By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — The next 5th District state senator will be a new face to politics as Democrat Betty Jean Alexander and Republican DeShawn Wilkins face off on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Both candidates are vying for a four-year term in the
district that serves Dearborn Heights, Detroit, Garden City, Inkster and
Alexander is a clerical specialist and DeShawn works in property and casualty insurance sales and is senior pastor of Immanuel Outreach Cathedral.
Each candidate was asked three questions with a 100-word limit for each answer.
Question 1: What skills, strengths, education or experience do you possess that make you a qualified candidate for the position you are running for?
Alexander: As a single mother balancing a budget with minimum resources I bring real life experiences and expertise to the position. Further, as a Wayne County civil servant employee in the records division, I see first-hand the impact of government on its citizens. I am committed to making a better life for all citizens of District 5 from our youngest residents (babies) to our oldest citizens (our seniors).
Wilkins: I am licensed in property and casualty insurance and currently work in the insurance field. I have over 16 years experience of being a senior pastor and working in the community. I also have almost 30 years of management experience. I previously owned and operated a small business for over 20 years. In 2017 I was the former vice chair and then chairperson of the citizens advisory committee of the Regional Transit Authority. I have also served as a member and chairperson of several other committees and boards.
Question 2: What will be your priorities if you are elected?
Alexander: 1. Fully fund public education according to the adequacy study. More money is needed for our public schools. We need more teachers and smaller class sizes. 2. Auto insurance reform — Our insurance rates need to be lower, and should be based on each individual’s driving record. It should not be based on your ZIP code, your credit score, or your gender. Remove all redlining. 3. Water — Everyone has the right to clean, safe, and affordable water. No one should have their water turned off. The cost at which the Nestle Corporation is allowed to extract water from our state is so low that it means that same water could be made affordable for all our citizens. Water is a human right.
Wilkins: To reform our highest in the nation auto insurance, repeal the pension tax, improve services for our veterans, promote skilled trades, improve education for our children, lower the recidivism rate, and fix our roads and bridges.
Question 3: Why should people vote for you?
Alexander: I think people should vote for me because I am a concerned citizen with an opportunity to offer
a different perspective and insight into the Lansing legislature. I am the average everyday working person who struggles every day to make ends meet, and having that life experience will make me an asset. I will keep the district informed of what is happening in Lansing.
Wilkins: The people should vote for me because for over a year now I have be
en working hard to meet people all across this diverse district. Working to earn their support by listening to their concerns and sharing my ideas. I wasn’t recruited to run for this office, to the contrary, I wanted to run for state Senate to serve the citizens of this district from day one. As a political outsider, I have earned the support of Independents, Republicans, and Democrats alike because they know that I’m ready to serve the people, not special interests and political big-shots.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)