By Michael McPhee
White Lake resident
(State Sen.) Mike Kowall (R-Commerce, Highland, Milford, Walled Lake, Wixom, Wolverine Lake, White Lake, Orchard Lake, West Bloomfield) has itchy feet again! First, he ran for White Lake Township supervisor and quit mid-term to become a state senator. His departure disrupted township business, leaving trustees deadlocked on who’d finish his term. Now, just eight months on the job, he’s running for Congress. If he doesn’t win, he says he’ll just stay in the state Senate and complete his term. But dithering like that hardly sets well. He sought a four-year term and voters obliged him. Now it seems he only wanted the job to bide his time until something better came along. His political wanderlust brings into question the kind of representation he provides. In particular, why do his constituents come up short when lobbyists and big donors do so well?
Mike Kowall got $1,000 from Meijer’s to run for the state Senate. After getting elected, he helped overturn a consumer law that required retailers to price each individual item. Now, shoppers are exposed to overcharges and retail jobs are at risk. Likewise, he backed a controversial tax reform that helped businesses but hurt pensioners and middle-income families. To save taxpayer money, he introduced legislation to curtail special elections while side-stepping the larger issue. These elections are mostly triggered by a career politician, like him, vacating their office early to take a position elsewhere — but nothing to deter a job-hopping politician from disrupting government, again and again. So why do we enable these candidates who seem to serve only special interests and themselves?
We tried to stop them with term limits, hoping to shake up the status quo and rekindle the democratic process, but some politicians just bound from office to office to avoid getting term-limited. Occurring mid-term, it can start a chain reaction of similar events like we had here earlier this year. The ability to game the system must end if our government is ever going to function well.
Reform could start by making authenticity a job requirement for holding office, with candidates taking a vow to finish their term if elected. If they waver later, officeholders ought to be barred from accepting an appointment elsewhere and they shouldn’t be allowed to run for another office until the final months of their term either, unless they resign first and take their chances. In making this so, perhaps the interests of the people will emerge to take precedence.