As WDET examines elections throughout Southeast Michigan, Annamarie Sysling takes a look at the candidates running in the 11th District. Voters in the area –which includes Livonia, Novi, Troy and Birmingham– must choose between a Republican incumbent, a former Congressman, a software engineer and a surgeon. But, in order to understand what’s happening now in the race to represent Michigan’s 11th Congressional District, we have to go back a few years. That’s when longtime Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter was part of a scandal that ultimately led to his resignation. Democrat David Curson filled a special six-week term in the district. Then in 2012, Republican Kerry Bentivolio was elected.
“My background gives me an appreciation for all the small businesses, because all my businesses were small at one time, and the risk people take, and how hard they work and, frankly, today and in today’s environment, how hard it is for a small business to be successful and to be a job creator,” says Trott.
“You know I’m a veteran of Vietnam and Iraq and when I came home from Iraq, I was medevaced. I’m a disabled veteran with a 70 percent rating, and 11 months after I submitted my application they called me up and said they had lost my medical records,” says Bentivolio.
Bentivolio, a former reindeer rancher and English teacher, says it’s this first-hand experience with incompetence by the Veterans Administration that motivates him to want to make a difference through serving another term in Congress. Another of Bentivolio’s important issues is illegal immigration. He says he wants to crack down, even though he values the diversity that Green Card holders bring to this country. “You know if you can go out there and treat people as human beings, it doesn’t matter where they come from. You know, I believe that the reason this country is the greatest country in the world is because of the cultural, religious and ethnic diversity,” says Bentivolio.
One candidate who says he understands the role of diversity better than most is Anil Kumar– a Bloomfield Township-based urologist–who is, himself, an immigrant. “There are at least 20,000 citizens in the district that are of South Asian origin and since I am from India, I understand their culture, and so I would be very well versed with the issues that these minorities have, but my impetus is also on integration of the minorities,” says Kumar.
Kumar is the Chief of Surgery at Crittendon Hospital in Rochester Hills, a founding partner at Kumar Surgical Center and a clinical faculty member at Michigan State University. He has never held political office. Kumar says even though finding a solution to crippling student loan debt is a big concern for him, the first thing he would tackle –if elected– is health care reform for veterans and seniors.
“They deserve it, they have paid into our system all their lives by their hard work and it is our duty to make sure that our seniors get the best healthcare and that no veteran is jobless, homeless or helpless,” says Kumar.
“You see this revolving door of politicians, you have politicians that are not exactly representative of people anymore,” says Osment.
Osment says the country’s political system is flawed, but he hopes it can improve by having more regular people –like him– involved in politics. “There is still time to change the current political structure, and I feel like by electing normal people that’s the way we’re going to go about it and that’s what’s going to make us strong again,” he says.