Republican Klint Kesto and Democrat Pam Jackson will face off in the Tuesday, Nov. 6 general election for the 39th state House District seat. State representatives serve two-year terms and are currently paid $71,685 per year.
The following are questions our staff posed to the candidates, and their responses to those questions.
TOP ISSUES: What are the three most important issues for the district at this time, and how do you propose to address them?
TOP ISSUES:No. 1, home values. This is an issue at the heart of everyone in the district. We need to address the issue by seeking serious lending reform and creating regulations to reduce extreme risk-taking by the lending institutions. We also need to reduce foreclosures by creating legislation to encourage and refinancing and loan modifications.
No. 2, create an incentive for small businesses to invest in the district. We need to create an incentive for small businesses to open and ultimately to thrive. The Legislature’s key (goal) is facilitating the environment that allows a business to make a profit and continue to grow. By reducing the tax rate and reforming the business tax, we have seen a surplus in the revenue and a movement toward economic growth. We must continue to reduce regulations and taxes to allow these small businesses to operate successfully.
No. 3, public safety increases. Ultimately, high standards of public safety and a sense of security keep residents in a certain location. There has been a significant increase in “crimes of opportunity” — the break-ins into homes and cars, and the theft crimes. We can create legislation to significantly increase the police and fire staff and keep the “boots on the ground.” I would use the Michigan State Police in more of a high crime investigation capacity and divert their duties away from simple traffic duties. Also, we can create legislation for preliminary hearings and streamline technology to use video testimony — saving money which can be used in other areas.
TOP ISSUES: Education. We need to increase funding for Pre-K and K-12 so that all students have access to quality education, and maintain affordable higher education. Class size is imperative for success. I have taught both in suburban and city school districts. More attention and time are needed to stress ideas and concepts. It is difficult when you have 35-45 students who all need extra help.
Public education must be funded from pre-K and K-12 through affordable post-secondary training or college. School funding was changed with Proposal A and it worked for a while. Other alternatives to funding education need to be explored. Along with this, curriculum must be developed to actuate students’ maximum potential whether they are college-bound or want to learn a skill at a training facility to obtain a job. The number of charter schools and cyber schools needs to be capped as it is draining funds from our public schools and sending these much needed dollars to out-of-state for-profit companies. I will work hard at creating or sponsoring bills to fund public education and post-secondary education so that we invest in our most precious resource: our people.
Jobs. There are many ways to create jobs, but there must be policies in place for current small businesses to grow. We need to create incentives and policies for entrepreneurs and other businesses to make Michigan their home to “hire Michigan first.” Most importantly, we must protect our jobs by ensuring that they are not sent out of state. Our state is hurting desperately with many issues, but getting our people back to work is imperative, as it affects the family, local business, and the overall economic future of Michigan.
We must diversify our energy portfolio to create jobs and energy in Michigan, rather than sending our energy dollars out of state. With the number of Michigan’s vacant plants and our proud manufacturing history, we can lead the nation in manufacturing solar panels and wind turbines that can be used across America and across the globe. The transformation of the old Ford Wixom Plant into an energy park/development could be an example of this change.
We could create a viable, effective and efficient regional mass transit authority that would allow our communities more mobility, save money, create jobs, and build prosperity. A mass transit system would attract businesses and industry to the entire region, therefore creating more jobs. I am glad the bridge has not been built, yet. There is a “green” concrete on the market that does not emit carbon dioxide when it cures, but rather, absorbs it. Solar panels can now be embedded in concrete to create a grid. A grid can be created across the bridge connecting Michigan and Canada. These panels can be manufactured in Michigan. This will be the start of the revitalization of Detroit; a revitalization of Michigan. This would not only be a “state of the art” bridge, but a global model of how two countries created jobs, and implemented technology for renewable energies.
Communities. The most important factor in each community is its people. As of January, retirees had a tax imposed on their pensions. For some, they are deciding between food and their medication. For others, this means less money going into the economy as they have less money to spend on activities outside the home. As your next state representative, I will fight to repeal this pension tax.
Viable communities are safe places to live and we must ensure they maintain their fire and police departments to keep our communities safe. Our district has wonderful parks. Many areas in Commerce and West Bloomfield townships, Wixom, and the village of Wolverine Lake have been making strides for pathways for safe walking and bike riding. Policies for responsible development for our future are important so that we may continue to enjoy these wonderful communities so that they will be here for generations to come.
The environment plays another important role for our community. We are known for our Great Lakes, wonderful parks, and vacation spots: PURE MICHIGAN. It is imperative that we maintain this for future generations. We have over 150 lakes in Oakland County, not to mention the ponds and rivers that connect these lakes. As your next state representative, protecting the environment is important and we must maintain Michigan’s natural beauty. Policies need to be put in place for responsible development and redevelopment of residential and commercial construction as it affects the groundwaters and surrounding environment. “Fracking” or hydraulic fracturing, is taking place in our state and will have a significant impact on our environment and future economy. I will work across the isles with other legislators creating bills/policies to protect our state from this destructive practice of “fracking.”
Klint Kesto, currently an assistant prosecuting attorney, has previously worked for the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Justice. He is a board member of the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Chaldean American Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Michigan State Bar, and a member of the Greater West Bloomfield Republicans.
Pam Jackson has worked as a professor of mathematics, construction management and concrete construction management at Oakland Community College for nearly 30 years. She is the former owner of Elite Building & Construction Co. Jackson has held leadership and officer positions with the Lakes Area Rotary Club, Democrats of West Oakland County, and the Oakland County Democratic Party.