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Candidate forum examines kids' issues

In an effort to learn where candidates stand on children's issues, Mott Children's Hospital hosted a candidate forum that included people seeking state and federal offices.

The Oct. 17 forum, "Who's For Kids and Who's Kidding?," covered issues affecting children including welfare, spousal abuse and school programs. Although not all candidates in each race were present, the Republican and Democratic candidates for U.S. House District 15 were in attendance, which provided voters with a two-sided view of the issues.


John Dingell, a longtime Democratic member of Congress, discussed the recent expansion of work requirements for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients and how it has impacted families with young children. Dingell stressed that he voted against the legislation because it needs "more assistance on child care in the plan."

His opponent, Republican Martin Kaltenbach, said he supported such a plan because it "encourages work," which he feels is necessary for those on welfare.

The candidates agreed on aspects of the issue of child abuse and neglect. Both said the federal government needs to get involved, but differed on exactly how it should.

"The federal government needs to fund initiatives to help states help themselves," Kaltenbach said. Dingell said, "The federal government doesn't have responsibility over child care, but it needs to oversee the states better to make sure that the states are doing their job."

Other candidates present at the forum were Republican Beverly Hammerstrom (State Senate 17th District); Democrat Liz Brater, Republican Gordon Darr and Green Party candidate Elliot Smith (State Senate 18th District); Republican Nick Smith (U.S. House District 7); Natural Law candidate Doug Dern (U.S. Senate); Democrat Chris Kolb (State House 53rd District); Democrat Ruth Ann Jamnick (State House 54th District); and Democrat Pam Byrnes and Republican Gene DeRossett (State House 52nd District). Topics included a change in the adoption code to allow adoption by gay couples, pre-natal and early childhood developmental care, equal education for special needs students, funding for teen health clinics, and reimbursement for comprehensive care for children with chronic illness and special needs.

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