Voters will have three choices for the open 59th District seat Nov. 3: ballot candidates Steve Carra, R-Three Rivers, and Amy East, D-Decatur, and write-in candidate Jack Coleman of Three Rivers, who is running as an independent.
Winner of the election will succeed Aaron Miller, who is concluding his third and final two-year term as a state representative.
Carra, of Three Rivers, reiterates what he said prior to the August primary election: He is pursuing the 59th District seat to make a difference, taking a different route in life than he initially envisioned.
“I told myself in high school that whatever I did with my life, I wanted to do something to where had I not done it, nobody else would have,” Carra said. “Not knowing what that meant, but liking math and science, I went into paper engineering at Western Michigan University.”
In college, Carra tried to picture himself in 10 years as a paper engineer and “it didn’t feel right.”
“I knew I wanted to stay here at home in southwest Michigan, but felt called to do something different than paper engineering,” he said.
Carra switched his major to economics and soon found himself frustrated by corruption and cronyism in politics.
“Eventually, I discovered I had what it takes to make a difference. Representing the values of our community is a top priority of mine and I’m well prepared to carry out my life ambitions of shaking things up in Lansing and representing the people, not large donors and special interests.”
After being a research assistant at Acton Institute, a Christian-based free market think tank focused on connecting positive intentions with sound economics, Carra worked for state representative Steve Johnson, for the past three years.
“I told him my first day working for him that I felt it was my job to hold him true to his values. He has remained principled and true to his values, and I’m looking forward to serving with him.”
if elected, Carra said the top three issues he would address are “protecting unborn children from abortion, protecting the right to keep and bear arms and ensuring we have a business friendly environment.”
“I am pro-life from the moment of conception and oppose all abortion procedures, whether it’s the gruesome and barbaric dismemberment procedure or even more torturous procedures that use prostaglandin or saline,” Carra said.
Carra said he is grateful for the endorsement of the Great Lakes Gun Rights in the primary election, and has since been endorsed by the National Rifle Association for the general election.
Carra said there is a great need to respect tax dollars “by not wasting them on government-run projects in Detroit and also not giving special deals to privileged corporations that small businesses and everyone else doesn’t get.”
“Government has gotten far too big and intrusive in our lives and we need legislators who respect our freedom and will fight for the people,” he said.
Carra said he has numerous endorsements for his candidacy, including Small Business Association of Michigan, Michigan Farm Bureau, Michigan Realtors Association, former State Rep. Steve Johnson, the St. Joseph and Cass County Republican party organizations, St. Joseph Republican Party chairman Rod Chupp, Michigan Trump Republicans, Sheriff Mark Lillywhite and incoming county prosecutor David Marvin.
Carra said he appreciates those who supported his in the Republican Primary, “and I’m looking forward to uniting the community behind our values.”
Carra graduated from Western Michigan University in 2011 with degrees in economics and political science.
Amy Davidhizar East
East, the sole Democrat vying for the 59th District seat, reaffirmed her candidacy responses from the August primary race store.
East was raised on a farm outside of Constantine and graduated from Constantine High School. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and her master’s degree from Northern Illinois University, both in anthropology. East has spent most of the last 20 years as an archaeologist in professional and academic settings.
East and her husband own property outside Marcellus and their daughter attends Marcellus Community Schools.
East said in July before the primary race and repeated in October before the general election her understanding of humanity makes her the ideal candidate to be elected to the 59th District seat.
“I believe that the best and most durable decisions are those made when individuals come together for a larger cause, drawing strength from and building upon diverse experiences, earned wisdom and passion,” she said. “Our district is facing many challenges, yet none can be addressed unless we are willing to sit down and talk to each other. My campaign seeks to bridge the divide in our families and in our communities, by recognizing that — fundamentally — we all want a secure future, for ourselves and for our families.
East said one area that needs attention is the school network.
“Our modern public school system was created as a way to overcome poverty and create a more equal society,” she said. “Sadly, the defunding of our schools and devaluing of teachers and education as a profession has resulted in a system that is far from equal throughout the state. Our teachers and children are losing valuable instruction time due to the burden of excessive testing.”
As a state representative, East said, she will work toward fixing several issues, including fully funding public schools “in an equitable manner;” allowing flexibility in funding, “thereby empowering school districts to target their unique needs;” eliminating the third-grade reading law and reducing government-mandated testing; and supporting initiatives to aid in teacher recruitment and retention.
East said attention must also be given to the local communities.
“Our district is comprised of small towns surrounded by a lot of farm land,” East said. “We need both to succeed if we hope to reduce the poverty in our area and rebuild the sense of community that we long for. Too many of our downtowns are filled with empty storefronts, while Main Street and downtown development groups struggle to fill them with viable local businesses. Meanwhile, our farmers are carrying large responsibilities on their shoulders. They are working long hours, handling the fluctuations in weather and the markets, trying to coax bigger yields from the land. We need to do a better job of supporting them and our small family farms.”
East said she supports investment in small businesses, tax incentives for historic structure renovations, skilled labor programs, flexibility in best practices for farming, reward-based programs for good-steward farmers, continuation of ag-based classroom education, and school lunch programs using Michigan-grown foods.
On the environment front, she said she supports funding for conservation, as well as programs and initiatives for those whose daily lives can impact the environment.
“Our communities and infrastructure need to be able to handle and recover from potential disasters to ensure that the things we love about this district – its farms, small towns, and natural areas – will still be there for our children,” East said.
Coleman, who lost in the Republican primary race in August, filed as a write-in candidate with no party affiliation. He did not respond to two inquiries from the Sturgis Journal about his retooled candidacy as an independent candidate.