I grew up in Alpena, Michigan, where I was lucky enough to be part of a large family that has roots in the area that go back over four generations. My grandparents' farm and our small, family sawmill dominated those early days. Then, the bigger world pulled me away, and I headed to East Lansing, where I completed a B.A. in history at Michigan State.
My journey carried me to the University of Missouri, where I completed my Ph.D., and then to Louisiana, where I began my career as a history professor. The years I spent in Louisiana offered up experiences that I could have found nowhere else on earth, but when the chance came to return home to Michigan, I took it. I returned to Michigan in 2013 to join the history faculty at Western Michigan University.
When I got to Kalamazoo, I immediately got to work contributing to the community. In my first months on the job, the faculty elected me as a member of the Association Council of the American Association of University Professors. Before the year was out, I had also been selected to serve on the Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Council. In the years that followed, I helped form Organize West Michigan, became co-chair of the Environmental Task Force of ProKzoo, joined the steering committee for the Kalamazoo Complete Streets Initiative, co-chaired the Kalamazoo Earth Day Festival, won election to Vice Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party Environment Caucus, and was a delegate for Senator Bernie Sanders to the Platform Committee of the Democratic National Committee.
With all of these activities eating up my time, you might wonder why am I running for Congress. The simple answer is that I don't believe the Federal Government is working in the best interests of the American people, and we face too many serious challenges today to let this continue.
Here is my pledge to you: If you elect me to Congress, every action I take and every decision I make will be for the good of the people of Michigan's Sixth Congressional District and the United States.
My longer explanation for why I am running is based on what I believe to be human rights and dignity. Clean water, air, soil, and food free from toxins, safe workplaces, healthcare, and equality under the law are human rights. These rights may not be enshrined in the Constitution, but I believe they are fundamental to the continuation of human society. In the United States, we must commit to ensuring the human rights of all people.
We must also protect the dignity of all the members of our communities if we want a nation where life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are possible. This means that everyone who works full-time must have a living wage. Education, whether academic, vocational, or another type, must never throw hard-working students into a lifetime of debt. The United States is a uniquely diverse nation, an identity that provides us an opportunity to be a model for the rest of the world.
All of these values rest upon a couple of crucial elements. The first of these values is good government. We are supposed to be a nation of, for, and by the people. We need to take back the government from the corporate interests that are corrupting the system, remove corporate cash and super PACs from their positions of control, and end gerrymandering. The second value upon which everything else rests is our role as stewards of the Earth. There can be no jobs, no nations, no communities, and no people on a dead planet. If we are ethical humans, we have to recognize our responsibility to leave the planet in a better way than we found it.
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