Election 2016: Brenda Lawrence Candidate Questionnaire

WDET sent identical questionnaires to Congressional primary candidates. Here’s how Brenda Lawrence answered:



Why are you running for Congress?

I am running for re-election to continue my work representing the constituents of the 14th District. I believe in the core principle of public service. I want to be a voice for the citizens that I represent and fight for the issues the will improve and preserve their quality of life as American citizens.  


What qualifies you to run for Congress?

Prior to being elected to Congress, I had a 20 year career in public service, from the school board, to city council and then as a mayor.  In each of these roles as a public servant, I had the opportunity to learn through experience, how the federal government can assist or be an obstacle to our communities.  I draw on my experience to support policy that will make our communities stronger, because it is true, all politics are local, and it is the strength of our communities that determines the overall strength of our nation. 


What do you consider the major issues facing your district?  Please name at least 3.

Education, transportation & infrastructure, jobs.  The 14thDistrict is such an economically and culturally diverse district nearly every issues that comes before Congress has a direct impact on some corner of the District.  So it is a challenge to prioritize them.  Other issues that are critical are veterans’ services, immigration reform, criminal justice reform, gun reform legislation, returning citizens, refugee issues, border patrol security, protecting the Great Lakes, senior services and aging in place issues, small business loans and grants, environmental justice, homelessness, affordable housing and mental health care issues. 


How do you plan to address these issues if elected?

I have been in office for 1 year and 7 months.  I have been a strong voice in fighting for commonsense gun control.  I have sponsored bills to introduce technology into highway infrastructure for vehicle road connectivity.  I have trained my District staff to address the social security, housing, tax, immigration and veteran cases from our citizens.  I serve on the Small Business Committee and have hosted in the 14th district forums such as import export, grants and women owned businesses.  I am the founding member of the Skilled Trades Work Force Caucus. I was the leading voice in the Flint Water Hearing in front of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  I sponsored an amendment which was passed into law that requires educational data be gathered on the academic performance of all foster children.  


Are you formally endorsing a candidate for President?

I have formally endorsed Hillary Clinton.  I firmly believe that she is the best qualified candidate.


In broad terms, what do you believe is the relationship between the federal government and local units of government?  What is in your record that supports and informs this philosophy?

I believe that the federal government needs to act in such a way to support and operate in harmony with local units in government.   As a 14 year Mayor I served on the Executive Board of the US Conference of Mayors and lobbied and advocated for federal funding for Community Block Grants.  I also was a strong voice to maintain the TIGER grants for investments into local infrastructure.  I demanded that the Michigan Governor and Emergency Manager be called as witnesses in the Flint Water Crisis during the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing.  


What is your opinion on:


Raising the age of Medicare eligibility?

I am opposed to raising the age of Medicare eligibility.


Taxing investor income on municipal bonds?

Certainly if the investors made their initial investment based on the municipal bond being tax free, that promise should be kept.


Establishing an internet sales tax?

I have concerns about sales tax revenues that should be going to states being avoided through internet sales loopholes.  I do think that more research is necessary.


Transportation-related infrastructure and prioritization of road repair vs. transit vs. non-motorized projects?

In Southeast Michigan, our region suffers from the lack of reliable, affordable mass transit, we need that critical infrastructure to continue our economic recovery. I am very concerned about the lack of investment into our existing roads and infrastructure.  There must be an investment in non-motorized projects as they play a critical role in our overall mobility plans.


Energy policy and how it may support local investments in renewable power and support for financial incentives to increase energy efficiency?

I do believe that it is fully appropriate to use vehicles such as tax incentives to encourage businesses and individuals to invest in renewable power.  We must protect the environment while taking care of our planet responsibly for future generations.