By ZEINAB NAJM
At the end of the Nov. 8 general election, new faces will have won seats in the 9th and 11th state House districts.
Democrat Jewell Jones and Republican Robert Pope are vying for the 11th District seat with Republican James Stephens and Democrat Sylvia Santana competing in the 9th District.
The 9th District covers part of Dearborn and also part of Detroit with the 11th District including parts of Dearborn Heights, Livonia and Westland along with all of Garden City and Inkster.
Santana is vying for the seat which is currently held by her husband. She is a small business developer officer and a previous president of the Warrendale Community Association.
Santana earned her finance degree from Eastern Michigan University and recently graduated from the Michigan Political Leadership Program at Michigan State University.
Her main goals, if elected, would be to continue working with small businesses and economic corridors within the district, protecting neighborhoods from blight or pollution and fight for the rights and dignity of seniors.
“By implementing smart, new policies that encourage new business development we will restore community pride and vitality, increase employment levels, create new tax revenues to rebuild infrastructure, and decrease crime.
The biggest issue she sees overall is the economy
“We need more good jobs and we need higher wages. I want to help create jobs, eliminate blight and revitalize our neighborhoods by paving the way for entrepreneurs to start new businesses,” Santana said. “If I am fortunate enough to be elected in November I will work hard every day to make the future brighter for everyone.”
Stephens ran unopposed on the Republican side of the ballot in the primary election. He did not respond to the questionnaire by press time.
In the 11th District race, Jones and Pope won the opportunity to run for the seat in different ways.
Jones was selected by the 13th Congressional District Democratic Party Organization to replace late state Rep. Julie Plawecki (D-Dearborn Heights) in the Michigan primary, which he won.
Plawecki’s seat opened up after she died suddenly in June from a heart attack while hiking in Oregon.
Pope beat out Dale Proesser in the primary for the Republican nod. He is retired from the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department. He did not respond to the questionnaire by press time.
Jones is a councilman in Inkster and a senior at the University of Michigan-Dearborn pursuing a degree in Political Science and Business Studies.
“I’ve always been involved in the community, at all levels, due largely to my parents, who used to drag me around everywhere they went when I was just a boy,” he said.
He named infrastructure, equal pay and redevelopment in communities as the biggest issues the district faces.
“We cannot continue to promote large-scale development and believe that some sort of trickle-down development will occur in our smaller and older neighborhoods,” Jones said. “It’ll be important to hold public hearings, and if necessary, pass laws requiring businesses to establish profit sharing programs that will allow workers to benefit from the sweat equity that the place within the company.”
Jones believes people should vote for him because he wants to improve education and the entire district.
“It appears that those making decisions in Lansing have not had an interest in developing policies that benefit families and children,” he said. “I have a genuine interest in bettering our community.”
The general election takes place Nov. 8; polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)