Two Democrats are facing off in the primary election for a chance to unseat the 70th District state representative incumbent in the general election.
Ken Hart of Alma and James Hoisington of Stanton are vying for the Democratic win on Tuesday with the hope of besting current State Rep. Rick Outman, R-Six Lakes, in November.
The 70th District encompasses all of Montcalm County and part of Gratiot County.
Hart, 62, is a retired corrections officer who also describes himself as a successful lifetime salesman, selling “office equipment at 16 years old, insurance, real estate, cars and, of course, selling inmates to do what I would like, versus what they wanted to do,” he said.
Hart says he has “just enough intelligence to have retained enough common sense.” As a law man, the state’s prison system is one of his primary concerns.
“My district has four prisons and I am concerned about the direction the Department of Corrections is headed,” he said. “I am concerned about the safety of employees and citizens who live near those prisons.”
Another area of concern for Hart is high taxes. He promises if elected he will not vote to raise taxes, but he wants to add a tax to campaign money so that it’s taxed as a gratuity, just like the tip tax that minimum wage employees are “burdened with.” He also wants to repeal the tax on senior citizen pensions.
“I believe if elected I can sell employers to come to Michigan,” he said. “I also believe I can sell my ideas to the people in Lansing. We need to restructure the way we do business in Michigan and restructure every state agency. I also believe we can save our public school system. We, as legislators, need to start thinking outside the box and think about our future generations.”
Hoisington, 56, is a special needs bus driver for the Montcalm Area Intermediate School District. He describes himself as having a passion for serving people and he was involved with local workers as a member of a task force working to keep Electrolux from leaving Greenville. One of his goals if elected is to establish a flat tax so everyone pays the same rate.
“I see a real need for government to work for the people and not push them down,” he said. “People just can’t seem to get ahead with gas prices jumping all over the price and the cost of living steadily increasing, all the while wages stay the same.”
Hoisington has strong words for his Republican opponent, Outman.
“He has a total lack of respect for the people he serves,” Hoisington said. “One area in particular is auto insurance. He and his party keep trying to place caps on benefits for those who suffer catastrophic injuries — through no fault of their own — when in fact the voters have spoken very clearly that isn’t what they want.”
Hoisington said Outman also promised he would not raise taxes — which Hoisington said Outman did not stand behind — while also supporting tax cuts for corporations.
“He has hinted that if re-elected he will support increasing the sales tax and who knows what else he will raise?” Hoisington said. “If Mr. Outman is re-elected, he may see that as an OK from voters to go ahead and increase more taxes on the middle class, seniors and low income earners, or at least take away more services they count on to survive.”