Suzanne Shumway of Petoskey is a Democratic candidate for 107th District State Representative and will face Jim Martin of Sault Ste. Marie in the Tuesday, August 7, Primary election. The winner will face Republican incumbent Frank Foster of Pellston in November.
Mrs. Shumway is a professor of English and Communications at North Central Michigan College in Petoskey. She and her husband, Michael, have been married 32 years and have three grown children.
“I would like to work more toward collaboration and compromise than the competition and divisiveness that we’ve seen recently” in the Michigan legislature, she said.
There are three major issues Mrs. Shumway considers fundamental to the district right now. They are education, the economy and environment, and veterans affairs.
Aside from addressing those issues, one collateral benefit to being elected would be the opportunity to build a sense of community throughout the entire district, she said.
“We live in the best part of Michigan; I’m convinced of that,” she said. “We are separated geographically, but share many of the same values … and can learn from one another.”
Things are hard right now, she said, and “we can face them better as a community than as isolated towns.”
As a community college professor for the last 12 years, she says she has been able to learn about the issues that are most important to everyday people.
“Over the years, I’ve seen a good cross section of people in the district,” she said. “They are people who work hard to get ahead.”
Her students often work one or two jobs, go to school, and take care of their families.
“These people are working hard and don’t have the time or opportunity to articulate their voices to those representing them,” Mrs. Shumway said.
She believes it is her role to step out of the classroom and advocate for them.
“I’m deeply troubled by the curtailment of democratic values in the legislature,” she added. The emergency financial manager law and use of the immediate-effect provision are two recent changes in the state legislature she sees as unacceptable. The immediate-effect provision allows laws to take effect right away if supported by legislative roll call vote, rather than waiting 90 days after the end of the legislative session, which is the norm.
“I want to hold the legislature accountable as truly representative of the people,” she said.
“The issue that propelled me into this race is education funding cuts,” said Mrs. Shumway. The $1.4 billion cut to education, she said, that was appropriated toward tax cuts for businesses should be directed back to schools.
She promises to work to restore the funding cuts to schools “because any improvement in our economy will demand an educated workforce.”
Other priorities include making educational funding equitable throughout the state and urging lawmakers to revisit the emphasis on testing as a measure of student success and as a basis for school funding.
“Education is not a business and it should not be run as one,” she said.
Economy and Environment
“Much of our economy depends on our environment,” said Mrs. Shumway. “In this neck of the woods they go hand in hand.”
She suggested the local economy could be built up by encouraging the growth of small, diversified agriculture and value-added agriculture such as farm stands, farm markets, and community farms. Other ways to encourage economic growth are by encouraging green and renewable energy development and production, encouraging the growth of eco-tourism, agricultural tourism, and cultural and recreational businesses, and by protecting “our most precious economic resource,” the environment, she said.
As a military wife, she understands what it’s like to give up years of freedom to serve others, she said, “and I know how difficult it can be to return to civilian life.”
Her husband served in the Air Force for six years.
Mrs. Shumway promises to work to make education and training easier for veterans to obtain by developing military transcript audit values that work for all Michigan colleges and universities instead of only a few. She also would like to create a “Northern Hub” for veterans’ services in the district to help veterans navigate all of the Web sites and forms required to receive services. Creating opportunities for veterans to return to the workforce is another priority for the candidate, “while not forgetting that their dependents may also need help with re-entry into civilian life,” she said.