legislators. Representatives can be elected to three 2 year terms. The learning curve to acquire both legislative and political savvy averages two full terms. Sadly, a seasoned state representative has only his or her lame duck session to operate at maximum efficiency. In January 2009, forty-six new legislators joined the 110 member Michigan House of Representatives. The institutional memory and expertise possessed by the preceding, 46 former legislators fades virtually fades into oblivion; while lobbyists who do not hold the public's interests sacrosanct, adeptly wield their powerful upper hand fortified by decades accrued knowledge.
6. Has your opinion of state politics and state policy changed as you have become more involved in government?
Yes, my opinion has changed because all politicians rail against catering to special interest groups. Yet, billions of dollars are expended nationally, for the expressed purpose of influencing public policy. One probably does not have to be a rocket scientist to establish a causal linkage between lobbyist dollars and pro lobbyist legislation.
7. Does your constituency have any political party affiliation or does it consider itself independent?
Rep Lemmons eastside Detroit districts is 98% Democratic
8. In the past year or so, what have been your main goals? In the same time frame what have you accomplished in relation to those goals?
Currently, 15,000 of the over 48,000 inmates in Michigan Prisons are eligible for parole. Finally, legislation to re-introduce, a significant number of rehabilitated citizens who have served their minimal sentence to society, is near the top f the agenda. The recent hikes in minimum wages resulted from years of Democratic agitation. We continue seek relief from the economically prohibitive insurance rates endured by Detroiters and we are encouraged by the Governor's appointment of an Insurance Advocate. Now that Michigan economy is diversifying out its automotive roots; we take pride in the efficacy ad scope of the worker educational retraining program called No Worker Left Behind,
9. What have been some of the challenges that you have had to face in accomplishing your goals?
We face a Republican controlled Senate, a shrinking economy, and huge deficits
10. Do you have any "allies" that you work closely with? If so, in what ways do you collaborate with each other to influence state politics or policy?
Our natural allies [are] most member[s] of the social service constituency.
11. Who do you see as opponents? Be it other interest groups or political parties.
Our system is adversarial by nature and the Republicans are the designated opponents.
12. What tactics are you using to influence state public policy?
We use compromise; bloc voting and moral suasion.
13. Would you say that you use direct or indirect tactics to influence state public policy?
As the saying goes politics is the art of compromise. Therefore, we employ any legitimate tactic necessary to accomplish a given goal.
14. Do you involve the general public in reaching the goals and mission of the Democrats? If so, in what ways?
Yes, we sponsor 4-6 Town Hall Forums a year and we also conduct weekly community meetings in our District Office in Detroit.
15. What differences do you see the Democrats making in state politics and policy? Do you think that they have been successful in their mission thus far?
Fortunately, the Democrats have the majority of votes in the House of Representatives for the last two and a half years and we have been able to usher in a wave people-centric laws.