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Richer seeks election to 108th Michigan House seat

Renee Richer

ESCANABA — A Gladstone resident is running for state representative for Delta, Dickinson and Menominee counties.

Renee Richer is a Democratic candidate running to represent Michigan’s 108th State House District.

According to Richer, she could do a better job in Lansing representing the three counties because of her experiences.

“I think I would do a better job of representing this district,” she said. “My life experiences (and) my professional experiences represent the experiences of the voters in this district.”

Richer describes those experiences as being a working mom, small business owner, educator, scientist, and worker on her family’s fifth generation Michigan Centennial farm.

Richer grew up on her family’s farm in Gladstone and she attended Holy Name Catholic School and Gladstone High School.

She went on to work through graduate school, earning a doctorate in biology from Harvard University.

Today, Richer runs a bed and breakfast at an 1888 farmhouse while also continuing to work on the family farm, raise her daughter and commute to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in Marinette to teach.

“I know what it’s like to try and make a go of it in the Upper Peninsula, and it’s hard, and it is a struggle for families,” Richer said. “I am excited to go to Lansing and bring the voice of our district there and … work to improve the lives of working families in our district.”

Republican Beau LaFave currently represents the District 108. He was re-elected in 2018. His current term ends Dec. 31, 2020.

According to Richer, the most important difference between herself and LaFave is she is focused on making a difference in people’s lives.

“I’m focused on improving education in our district, I’m focused on improving the conditions for working families, and it seems as if our current representative is focused on making a lot of noise — divisive rhetoric,” Richer said.

She added another difference is her background in science.

“The second important difference is what I bring from my personal experience — my personal life experiences, as well as, my professional life experiences,” Richer said. “I think in-particular there needs to be the voice of scientists in Lansing.”

The issues Richer is focusing on in her campaign include protecting the area’s water and and the health of residents, tax fairness for families and seniors, close and affordable healthcare, education for every talent and career, and fairness and transparency in Lansing.

“Under that umbrella, there are some relatively easy fixes that we could do in regards to improving healthcare,” Richer said. “I know a young man whose father has cancer and he has to drive his father more than 100 miles every day for treatment because we don’t have access to that type of treatment here in Escanaba. And that has to do with regulations that were passed in the 1970s. I think, again, we need to bring that voice down to Lansing and say these types of regulations are really impacting our ability to access healthcare.”

Two issues that have garnered the attention of many voters within Michigan, including Delta, Dickinson and Menominee counties, includes the Enbridge Line 5 and Second Amendment sanctuary counties.

Enbridge Line 5 is a major oil pipeline in the Enbridge Lakehead System, which conveys petroleum from western Canada to eastern Canada through the Great Lakes states.

Public concerns have particularly focused on the risk of a spill under the Straits of Mackinac, and the difficulty of controlling any spill that might occur.

“I think the current set up is incredibly risky — particularly for Delta County given the amount of coastline we have,” Richer said. “So, the Line 5 tunnel would be, as proposed, the fasted way to protect our lakes from any potential spill. So my focus is on solving that problem as quickly as possible in the most effective manner.”

A Second Amendment sanctuary counties are counties that have adopted resolutions to prohibit or impede the enforcement of certain gun law measures perceived as unconstitutional.

Delta County recently became a sanctuary county.

Richer said she supports the Second Amendment, but sees sanctuary resolutions as creating a divide in a community where there isn’t a divide on guns.

“Well obviously, I support the Second Amendment,” she said.

“I come from a hunting family. I grew up hunting with my father. … The resolution, as passed, was about … bringing more divisions in a community where I don’t see there’s a division about guns.”

Each county that makes up Michigan’s 108th District faces its own unique challenges.

According to Richer, to make sure she is the best voice representing Dickinson, Menominee and Delta Counties she is going out and listening to the residents of those counties.

“What I really want to do is spend a lot of time with voters. I am already spending time with voters,” she said. “I know sometimes the districts’ interests may conflict but, again, I want to represent the voice of the majority.”

Overall, Richer said her goal is to improve the conditions of the counties so working families can succeed here.

“Our family has been here for five generations, so this is my home, this is my community, (and) this is where I hope my daughter will make her future and her life,” Richer said. “My focus is on making that possible. There are so many families that see their children go off to university or college and they just don’t have the opportunity to come back. My focus will be on … improving the district in a way that families can stay together and families can develop long term heritage in the district, like we have and like I hope we continue.”

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