One Democratic candidate for the 79th District state House seat believes her experience as a Berrien County commissioner, among other things, has prepared her for a state office.

Her Democratic opponent says his young age will allow him to bring a needed perspective to Lansing.

Marletta Seats of Benton Harbor and Joey Andrews of St. Joseph will square off in the August primary election, competing for the Democratic nomination to the seat held by Kim LaSata, who is running for a Senate seat.

In addition to Seats and Andrews, five Republicans have joined the race and were profiled in a Sunday story in The Herald-Palladium.

A graduate of Dowagiac Union High School, Seats was a lead quality auditor at Bosch Corp. for 32 years and was the quality manager at Mintech in Niles for four years. She is a substance abuse counselor and president of the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education. 

While she was a Berrien County commissioner from 2005 to 2016, she served on the Economic Development and Taxation Committee, was vice chairwoman of the Administration Committee and chairwoman and vice chairwoman of the Personnel Committee.

Seats, 68, named disparity and environmental sustainability as two key issues she has taken on. She said disparity in age, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation throughout the county and state in the judicial, educational and workforce systems results in disparities in access to resources.

She said she is an advocate for clean air, clean water and quality soil, and takes serious the moral and civic responsibility of preserving the environment and protecting Lake Michigan.

Seats said if elected she would “continue the effort to repeal Michigan’s right-to-work law, work to increase state education funding to help ensure all Michigan youths are college-ready and academically competitive around the globe, and push for free community college tuition for all, or at least make it more affordable for all.”

She also said she would oppose “tort reform” or “any legislation that prevents any citizen who has been wronged from seeking rightful recourse, and not limit their ability to be justly compensated.”

She added, “All people are entitled through our inalienable constitutional right to receive fair judicial treatment.”

Andrews, a St. Joseph native and Wayne State Law School graduate, is 29.

“As a young person, I have a perspective that’s needed in Lansing. I want to bring a fresh progressive perspective to Lansing anchored in my experiences growing up and living in this community,” he said. “I want to make a difference in the lives of kids that want an education, work with small businesses that are struggling and need a break, and protect our Great Lakes and the environment for future generations.”

Andrews is a lawyer and owner of Parasol Solar. He cites his experience owning and operating small businesses, and his familiarity with the legislative process as a bar-certified lawyer as being his best qualifications for a state House seat.

“I know what good laws look like, and I know what kind of an impact poorly developed laws can have on our communities and the people who live there. It is important that our leaders be able to make these evaluations rather than just pass sweetheart legislation for lobbyists,” Andrews said.

He believes the No. 1 issue the state faces is an absence of fundamental fairness.

“Our schools are now rated among the worst in the nation and our wages are stagnant. People are working harder than ever, saving less than ever, and can barely afford to make rent,” he said. “Among my generation homeownership is at an all-time low, we are delaying having children, and many of my friends have left Michigan never to return.”

If elected, Andrews said, he would fight tirelessly to restore fairness and ensure that everyone has an equal chance at starting a family and a comfortable retirement.

“To do this we need to put people over profits,” he said. “This means lower medication costs and quality health care for every Michigander. This means free technical training and free education from Pre-K through college. This means restoring pensions for teachers and bargaining rights for the unions who go to bat for our workers. This means laws that give a break to small businesses and local farms rather than billionaires and giant corporations.”

Andrews said he believes every individual deserves a fair shot at success in life, and wants to see Michigan become a leader in the nation in providing such an opportunity.

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