Two candidates for 70th District State House representative are known for pointing out the differences in their respective political platforms.
But Mike Huckleberry, D-Greenville, and State Rep. Rick Outman, R-Six Lakes, have something in common — both are local business owners and both have had financial difficulties.
Outman, who owns Outman Excavating in Six Lakes, has owed and paid off a state tax lien, a federal tax lien and a company lien from 2008 to 2010 (see info box at end of story).
Huckleberry, who owns Huckleberry’s Restaurant in Greenville, currently owes $78,483.07 in state tax liens, federal tax liens and unemployment tax liens dating back to 2009 (see info box at end of story).
Outman, who was elected state representative in November 2010, and the Republican party have widely publicized Huckleberry’s financial record as part of Outman’s campaign to be re-elected. Huckleberry, who was previously state representative, thinks Outman is being hypocritical.
“My wife Linda and I regret very much opening the Northside Market (in Greenville) a few months before Electrolux moved to Mexico,” Huckleberry said. “It caused us severe financial difficulties. We are continuing to stay open, we are continuing to pay our taxes. Other local businesses such as Jorgensen’s, Hansen’s and Ponderosa didn’t close because they’re all bad business people. So many of us business people are in trouble.
“It’s just wrong,” he said. “To act like I’m somehow not worthy … I’m not pleased with what happened, but I’m not running from my problems either. Hit me on the issues.
Outman said he was not in office when he owed taxes, unlike Huckleberry.
“The difference is, I rolled up my sleeves, I didn’t run around playing politics,” Outman said. “For me it was a one-time issue that I corrected. For Mike, it’s a chronic pattern. Mike will always be in this situation because that’s how Mike lives his life. A lot of this occurred while he was in office. This is a function of his life. This is not something that is out of character.”
Like Huckleberry, Outman blamed his own financial struggles in 2008, 2009 and 2010 on the state’s poor economy.
“When the economy tanked for Michigan, it tanked for Outman Excavating,” he said. “Local companies defaulted on what they owed me. We became disciples of (financial adviser) Dave Ramsey and we lived like paupers for two years. We threw all the money we could back into the business. We got rid of a lot of the frivolities and the necessities. We came out on the other side and we came out stronger. I’m a little bit more careful now. It changed the way we did business. We are more financially stable now than we’ve ever been due to this change.”
Huckleberry and Outman will participate in a candidate forum, along with other candidates, from 6 to 9 p.m. tonight at the Stanley & Blanche Ash Technology Learning Center (formerly M-TEC) in Greenville. A meet and greet will take place at 5:30 p.m. prior to the forum.
Candidates’ tax troubles
A look at what Mike Huckleberry and Rick Outman have owed, or currently owe, in state and federal taxes:
Mike Huckleberry & Son Ray Enterprises Inc.
(Huckleberry’s Restaurant in Greenville)
• June 2008: Chase Bank sued Mike Huckleberry in 8th Judicial Circuit Court for $29,818.51 (settled in April 2011)
• February 2009: state tax lien of $4,738.32 (still open)
• March 2010: unemployment tax lien of $3,249.55 (still open)
• March 2010: unemployment tax lien of $2,726.65 (still open)
• March 2010: unemployment tax lien of $4,058.64 (paid in April 2011)
• May 2011: state tax lien of $19,884.51 (paid in April 2012)
• June 2011: unemployment tax lien of $3,301.90 (still open)
• August 2011: unemployment tax lien of $3,202.60 (still open)
• August 2011: unemployment tax lien of $9,952.65 (still open)
• October 2011: state tax lien of $9,602.66 (still open)
• January 2012: unemployment tax lien of $3,740.61 (still open)
• March 2012: unemployment tax lien of $8,269.90 (still open)
• July 2012: state tax lien of $19,884.51 (still open)
• October 2012: federal tax lien of $9,814.35 (still open)
Rick Outman & Outman Excavating
• January 2008: state tax lien of $2,492.09 (paid in April 2008)
• December 2008: L&D Carey & Sons Trucking lien for $5,873.75 (paid in December 2008)
• August 2009: federal tax lien of $16,225.22 (paid in August 2010)
Source: Montcalm County Register of Deeds Office