WSW: After Near Miss In 2016, Democrat Jim Haadsma Makes Another Run For State House

Oct 12, 2018

Jim Haadsma
Credit Gordon Evans / WMUK

Jim Haadsma says he’s hopeful that he will part of a Democratic Majority in the Michigan House next year. Haadsma nearly won a seat representing the 62nd House district two years ago, and is seeking the office again this year.

Haadsma narrowly lost to John Bizon in 2016. The Republican Representative is running for state Senate this year. Haadsma is back again challenging for the district that includes the cities of Battle Creek, Springfield, and Albion as well as surrounding townships in Calhoun County. Haadsma says he wants to focus on infrastructure, jobs, education and preserving Medicaid expansion if he is elected to the House.

Infrastructure

Haadsma says water infrastructure is becoming more critical because of high levels of PFASes at several sites including Springfield. He says the state should strengthen the standards for PFAS in water and drop the amount allowed from 70 to seven parts per trillion. Haadsma says he would also urge the Attorney General to sue entities responsible for PFASes being in the water supply. Haadsma says he would like the state to increase tipping fees at landfills to bring in more revenue to address issues such as PFASes. Haadsma says local units of government can collaborate on roads. He says Calhoun and Jackson County were able to consolidate road operations while Haadsma served on the Calhoun County Commission.

Jobs

Haadsma says a region needs infrastructure and shovel ready sites on which to build to bring new jobs. He says it also requires a state of the art workforce. Haadsma says good roads and bridges also required to attract new businesses.

Education

Asked about assessing schools, Haadsma says the state keeps trying different testing methods. And the latest M-STEP scores were down compared to a year ago. Haadsma says it’s difficult to do qualitative assessment through those tests, but he says it’s hard to evaluate schools without some testing. Haadsma says the state needs to invest more in early childhood education and in “wrap around” programming in elementary schools such as social workers and school nurses. He says teachers also need smaller class sizes.

Pipelines

Haadsma says the anchor strike earlier this year on Enbridge’s Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac shows how big a risk it is to keep the pipeline there. Haadsma says the long-running problems from the 2010 oil spill on the Kalamazoo River show the damage that can be done from a massive oil spill. Governor Rick Snyder and Enbridge recently announced an agreement for a new pipeline that would be inside a tunnel. But Haadsma says it could be several years before the tunnel is completed. During that time he says the risk would continue.

FOIA

Asked about extending the Freedom of Information Act to the governor’s office and the Legislature, Haadsma says he supports it. He says state government needs sunshine.

Campaign

The 62nd District is one that Democrats are targeting in an effort to win the majority of seats in the state House. Haadsma lost the 2016 race by just over 200 votes. But the Democrat says he doesn’t know all of the variables that brought about the 2016 election outcome. Haadsma says he senses a desire for a Democratic check at the federal and state level.

Discussion of other issues can be heard in the web version of the interview.

Auto Insurance

Haadsma says factors not related to driving should not be used to set auto insurance rates. He says the state should set a fee schedule, and the Catastrophic Claims Association should be more transparent. Haadsma says the no fault system and lifetime benefits for serious injuries in auto accidents need reform, not a complete overhaul.

Ballot Proposals

Haadsma favors all three proposals on the November ballot. He says making marijuana legal (Proposal 1) would get it off the black market, and bring in additional tax revenue. Haadsma says an independent redistricting commission (Proposal 2) would lead to more competitive districts. He also says Proposal 3 would make voting easier, rather than more complicated.

Democratic Majority?

Haadsma says a number of “pent up” public policy changes would be considered and probably passed if Democrats get majority of the state House. He says those include protection from discrimination for LGBT people, and more action on roads. But Haadsma says he can work with people on the other side of the aisle whether or not Democrats are in the majority in the state House.