Daley plans to buck Lansing partisanship
November 12, 2008LAPEER COUNTY — Newly-elected 82nd District House Representative Kevin Daley (R-Arcadia Twp.) hopes to rise above partisan politics when he takes his seat in Lansing.
Daley beat Democrat Bill Marquardt by a 3-2 margin in the Nov. 4 election. A total of 24,655 voters cast their ballots for Daley, with 18,406 going to Marquardt.
Now that the votes have been tabulated, Daley says he wants to make good on his word of reaching across the political aisle to find common ground with Democrats on issues that affect residents.
Already, though, he's finding that navigating the murky waters at the state capitol requires a steady, skillful hand at the helm. And in the short run, he doesn't know if he'll get near enough to steer.
|State Representative elect Kevin Daley and his wife, Debbie, outside of their historic Arcadia Township farm.|
Noting that Democrats picked up several more seats in last week's election, Daley remains convinced that working cooperatively is the key to moving forward.
"The problem is that partisanship is deeply ingrained in the system," says Daley. "I talk to people who've been here and they say it's just too hard to get past it."
Nevertheless, Daley thinks finding consensus may be the only way to resurrect Michigan from the ashes of an economy that self-imploded.
"I want to work with people," he says. "I plan to make contact with Democrats like John Espinosa and Terry Brown, who are our neighbors. I'd like to meet with them to see if we can find common interests and goals. "The general public doesn't care about parties," says Daley. "They're tired of the partisanship. They want to see us doing what we can to make things better."
One issue he believes members of both parties can agree on is finding a solution for the regressive Michigan Business Tax. Daley says the MBT penalizes businesses that choose to remain in the state, while forcing many others to leave.
"This is a non-partisan issue," says Daley. "I would hope that both sides at least want to get rid of the 23% surcharge. That would be a good start."
Although an effort to create a part-time legislature never found its way onto the ballot, Daley still supports cutting benefits and salaries for House members.
"There's a lot of people hurting out there," he says. "Why can't we take a pay cut?
"I talk to some who think we are underpaid," says Daley. "I'd like to sponsor a bill, but I'm being told it won't go anywhere."
Improving the state's languishing economy will be an even more daunting task, says Daley, who philosophically opposes federal bailouts.
"I've been self-employed all my life and no one is going to bail me out," Daley says. "I look at it as socialism.
"But so many people are being affected," he says. "What happens if GM (General Motors) goes bankrupt? Then it becomes a hard call. I don't know the answer."
Daley, a lifelong farmer, feels one element of the state's economy is routinely overlooked.
"Agriculture, both in Lapeer County and around the state, has always been a standby," Daley points out. "Unfortunately, it's very hard to get the people in Lansing to look at it more seriously.
"With the problems we've had related to food safety and quality, there seems to be more interest in growing and buying locally. I think that's a plus for Lapeer County and for the state."
While Daley expects to spend considerable time in Lansing, he plans to regularly commute to his home in Arcadia Township. Once his staff of two people is in place, he will hold regular office hours to meet with county residents.
"I plan to commute as much as I can," he says. "I want to be with my family and maintain contact with the local community. I'll be attending as many local governmental meetings as possible."
Daley says he will also be accessible to incoming Arcadia Township Supervisor John Howell, the office he had held for the past 13 years.
"I look forward to serving all of the people of Lapeer County," he says. "I'll be doing what I can to help turn this state around."