We the People: State House of Representatives Candidates – 2016 Primary

We The People 2016

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72nd District

The 72nd District includes the City of Kentwood and Gaines Township in Kent County and Leighton Township, Wayland Township, Dorr Township and the City of Wayland in Allegan County. The seat is currently held by Ken Yonker, who is vacating due to term limits.


Robert D. Coughlin – Candidate (R)

Occupation: Sales Management with an International Corporation

Residence: Kentwood


Why did you decide to run for the 72nd District Representative?
“I have an extensive background in local government. I’ve served the City of Kentwood for 20 years and have spent the last 13 as a city commissioner. I felt it was my time to take my background to Lansing.”


What issues would you address if elected?
“Michigan has been on a road to recovery for a while now, but we still have a way to go. With the number of strong universities we have in the state, we need to keep that talent from leaving the state. With my background in business and in local government, I’m hoping to improve the employment picture even further.”


Ryan Gallogly – Candidate (R)

Occupation: Social Studies teacher in Kentwood Public Schools

Residence: Gaines Township


Why did you decide to run for the 72nd District Representative?
“As a social studies teacher, I teach students to be actively involved. So, I figured I should as well! There are certainly improvements to be made regarding education reform and a more streamlined government, and I want to be a part of the solution.”


What issues would you address if elected?
“I would love to place an emphasis on K-3 education. K-3 is the foundation that education is built on. If we get the early ages addressed with the right curriculum and class sizes, the high scores in the older grades will follow.”


Steven Johnson – Candidate (R)

Occupation: Four years in the Air Force and now campaigning as a full-time candidate

Residence: Wayland Township


Why did you decide to run for the 72nd District Representative?
“I didn’t initially plan on running, but after seeing videos of Planned Parenthood selling baby parts while the government still chose to fund them, I decided to get involved. I called some local candidates to hear their stance and concerns with specific issues and didn’t receive a straight answer. I then chose to run myself.”


What issues would you address if elected?
‘We need to repeal Common Core. It’s a one-size method that doesn’t fit everyone. I’m Pro-Life and support a life at conception act. I would also stop corporate welfare. Too often big companies, like Switch coming into Gaines Township, are given big tax breaks.”


Steve Shoemaker – Candidate (D)

Occupation: Worked for Steelcase for 25 years as a Skilled Trades Journeyman. Retired in 2005.

Residence: Caledonia


Why did you decide to run for the 72nd District Representative?
“I saw some decisions that came out of Lansing that I didn’t agree with. The current 72nd district representative made some votes that I felt went against what he believed. As a leader its important to make tough decisions even if they’re not popular.”


What issue would you address if elected?
“The government needs to be made more transparent. Right now, Michigan ranks dead last in transparency. I would draft a bill to repeal exemption for Freedom of Information Act blockage for government representatives.”


Other candidates running for the 72nd District are Democrat Dick Cunningham, Republican Bill Hirsch and Republican Tony Noto.


77th District


The 77th District includes Byron Township and the City of Wyoming. The seat is currently held by Thomas Hooker of Byron Township, who is vacating due to term limits.


Tommy Brann – Candidate (R)

Occupation: Owner of Brann’s Steakhouse since he was 19-years-old.

Residence: Wyoming


Why did you decide to run for the 77th District Representative?
“I’ve always been interested in politics and admired the people who do it. I believe in free enterprise. There’s a lot of stories of entrepreneurs that I want to share not only with the government, but with children as well. I can help influence education.”


What issues would you address if elected?
“I would like to keep government simple. I believe the simpler, the better. Right now the state has $27.2 billion for teachers pension that is unfunded. The budget needs to be balanced, and that means no debt.”


Brann and Republican Frank Murin facing off in the primary for the Republican spot on the Nov. 8 general election. The Republican winner of the primary will face Democrat Dana J. Knight in November.


All candidates were contacted and invited to participate in sharing their message to the voters. Only contested races where the field would be narrowed or decided at the primary on August 2 were included.