By SUE SUCHYTA
Voters will decide May 3 who will fill Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud’s vacant 15th District State House seat through the end of 2022 – Democrat Jeffrey Pepper or Republican Ginger Shearer.
Pepper said he will not run for another term, while Shearer plans to run in the August primary and, if eligible, in November, for a full-term House seat in the reconfigured district.
Below are both candidates’ responses to questions.
Why are you running for the partial term for 15th District State Representative?
Pepper: There was a vacancy in the state House and Dearborn’s voice was silenced. The duties of a state representative reflect what I have done for 45 years: Represent people and serve them. I deal with laws the legislature has written and I am no stranger to the too many of them that they have. I advocate as a matter of daily practice. I am experienced in reaching across the aisle to resolve differences. I bring a skill set and lifelong experience as a son of Dearborn that matches perfectly with what our state representative is called to do. I know how to get things done. This is not a promise. It is a fact. It is what I do every single day. My life has prepared me for this moment, to represent a town which has been home to five generations of my family, which has given me much and to which much is owed. I am fired up and ready to go.
Shearer: I love our city and this is my home. I am passionate about making a change in our community. I am a candidate because we have been left without representation for more than six months, and have lost time and money as a result. I have no tolerance for government incompetence, no patience for injustice and no sympathy for leaders who have failed their citizens of Dearborn. I will put our citizens first by fighting for the what matters most to our voters of Dearborn. I am committed to our city and am running in the special election as well as the August primary and November general elections for State House representative.
Tell us about yourself, and why people should vote for you.
Pepper: Why would they not? I am the genuine deal. I’ve introduced myself to this community since I was appointed to serve on the Mayor’s Committee to Combat Drug Abuse when I was 16 years old, and at every Rotary, Knights of Columbus, City Beautiful Commission, City Civil Service Commission, Police and Fire Pension Board, Dearborn Bar Association, Community Crisis Center, Dearborn Arc, Parent Teacher Organizations and Democratic Club meetings ever since, not to mention soccer games, high school football games and theater productions.
I am not a stranger here. And, while I run as a Democrat, because I am one, I’ve learned to listen and learn from all points of view. That’s how things get done. There’s a lot to get done and a short time to do it.
Shearer: I am a hardworking single parent who is dedicated to my family and this community. My plan begins with safety at home, which means safe neighborhoods and schools, reducing crime throughout Dearborn and protecting our police and first responders. There can never be prosperity without law and order. The recent attacks on our police and first responders threaten our very way of life. I am asking for your vote on Tuesday, May 3 because I am dedicated and qualified.
What is the top issue facing the district that you hope to address, why is it your top issue and how will you go about addressing it?
Pepper: I hope to effectuate a change in formula for road improvement. A two-lane road up north gets the same per-mile funding as a six-lane road in southeast Michigan. This needs to change. I hope to secure additional state funding through supplemental appropriations for our roads and schools.
Shearer: Our top issue is that being unrepresented for six months has caused a major setback in the funding our city receives from Lansing. My mission is to go to work for the citizens of Dearborn. I will help to secure dollars from Lansing to ensure Dearborn gets its share of Michigan’s billions of dollars in surplus funding. I will ensure these dollars go directly back into our community, and I will fight to lower property taxes, increase resources for Dearborn schools, and increase funding for the police and fire departments and for veterans and seniors.
What are your other top priorities for the district, why are they important to you and what do you hope to accomplish?
Pepper: Of urgent need is reestablishing constituent service for the people of Dearborn, and it is additionally urgent that we have a strong voice in opposition to any of the majority’s efforts to erode our democratic election principles and to address any other skullduggery that can occur in a lame duck session.
Shearer: I will work to deliver dollars from Lansing directly back into our community. This includes rebuilding our failing infrastructure by rebuilding the roads, highways, bridges and railways of tomorrow. This will help create more jobs in our district. I will secure funding for our city’s aging sewer system. Increasing the capacity of the sewer system to prevent flooding in our neighborhoods must be immediately addressed at the state and local levels. I will also work to rescue kids from failing schools by helping their parents send them to schools of their choice.
What are your closing remarks?
Pepper: Get out and vote on May 3. This is the last stand for the unadulterated 15th District that we know. Make the next eight months count. We need a powerful voice for this proud city. I am that voice, and we are that city.
Shearer: My mission is to go to work for the citizens of Dearborn. It is time to make government work for the people. So, to every parent who dreams for their child and every child who dreams for their future, I will make this promise to you: I will fight for you. God bless the voters of Dearborn, and God Bless the United States of America. Thank you to all of my supporters and the citizens of Dearborn. Please vote on Tuesday, May 3 for Ginger L. Shearer as your State Representative for Dearborn’s 15th District.