Don Wickstra has been a dentist for 40 years in Hamilton. At the age of 65, Wickstra says he is thinking about the next chapter of his life. After serving on a number of local boards, Wickstra thinks he can make a difference.
A longtime member of the Heath Township Planning Commission, Wickstra is running for the Republican nomination in the 26th state Senate district. It includes Allegan and Van Buren Counties and part of Kent County. It’s currently represented by Republican Tonya Schuitmaker who can’t run again due to term limits. The other Republican candidates in the district, Aric Nesbitt and Bob Genetski, are both former state Representatives. Wickstra spoke with WMUK's Gordon Evans.
Wickstra says it’s embarrassing that auto insurance hasn’t been fixed with a Republican legislature and a Republican governor. He notes that both of his opponents served six years in the state House and the problem is still there. Wickstra says the fund that pays for long-term care for people injured in auto accidents should be audited, but he’s also willing to consider allowing people to purchase coverage which is less expensive and not as comprehensive.
After auto insurance rates, Wickstra says the issue he hears about most often is roads. He says money is supposed to be coming into the system to help fix roads. Wickstra says he questions why it took so long to address the problem. He says going forward the state should be trying to ensure that preventative maintenance is done to keep roads from falling into disrepair.
Wickstra says he wants to reinforce a family structure to help kids. He also advocates local control, and says districts may be able to customize programming to address the needs of their students.
As the leader of the planning commission in Heath Township, Wickstra says he favors local control. He says local units of government can be more responsive than the state. Wickstra says there will always be disagreements, but he says local control may satisfy more of Michigan’s residents.
Asked about Republicans aligning themselves with the President, Wickstra says he doesn’t share the President’s style, but shares his views on fair trade, border security, taxes, and other issues.
Wickstra jokes that he is in fourth place among three candidates for the Republican nomination in the 26th state Senate district. But he says people like the idea of an outsider. Wickstra says he plans to act without fear of the election cycle. He says any of the three candidates will check the “Republican boxes.” Wickstra says he offers something different. Wickstra says if he hasn’t done the things that he has promised after four years he won’t run for a second term. Wickstra says he thinks auto insurance reform will pass because of public pressure. But he says if it doesn’t get done after four years, he won’t run for re-election, and “I don’t think anybody else should either.”
Discussion of other issues can be heard in the extended web version of the interview.
Wickstra says he’s not in favor of shutting down Line 5 that runs through the Straits of Mackinac. He says the state needs the energy it provides. Wickstra says it’s important for the state to provide oversight and ensure the safety of the pipeline.
Wickstra says any changes to gun laws should be based on evidence, rather than emotion. He says registering guns is reasonable, and he would favor closing any loopholes that allow guns to be purchased without registration.
The proposal to legalize recreational marijuana is the only one that’s guaranteed to on the ballot. Wickstra says he’s not in favor of legalizing pot. He says it would open up big trouble for the state. Wickstra also says he is also not in favor of the Voters Not Politicians proposal to change redistricting. He says it would not necessarily remove partisan politics from the process.