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.