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Barr says she understands District 1’s needs

Callie Barr

ESCANABA — Callie Barr, a former lawyer and teacher, now a congressional candidate for the United States House Of Representatives was in Escanaba this week as she looks to represent Michigan’s 1st Congressional District. Should Barr be elected, she would make history as the first woman to represent District 1.

Barr said she is running because someone needs to show up for the district. She explained that the community is full of brilliant and hardworking people that need to have their voice heard.

“We need a representative who can be a conduit to bring their ideas to Washington D.C. and to do that, we need someone who’s more interested and being here for the people here than in playing these extreme party politics,” Barr said.

She believed that her role in office is to be that conduit that brings good ideas from the district to D.C. She said that is currently not the case and the district suffered because of it.

“Right now we’re losing a hospital in Ontonagon, a post office is threatened in Iron Mountain (and) we just lost 200 jobs because DPI closed in Alpena. That only happens when you don’t have a congressperson looking out for your congressional district,” she said.

Barr said that there are solutions out there, they just need to be utilized.

“There’s infrastructure money out there. There’s things that we should be bringing into our district for our people here and it’s your job as a congressperson to be doing those things and to be being a voice for your particular district and we are a unique district and so we should have a voice for us,” Barr said.

Barr shared that her perspective is different than other candidates, saying she is the only one born and raised in the district.

“We’re (Barr and her husband) deeply rooted in this place and I understand in a very real way that you put your community above your party and we’re missing some of that right now,” Barr said.

She expanded saying that the people should have a government that represents them.

“To me, the very basic foundation of our democracy is that we have a trust in each other, that we can have a government that represents us,” Barr said.

“The minute you start calling into question our elections (or) saying we live in a banana republic because we don’t trust a 12 jury system, that’s very dangerous.”

Barr said voters should vote for her because she will work tirelessly for them.

“I understand because I’m from here and for here. I know what it feels like to feel like you’re screaming in the wind.”

She explained that she personally understands the barriers every day people face, saying she knows what it’s like to feel not vital enough.

“I know what it’s like to be too poor to be important,” Barr said.

“p4″>”I know what that’s like, even running in this race I have felt the very real barriers to even being able to run for a federal office because it’s not designed for normal-ish people to run. And I say I’m normal-ish, right? I won’t claim completely normal, but it’s very true. This is a system set up for the wealthy and  we need a government that represents (the) people who work for a living (and)people who have fought for our country. I say we’re the class that built this country, we’re the ones who fight its wars and it needs to work for us.”

Barr is a fifth generation Michigander who was born and raised in the district, specifically Cheboygan.

“I’m the only candidate born and raised here and that makes a huge difference,” Barr said.

She said unlike other candidates, the policies she helps to establish will directly impact her and her family.

“The policies that we enact, I’m actually going to have to live with them.

I’m gonna have to live with those results and they’re going to impact me and my kids,” Barr said.

Barr said that the government is actively trying to take away rights rather than expand them, referencing abortion.

“Jack Bergman co-sponsored legislation that (has) zero exceptions for abortion, I mean not even to save a woman’s life. That’s terrifying, It’s way too far,” Barr said.

She spoke about her daughters and their futures, saying legislation like that is horrific.

“When I look at my daughter, I can’t imagine the government mandating that she die if she had a complicated pregnancy to me. That’s horrific and it’s just way too far,” she said.

She talked about issues district one voters are facing, saying that they are really hurting the working and middle class.

“It’s housing, it’s childcare, it’s the cost of groceries (and) mental health care,” Barr said.

“Right now (we) have people who are taking private trips to outer space while we have families that are struggling to put food on the table.”

She also discussed her passion for veterans as her husband, Matt, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps after 9/11. Matt served two tours in Iraq, sustaining combat injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD as well as a traumatic brain injury. Barr became Matt’s caretaker and during the process she began to get frustrated with the lack of support for active military members and veterans. This prompted her to advocate for military families through the Blue Star Families and the Rosalynn Carter institute for Caregivers.

She said that she’s met with veterans who were completely unaware of the benefits that they are entitled to.

“I think education and outreach to folks — to come in and to be able to get the benefits that they have earned and understanding that they earned those. This is not an entitlement program for them, this is something they have earned,” Barr said.

Barr highlighted the Escanaba Vet Center which services the entire U.P., as a great example of taking care of veterans and looking out for one another.

“I was there not too long ago. It is excellent. It is a great example of veterans having each other’s back,” Barr said.

Michigan’s 1st Congressional District is seen as a red area, with Republican Congressman and Incumbent Jack Bergman holding the seat since 2016. The last time a Democrat held the seat was in 2008, when it was held by Bart Stupack who had held the seat since 1992. Stupack endorsed Barr for the 2024 election.

“I know that Callie has what it takes to win in 2024, and now, more than ever, we need leaders who are willing to put our people above partisanship,” Stupack said in his endorsement.

She said she believes she can be the one to flip the district, despite rumors that it can’t be done.

“I think a common misconception is because we haven’t had a Democratic representative here since Bart Stupack that we can’t win this seat. We can, we can,” she said.

Barr encourages those in the community to “keep the faith” even when life seems tumultuous.

“It feels dark and it feels scary sometimes when we look at the news and I just want to encourage people to know that there are so many of us that are proud to be American. American democracy has never been about perfectionism, but it has always been about progress and progress isn’t always a straight line. Keep the faith,” Barr said.

Before Barr can face off with Bergman, she must win the primary election against fellow Democrat Bob Lorinser on Aug. 6.

To learn more about Barr and her campaign, visit callieforcongress.com.

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