By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), 43, faces Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones for the Democrat vote in the upcoming Aug. 4 primary election.
Three candidates are on the Republican side of the ballot: David Dudenhoefer, 47; Al Lemmo, 67; and Linda Sawyer. Dudenhoefer said he is on furlough from the private sector due to the pandemic, Lemmo is a retired engineer, and Sawyer is a retired nurse.
The 13th District consists of parts of Dearborn Heights, Detroit and Romulus in addition to Melvindale, Ecorse, Garden City, Highland Park, Inkster, Redford Township, River Rouge, Wayne and Westland.
All candidates were contacted and asked to answer questions about why they are interested in the seat. Each of the following questions had a 120-word limit. Answers exceeding that were edited for brevity.
Jones and Sawyer did not respond by press time.
Question 1: Why are you seeking (re)election? What do you hope to accomplish if (re)elected?
Dudenhoefer: Just as many residents in our district are unsatisfied with the current representation, I too feel that over 50 years of one political philosophy has fallen short of what residents deserve in Congress. My goal is to restore the original intent of the People’s House — to secure our God-given rights and to give people back their freedom in each vote or action I take as your next representative for all 12 communities in the 13th Congressional District.
Lemmo: Our country is clearly hurting and I will not live with myself having watched it slide toward the abyss and done nothing to prevent or reverse the slide.
Tlaib: I’m running because I cannot sit on the sidelines while the community that raised me is under assault by corporate greed, structural racism, and oppression that prevents opportunity for the most vulnerable. I chose to run for the House of Representatives because it is the People’s House. Members of Congress are meant to be the closest to the people we serve, and we are ensuring Congress looks more and more like a reflection of our residents, their ideas and ideals. We have more work to do to address structural racism, environmental injustices, and the corporate assault on working families, and I will keep fighting for the 13th District.
Question 2: What are two important issues your constituents face and what will you do to address or improve those issues if (re)elected?
Dudenhoefer: Our residents have been feeling uneasy about the overreach of government and the abuse of power — whether that overreach and abuse is in the form of lockdowns or police brutality, our residents have grown tired of lawmakers who do not respect our liberty and recognize that if not for overreaching laws, law enforcement could focus on actual crimes. I intend to be a voice in Washington to reverse unconstitutional laws and to restore lawful government through my votes. Residents work hard for their money and they are tired of seeing both their labor and savings being stolen from them through excessive money printing and taxation — I intend to be a voice to restore honest money and constitutional taxation.
Lemmo: 1) The stranglehold on the national conversation by the lunatic, lying left, mainly in the media but also in government, education and segments of the arts which heavily influence our culture, filmmaking being the prime example. They crave power and influence and will stop at nothing to attain them. Their prolonged assault on this president has been a national disgrace. 2) The feigned “secularism” of the lunatic, lying left. In reality, they are the most dangerous religious fanatics ever. Their ideology is their religion and they worship themselves, their own intellects and powers of reason, demanding the rest of us do likewise, or else. They need to be exposed as simply idolaters and I will do that.
Tlaib: Poverty and environmental racism. In my first term, I introduced the BOOST Act which would give individuals who earn less than $100,000 per year a refundable tax credit of up to $6,000 – this legislation would cut the poverty rate in the United States by 45 percent. I’ve also introduced the ABC Act which would give folks recurring payments of $2,000 per month during the COVID-19 pandemic and $1,000 monthly for one year after the pandemic is over. As vice chair of the Subcommittee on Environment in the House Oversight Committee, I’ve held corporate polluters accountable for their actions that devastate our environment and public health. I successfully passed out of the House measures to provide $1.5 billion to keep our residents’ water running during this pandemic and $22.5 billion to fully replace the lead pipes poisoning our children and families.
Question 3: What education, experience or skills do you posses that make you a qualified candidate for the position you are seeking?
Dudenhoefer: My knowledge is self-taught from 13 years of legislative activism leading Michigan Campaign for Liberty. Our mission was to train and mobilize citizens, to empower people to hold their elected officials accountable. I have helped craft and correct legislation, to point out flaws that transform a bill into something it was not intended to be. I have testified in committee and have learned the bill process. In 2013 I was elected to represent Michigan Republican delegates as the chairman of the 13th District Republican Committee.
Lemmo: Earned degrees in mechanical engineering and biology with high honors, plus extensive experience in advanced computer modeling, relevant to understanding climate change, virus propagation and other issues. In addition to technical skills, lacking in most other legislators, and essential to understand many of today’s issues, I have extensive people skills dealing with lawyers, contracting and procurement specialists, and laboratory technicians. I have negotiated contract language with inventors, entrepreneurs, academics and corporate vice presidents and have briefed at the level of Assistant Secretary of Defense. My 30 years as a civilian engineer with the U.S. Army gives me knowledge and insight into how the government works.
Tlaib: I’m a graduate of Wayne State University and the Thomas Cooley Law School. I served three full terms in in the Michigan state House of Representatives, where I was in leadership. Before being elected to Congress, I worked at the Sugar Law Center, where we fought for justice on behalf of community members and workers.
Question 4: Why should people vote for you?
Dudenhoefer: People who have grown tired of empty promises, or someone sporting some sort of “grand plan” to solve everyone’s problems should consider a vote for me. I make no wild promises of “free stuff” from the government, I offer freedom from the government with each vote I take. I will read every bill I vote on, I will not send your child into war unless it is properly declared. I suggest a mobile service center to reach people in every corner of the district. I intend to hire a staff which is comprised of people from our district instead of insiders committed to House leadership. I just want to give people their freedom back.
Lemmo: Justice, jobs, healthcare, education, the environment and all other issues are important in their own right and will receive my attention in depth. But few other candidates understand the cultural issues we face and fewer still will address them for fear of provoking the wrath of the cultural dictators. I am in this for many reasons, not least of which is to speak truth to power, including the power of the voter. I will say what I believe people need to hear, not what they want to hear. Anybody can do the latter. If you want a congressman of courage and moral integrity, I’m your man.
Tlaib: In my first term, I hit the ground running in delivering results to the residents I have the honor of serving in the United States House of Representatives. My team and I do not stop working hard for residents and we will continue to do so. Residents know I will not sell them out and I will always speak the truth. I’m accessible and I bring the residents of the 13th Congressional District into the room always, at home and in Washington, D.C. I’m not done yet and I look forward to continuing to raise the bar of what people expect from their elected representatives.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])