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Who is running in the January 30th election

By Sarah Shurge
The upcoming election will have two new polling locations. The polling locations are as follows: Precinct 1, 2, 4, and 5 will be at HYPE Athletics (635 Howe Rd). Precinct 3 and 6 will be at St. Mary Church (34530 W Michigan Ave).
Voting will be from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.
This election will be in regard to a new State Representative for District 25, due to Kevin Coleman winning a mayoral seat in Westland. The 25th District encompasses Wayne, Westland, parts of Canton, and Dearborn Heights.
Each candidate was asked for biographical information, experience, and to explain why they’re running for office. Here are their answers:

Peter Herzberg

Peter Herzberg: “I have spent more than 8 years on the Westland City Council serving the residents with pride. It has been my utmost honor to use my education and life experience to help better my hometown. I have learned that doing this work is incredibly fulfilling as I want to advocate for issues that are not only important to me, but to residents as a whole. This includes our seniors, our state’s education system, our environment, and much more. I believe that I have the experience to represent the 25th District well and I am hopeful that the residents here will see what I bring to the table and elect me to serve them in Lansing. We need a representative in Lansing who will bring back a fair share of funding to our district and work on the issues that matter most.”

Melandie Hines

Melandie Hines: “Nine years serving on the Wayne Westland Board of Education, serving on the Policy and Strategic Planning Committee, Michigan Association of School Board Master Board Member, Wayne County Women’s Commission serving on the Skill Trades Workforce Development Committee, Education Committee, Housing Committee, and Events Committee, Executive Board of the 12th Congressional District, Mentor for Cupcake Princess, Mentor Champions of Wayne, Alpha Sigma Alpha Sorority, Member of New Hope Baptist Church in Wayne, Westland Chamber of Commerce, Inkster Chamber of Commerce, Former Inkster Auxiliary Police Officer. Secured a $24.5 million bond for the Westwood Community School District benefiting Dearborn Heights and Inkster in the 2023 Election. Led a successful $158 million bond campaign in six communities in Wayne, Westland, Dearborn Heights, Canton, Inkster, and Romulus in 2018. Twenty years’ experience in financial services combined with banking and insurance. Background in Economic Development and Business Development.”

Josh Powell

Josh Powell: “My name is Josh Powell and I have been a resident of the area for ten years. I own a home in Westland and my son just graduated from John Glenn last year and he is currently attending WCC. I consider this my home and I am heavily invested in Michigan, but I am deeply concerned about the direction the state is headed under its current regime and what that means for my family’s future here. I am a veteran of the Army where I was an MP, have degrees in IT and criminal justice and currently work in IT for an auto supplier in the Detroit area. My platform can be summed up in six simple words. Less Government; Less Regulation; Lower Taxes.
Under the state’s current leadership our constitutional rights are being eroded daily. When the previous legislature assumed power in Lansing, it became open season on our freedoms and liberties in the name of special interest groups and the rights of the cities, townships and citizens were put on the back burner in favor of whichever groups could raise the most donations for those in power. The priorities of those in power now do not seem to align with the values and priorities of the common person anymore. For example, we are paying rent for thousands of illegal aliens waiting on a court date for deportation while we know of at least 2500 veterans who are homeless – who is that representing?”

Shannon Rochon

Shannon Rochon: “I am running to represent the 25th District in Lansing because I believe that my experience in leadership roles for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, over 20 years of community organizing, and as the Michigan League of Conservation Voters partnership director have given me a deep understanding of the needs in vulnerable communities. My goal is to create a more equitable and inclusive environment in the 25th District, where every resident has equal access to opportunities and resources. I will work tirelessly to address systemic inequalities, advocate for affordable housing, promote economic development, and fight for social justice. Together, we can build a stronger and more united community.”

Andrea Rutkowski

Andrea Rutkowski: “I am the wife of a professional firefighter and the mother of a public school student, and I am completing my Masters in Education. As a family we are continuing the legacy of being Union members, and my family has experienced the effects of Emergency Management when the city my husband works for went into receivership. I want to fight for families like mine that work hard and want to have the best opportunities for their children, and their parents. I want Michiganders to thrive, not just survive.
I have served as Westland City Council President Pro Tempore, where I have prioritized public safety, infrastructure, and small business growth. As president of the local school district’s PTA and a former small business owner, I understand the challenges that working families and communities face.
There has been a lot of recent progress in Michigan and I want to make sure that continues in this new year. District 25 deserves to be represented by someone ready to head to Lansing prepared to fight to have this area’s voices heard. I’m ready to work tirelessly for the residents of Westland, Wayne, Dearborn Heights and Canton Township to build on the accomplishments of 2023.”

Layla Taha

Layla Taha: “I was raised by a single mother in the city of Wayne and have lived most of my life in Wayne and Westland. I am a graduate of the University of Michigan, where I studied global health. I also earned my Master of Public Health (MPH) with a Certificate in Health Policy from Columbia University. I’ve spent nearly a decade as a public health advocate and community organizer, and I am invested in fighting for a more just and equitable world for all of us. My passion for people and commitment to public health started at home many years ago, where I witnessed an environmentally hazardous explosion and many attempts to dump toxic waste in our community. My hometown of Wayne serves as a prime example of environmental injustice, and it is no surprise to me that we rank in the highest percentiles for asthma, heart disease, and low life expectancy across the state of Michigan. This community has shaped me into someone who has great pride in being part of the working class and who cares deeply about the health and well-being of my neighbors. I know the challenges my working class neighbors are facing, and I know it shouldn’t be this hard. We need a representative in Lansing who will fight for livable wages, clean air and water, quality healthcare, and affordable housing. Someone who will fight for human dignity for all of us. That’s why I’m running.”

What are your top
three legislative priorities
for the term?

Peter Herzberg: “It goes without saying that there are many things I want to work on as State Representative. However, I want to focus in on senior services, environmental issues, and keeping Michigan an affordable place to live.
A few ways I would work towards my goals would be advocating for senior service transportation at every level of government, as that is crucial for those who cannot drive themselves. Minimum staffing levels need to be implemented to ensure a higher quality of care at our local nursing home facilities.
Michigan is home to the largest bodies of freshwater in the world. We need to work to protect these for future generations to come. I am positive that my future colleagues in Lansing feel the same and I would be honored to collaborate closely with them.
I have lived in Michigan my entire life and have started a family here in Westland. I am proud to call this state my home. I want others to feel the same way towards Michigan as I do. This means affordability and economic development. This comes to fruition with creating good paying jobs and ensuring housing is affordable. This would not only be for people looking to move here, but also for those who already have their roots planted here.”

Melandie Hines: “My top three legislative priorities are helping with affordable housing. With the rising cost of inflation, it is impossible for everyday working families to be able to live comfortably without the fear of being able to afford their home, pay bills and buy groceries. My second priority is increasing jobs in skill trades and workforce development. I have developed amazing relationships with the labor unions and professional skill trades organizations. I created a job fair in the city of Inkster with over 40 skill trade participants. There is a shortage of workers in the skill trades industry and I sit on the Wayne County Women’s Commission on the Skill Trades Workforce Development Committee, Education Committee, Housing Committee, and Events Committee. Training and development is vital in increasing wages, helping to increase home ownership and stabilization in neighborhoods. My third priority is growth and economic development. I have a Redevelopment Ready Certification through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Certification in Grant Writing. I worked as a business banker and helped lots of business owners start new business and grow their brands. Economic development is vital to increasing revenues to the local municipalities and stabilization and growth to the communities in Wayne, Westland, Canton, Dearborn Heights.”

Josh Powell: “1. Less Government: The state government should only get involved where the local government falls short. All governments should be as local as possible, so I will vote to keep the state out of local issues and to return local control to cities and local school boards and reduce the size and scope of the ballooning state government and budget.
2. Less Regulation: No one should ever be able to take away your 2nd amendment rights without being convicted or even charged with a crime. You shouldn’t need to renew your license plate every year or your license every 2 years. Car dealerships should be allowed to be open on Sunday if they choose to be. Over-regulation is another major reason our state is shrinking and considered unattractive for businesses looking to build or expand. I would find ways to reduce or eliminate many regulations that are arbitrary and unnecessary.
3. Lower Taxes: Michigan residents have some of the highest total tax burdens of any state and those in Lansing are so out of touch currently that they just went to court to raise your income tax during a recession. This is not only bad for your budget, but it is driving people to leave our state in record numbers. I would propose instituting a phased reduction in the state income tax until it is gone, and let Michigan grow and prosper like every other state with no state income tax. Without drastic action Michigan is on track to lose another two house seats by the 2030 census.”

Shannon Rochon: “I want our community to S.E.E. (Seniors, Education, the Environment) what my legislative priorities revolve around. I am dedicated to serving our community and ensuring that our seniors have access to the resources and support they need for a high quality of life. I will work to implement policies that improve healthcare affordability, expand access to social services, and protect seniors from financial exploitation. Additionally, I am committed to investing in education by providing resources and support for teachers, improving school infrastructure, and promoting innovative teaching methods. Finally, I will prioritize protecting and preserving our natural resources, addressing climate change, and promoting sustainable practices for a healthier and greener future. Together, we can create positive change and build a better community for all.”

Andrea Rutkowski: “My top three legislative priorities are improving and protecting access to affordable healthcare and healthcare rights, addressing the cost-of-living crisis, and ensuring our children have a top-rate education. Affordable healthcare is a cornerstone of a thriving society, and I am committed to implementing policies that make quality care accessible to all, irrespective of their financial means. Additionally, I recognize the urgency of addressing the cost-of-living crisis, advocating for measures that alleviate economic burdens on families and foster financial stability in our community. If we want families to thrive and raise their children in District 25 and Michigan, we need to make sure they have access to affordable housing.
I spend my days in the classroom dedicated to the mind of tomorrow. It is critical that we secure a top-rate education for our children. This involves advocating for increased funding for schools, addressing educational disparities, and supporting initiatives that empower educators. A robust education system is not just an investment in our children’s future; it is a foundation for the prosperity of our entire community. Through these legislative priorities, I aim to create a community that is supported, economically resilient, and provides educational opportunities for all our children.”

Layla Taha: “1. Pass polluter pay laws that will make corporate polluters clean up their messes. We all have a right to breathe clean air and drink clean water. Yet corporate polluters in HD25 have been releasing toxic chemicals into the environment for decades without any accountability. My hometown of Wayne serves as a prime example of environmental injustice, as we rank in the highest percentiles for asthma, heart disease, and low life expectancy across the state of Michigan. We cannot continue down a path where corporate polluters go unchecked while public health deteriorates and taxpayers are forced to foot the bill for cleanup efforts.
2. Hold DTE accountable for leaving us in the dark while increasing our electric bills. Southeast Michigan residents are paying some of the highest electric bills in the nation while suffering some of the worst service, as DTE has continued to defer maintenance on our power grid while increasing their rates. I will work to pass legislation that forces DTE to monetarily compensate residents for all food and wages lost during power outages, as well as pay residents an hourly rate for each hour the power is out.
3. Fight for working families to pass legislation that guarantees paid time off, increases wages, and expands bargaining power. Working people in Michigan shouldn’t have to work multiple jobs or more than 40 hours per week to make ends meet. I will work to pass a $15 minimum wage with increases pegged to inflation, guaranteed paid medical and sick leave, guaranteed paid vacation time for all full-time employees, and expanded child tax credits.”

Lansing, Michigan, USA – January 20, 2018: Interior of the House of Representatives in state capitol building in Lansing, Michigan.

What kind of support/
impact will you have in Lansing to support our district?

Peter Herzberg: “Over the years I have been lucky to watch now Mayor Kevin Coleman serve in this district for three terms. Not only have I learned from the work he has done, but I have also had the honor to be his mentee first hand. He has endorsed me for this position and I am confident that he will be with me every step of the way during the campaign and during my tenure as State Representative.
After more than eight years on Westland City Council I have established relationships with several local leaders and will work closely with them to ensure each part of the district is well taken care of. I have made connections throughout the city and beyond that I plan to utilize as State Representative. Our district needs a representative in Lansing who has the ability to negotiate for a fair share of funding and making sure our district does not get left behind.”

Melandie Hines: “I am currently elected in the City of Wayne, Westland, Canton, and Dearborn Heights by serving on the Wayne Westland Board of Education. I’m honored to serve on the Executive Board of the 12 th Congressional District and we have monthly meetings to go over the concerns of members in the community. I currently have very good relationships with the Mayors and Supervisors of the four communities in the district, Westland, Wayne, Canton, and Dearborn Heights. Sitting on the Skill Trade Workforce Development Committee, Housing Committee, Education Committee, and Events Committee with the Wayne County Women’s Commission helps me to get additional resources to members in our community.
In closing I have been doing the work for over 20 years in the community. I love the community that I serve and I am not afraid to stand up for injustice. I recently stood up against my own school district because I did not like the way that the staff and students were being treated by certain board members and the administration. Working together with the teacher’s union we were able to stop the district from privatizing transportation and temporarily able to rescind the layoffs in which a majority of the families live in the district would have been devastating to the City of Wayne, Westland, Canton and Dearborn Heights and forced the administration to come up with another solution. My campaign slogan is, “Don’t talk about it, be about it”. People want positions for the title and prestige but you have to do the work.”

Josh Powell: “In short, I can stop the craziness. Currently legislation is being pushed through Lansing with no discussion or debate and absolutely no transparency. If elected, I would tie the state legislature 55/55 and bring back balance! I could make sure that important issues are not put through without debate or discussion and especially push for full transparency. I would commit to supporting bi-partisan legislation banning Michigan elected officials from signing or enforcing NDA’s when representing their constituents. There is absolutely nothing that should be hidden from taxpayers when it’s their money being spent and their behalf we are supposed to be working for.
I would also pledge to support the bi-partisan effort to fix the FOIA laws in Michigan so that everyone is accountable to the public and information can be easily and readily provided to any citizen that requests it. Currently Michigan ranks as one of the least transparent states in the United States and the governor’s office is the only one in the country not subject to FOIA requests. There is already bi-partisan legislation proposed to fix this issue, and I pledge right now that I will sign on to support it.”

Shannon Rochon: “As a representative for the 25th District, I would be dedicated to ensuring that our community receives its fair share of state funding to support our local needs. To achieve this, I would actively engage with state lawmakers and policymakers to advocate for our district’s priorities. I would gather comprehensive data and evidence that highlight the specific challenges and opportunities unique to our district, presenting a compelling case for increased funding. Additionally, I would foster strong relationships with other representatives and build coalitions to amplify our voices and increase our influence in the decision-making process. By being a persistent and effective advocate, I would work tirelessly to secure the resources necessary to address our community’s needs and promote its well-being.”

Andrea Rutkowski: “In Lansing, I am committed to being a steadfast advocate for our district, focusing on impactful initiatives that help working families that make up this district. This special election is about making sure that the members of district 25 have representation in Michigan. I’m ready to go to Lansing and be a voice for Wayne, Westland, Canton and Dearborn Heights. To support this district I am looking forward to collaboratively working with colleagues and building relationships with legislators to get things done.
I will advocate for targeted investments in local businesses, infrastructure, and job creation. By fostering a business-friendly environment, we can attract opportunities that contribute to the growth and stability of our district.
Education is fundamental to our kids’ future, and I will champion policies that enhance our schools. This involves securing additional funding for resources, addressing infrastructure needs, and advocating for equitable educational opportunities.
Addressing disparities and safeguarding the well-being of our community is critical. I will push for legislation that improves access to affordable healthcare services. My goal is to bring about positive, meaningful change that enhances the overall well-being and prosperity across Wayne, Westland, Canton and Dearborn Heights.”

Layla Taha: “As I’ve been knocking doors in every city of our district, I’ve heard from residents that they’re concerned about the affordability of their healthcare, the safety of the water coming from their tap, the reliability of their electricity, the protection of their reproductive freedoms, and their ability to afford the rising costs of rent, utilities, and groceries. If elected, I will work to lower costs for working families in Michigan and fight to protect public health. This means standing up to insurance and drug companies to lower the costs of our healthcare and prescriptions, all while working to establish a universal healthcare system in Michigan. This also means ending tax subsidies for big corporations and instead increasing local funding to improve services for residents and repair our crumbling infrastructure that threatens the health of our communities. I will fight for any additional funding necessary to ensure the timely replacement of Wayne’s lead-contaminated water lines and hold corporate polluters accountable for cleaning up their messes because we all have the right to clean air and water. I look forward to working with my Democratic colleagues and Governor Whitmer to pass progressive legislation that will benefit the residents of Canton, Dearborn Heights, Wayne, and Westland.”
Any qualified elector of the city of Wayne who is not already registered, may register to vote at the office of the Wayne City Clerk, the office of the Wayne County Clerk, a Secretary of State branch office, or other designated state agency.
The last day to register in any manner other than in person with the local clerk is: Monday, January 15th.
“Please exercise your right to vote,” said Tina Parnell, Wayne City Clerk. “Call the clerk’s office if you have any questions.”
The Presidential Primary will be February 27th, the Special General Election will be April 16th, the Primary Election is August 6th, and the General Election is November 5th.
Parnell is seeking individuals interested in working as election officials on Election Day, January 30th and future elections in 2024. You can assist your community and earn extra money as well.
If you’re interested, visit Parnell’s office at City Hall to fill out an application. City Hall is located at 3355 S. Wayne Rd. Questions may be directed to Parnell via email at tparnell@cityofwayne.com or call City Hall at (734)722-2204.
Persons with special needs as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act should contact the Clerk’s Office.
Be sure to make it out to the polls!


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