The heated race for 70th District state representative may come down to which candidate appears to have the most integrity to voters.
Incumbent Rick Outman, R-Six Lakes, is being challenged for his position by Mike Huckleberry, D-Greenville.
The 70th District encompasses all of Montcalm County and a portion of Gratiot County, including the cities of Alma and St. Louis and the townships of Bethany, Emerson, Pine River and Seville.
Huckleberry was previously elected representative in 2008 and served until Outman ousted him from office in 2010. Both men are small business owners — Huckleberry owns Huckleberry’s Restaurant in Greenville and Outman owns Outman Excavating in Six Lakes.
Huckleberry said he has learned management skills from 20 years of being a small business owner. He is proud of his bipartisan approach to government and his effort to represent both sides of business and labor.
“I have integrity. My opponent doesn’t,” said Huckleberry comparing himself to Outman.
“I ask the voters to recognize that I am not running a smear, deceptive campaign based on distortion like the one being waged against me,” Huckleberry said. “No one has received a robo call or seen or heard an ad from me distorting my opponent either personally or his voting record. I respect the voters and our democracy too much to say or do anything to try and win an election. If a representative doesn’t have integrity before being elected, how could anyone expect they would develop integrity after the election? This lack of integrity would indicate how my opponent campaigned by promising (in 2010) not to raise taxes and breaking his promise after being elected. The question should be, what else is he willing to break his promise on?”
If elected, Huckleberry said his goals would be creating jobs, funding education and improving tax fairness.
Outman said fiscal responsibility sets him apart from his opponent. He said when he came into office, there was a $1.5 billion budget deficit and $100 billion in longterm debt.
“I applied the same basic principles to the state budget as I did to my business,” Outman said. “The state’s budget is now balanced and we have paid off $20 billion of our longterm debt. Contrast this with my opponent — he has never balanced his personal budget or the state budget. When he left office, we had a $1.5 billion budget deficit and our longterm debt had increased substantially.”
If re-elected, Outman said his goals would be creating an environment conducive to job growth, reforming the state’s regulatory environment and improving benefits for veterans, especially in the realm of educational and job opportunities.
“When our veterans return home from overseas, they should never have to worry about finding a job,” said Outman, who is himself a veteran of the U.S. Army.