By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-12th District), 66, is up for re-election in the 12th Congressional District against Republican Jeff Jones, 59, and Working Class candidate Gary Walkowicz, 71, on Nov. 3.
The winner will serve a two-year term in a district that covers cities in both Wayne and Washtenaw counties including Dearborn, part of Dearborn Heights, Allen Park, Taylor, Wyandotte, Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.
Walkowicz is a recently retired autoworker and elected UAW leader and Jones is a financial services representative with 20 years experience and served in the ministry for 40 years.
Each were asked to respond to questions with responses limited to a 120-word count for each. All responses exceeding that limit were edited.
Question 1: List your education, experience or skills you posses that make you a qualified candidate.
Dingell: I have spent many years as an advocate on issues that matter deeply to me. Early in my career, I founded the National Women’s Health Research Center. I also chaired the Michigan Infant Mortality Task Force and served as co-chair of the Children’s Leadership Council, working to reduce infant mortality rates and improve investment in public education. I was a senior executive at General Motors for three decades, and in 2006, I was elected to the Wayne State Board of Governors. I served as chair of the Board before being elected to Congress. I have worked hard to put together coalitions, from many different perspectives, over the years to actually adopt policies that get things done from both inside and outside the government.
Jones: I went to Crestwood High School in Dearborn Heights. I attended University of Michigan and was in the Electrical Engineering Program. I also went to Hyles-Anderson College in Crown Point, Ind., and was in the Pastoral Studies Program. As a father to 11 and a grandfather to 16 and 17 coming, makes me understand the needs of family, community, and those looking for resolve. I have been helping people 24/7 in the worse of obstacles, and finding ethical resolves. I understand the needs of families in regards to their health and emergencies, and targeting of their personal and business needs.
Walkowicz: I spent 45 years at Ford, working on the assembly line and as a UAW representative. I was elected multiple times by my co-workers. I organized autoworkers to fight against speed-up and unsafe working conditions. I led fights by autoworkers against two-tier wages, against hiring workers as temporary instead of permanent, and against contract concessions.
Question 2: If (re)elected, what are three issues facing your constituents would you work to address and how?
Dingell: There are so many critical issues that must be addressed in these uncertain times. Giving American workers a level playing field so families can feel stable and secure during these increasingly uncertain economic times, which means ensuring we have access to good-paying jobs and a stable, American-based supply chain. Ensuring every American has access to quality healthcare, which means being able to see a doctor whenever they’re sick — regardless of income — and being able to afford their prescription drugs. Fighting climate change by transitioning to 100 percent clean energy and safeguarding against damages to our environment like PFAS — which I’ve passed bills to clean up. And ensuring that every student in this country has access to no-cost 2-year college.
Jones: This year’s election completely revolves around these three issues: our Constitution, our community, and our heritage. Protecting and preserving our Constitution is my foremost obligation. The First is regularly attacked and violated and ignored. The Second is a right that has been infringed upon by many. The Fourth and Fifth has been disrespected by Congress and your privacy has been sold to the lobbyist. The Eighth, Ninth and 10th completely ignored. But, it’s the blatant violation of the 14th Amendment, and the verbal expressions in public and documented about trying to get pass the due process laws that is disturbing! The obvious differences between protecting life, securing peace, and happiness is only comparative to the needs to love our neighbors as ourselves, live forgiveness, and restore ethical resolve to our communities.
Walkowicz: The working class is facing crises from COVID, from deteriorating public services and from unemployment and low wages. The government took our tax money away from public services, including public health care, and gave it to the wealthy in tax breaks and subsidies. Corporations cut jobs and wages through concessions. Working people produce all the wealth of society. We have the right to the benefits of what we produce. The money is there for a better health care system and to provide jobs and good wages for all who want to work. The working class has the power to fight for these things and to fight for a system that benefits all people, not just a wealthy few.
Question 3: Why are you seeking re(election) Why should people vote for you?
Dingell: The working men and women of this district need a seat at the table and a representative in Congress who is fighting for them, no matter which part of the district they live in. As representative of this diverse district, I’ve set myself apart by listening to everyone on any and every issue, and I’ve been working on these things since long before I was elected. I earned this seat by fighting to protect jobs, access to quality healthcare, protections for the environment, and other issues that matter to the district — the voters of the 12th give me a job interview every two years and I’m proud of the work I have to show them.
Jones: If people have a vision for tomorrow, a vision for what could be, a vision for their own families and opportunities you need to vote with that in mind. You can review the last 80 years and plan for better! We can address things like term limits, omnibus bills, appropriations of your tax dollars, and foreign trade. Let’s resolve the concerns for education; its costs, its lie about sub-prime lending, and a 7 percent inflationary cost causing it to double over the next 10 years. Let’s serve our community together and relieve the needs of our seniors, elderly, disabled, and discouraged. Let us genuinely address the addicted, the broken, and the homeless. Let’s fix what is broken and return your voice to Washington!
Walkowicz: I believe that the two major political parties both represent the corporations and the wealthy. I believe the working class needs its own political party. That’s why we organized Working Class Party four years ago and got over 50,000 petition signatures to get our party on the ballot. We have 12 candidates this year, running for U.S. Congress, the state House and state Board of Education. All of us are working people or retired workers and we speak to the problems of working people and what we can do about them.
For more information on the election or candidates go to www.lwvddh.org or www.vote411.org.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])