In the following days, Fenton Patch will introduce to the area candidates running for public office in the upcoming election.
Today, we meet Joe Graves, R-Argentine Township, incumbent of the 51st District House of Representatives.
How long have you lived in the area?
I have lived in the 51st district most of my life. I grew up in Groveland Township and lived there until I entered the Army after graduating high school. I returned to the district in 1989 and have lived here with my wife of 30 years and our four adult children and 12 grandchildren since.
What community and civic organizations are you currently involved in?
- I am on the Executive Board of which is an anti-drug organization that helps to educate and work with students in local schools.
- I am also the co-founder of , an anti-drug presentation that has been given at numerous local schools talking about the consequences of drug abuse.
- I serve on the Executive Board of New Paths which assists individuals and families who are suffering with addictions.
- I am a member of the Disabled Veterans of America.
- I am a member of the American Legion.
Why did you want to run for office?
More than 50 years ago, my parents came to Michigan for opportunity. Unfortunately, Michigan had been on the wrong path for many years and suffered deep economic declines. The state is starting to make its comeback, but many communities and families continue to struggle. I want to make sure that Michigan is a place of opportunity once again for my four children and 12 grandchildren and the residents of the 51st district.
For that reason, I am seeking re-election to the state house to make the tough decisions when necessary, fight for jobs and to provide the resources and tools necessary for strong public safety in our community.
What personal and professional experiences make you qualified to hold that position?
As a small business owner, I know the struggles and challenges that job providers face. I will continue taking that experience to Lansing to provide a business climate that encourages small business to grow and hire more people.
As a former township official I also have the experience and knowledge to help and assist our local municipalities. As a local township official I learned that one of the most important things an elected official can do to be highly effective is to listen. As state representative I make it a priority to listen and take the concerns of my constituents to Lansing and deliver results.
What is the most important issue and what do you intend to do about it during your term in office?
Our district is sandwiched between Pontiac and Flint which are high violent crime areas. We also suffer from an extremely high unemployment rate. All residents want to feel safe in their homes and neighborhoods and as elected officials we need to do all we can to provide them with this service. I also believe crime is a deterrent for job providers and we must change this trend and current climate and the stigma associated with our area.
I also believe we need to provide a ready and able work-force. The current public education system requires all students to take a foreign language and Algebra II to help prepare them for college. The reality is not all students will attend college and should have a path available for them to pursue a vocation. This path must start in the K-12 program. Without it we are placing the burden on job providers and yet another road block to bringing job opportunities to our area.
What is your vision for the area, where do you see the area in 10 or even 20 years, and what does the area need to do now to realize that vision?
My vision for the 51st district and the State of Michigan are the same. We must be a place where there are job opportunities for its residents and safe communities for families to live.
To get to that point we must work at reducing the obstacles in the way for small businesses so that they can invest in our local area, expand their business and hire new employees.
We must also invest in public safety and provide all of our public safety hero's with the tools necessary to fight crime and keep our communities safe.
In my first 6 months in office i have fought for Jobs and public safety and if re-elected, I will spend the next 2 years focused on jobs and public safety.