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On Monday, October 10, Cass County 43rd Circuit Judge candidates Mark Herman and Scott Teter faced off in a forum and were followed by Michigan House 59th District candidates Carol Higgins (D) and Aaron Miller (R) at the Southwestern Michigan College, Dowagiac Campus. The District 59 video is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPdaZmtUMuY and the Judicial debate can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4Q1RcJJnkM.
On Thursday, October 13, the two Michigan House 78th District Candidates Dave Pagel (R) and Dean Hill (D) and the two Michigan House 79th District candidates Kim LaSata (R) and Marletta Seats (D) met in a forum.
The Berrien RESA Conference Center in Berrien Springs hosted this event. Dave Pagel is the incumbent candidate in the 78th District being challenged by Dean Hill, and Ms. LaSata and Ms. Seats are vying for Al Pscholka's 79th District House seat vacated due to term limits. This video is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JszbeDoOszc
Also, on Thursday, October 13, the Niles Mayoral Candidates Robert Durm and Nick Shelton debated at the Niles District Library. You can see this debate at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8jt65gV8Xk.
The LWVBCC understands the importance of voters actually watching the candidates answer issue questions in an unscripted setting. Videos of past debates and forums can be viewed here http://lwvbcc.org/Videos.html.
All events are free and open to the public. For more information, go to the League's website http://www.lwvbcc.org.
John Rappaport clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and is currently on the faculty at the University of Chicago Law School. His teaching and research interests include criminal procedure, criminal law, constitutional law, federal jurisdiction, and evidence.
Judges of the state court system in Michigan are elected by voters to specified terms. By contrast, judges of the federal courts, including the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, are not elected. Rather, they are nominated by the President and appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate. Once appointed, they serve "during good behavior"--in effect, until they either die or resign.
In March, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the vacant position on the Supreme Court. Unless the pending nomination is approved by the current Senate, responsibility for filling that vacancy will rest with the President and Senators holding office next year. Consequently, the composition, duties, and role of the U.S. Supreme Court remain major issues in this election cycle.
The League of Women Voters of Berrien and Cass Counties http://www.lwvbcc.org/ is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy. The LWV promotes an informed electorate by providing information at http://www.vote411.org/ .
November 8, 2016, General Election
As of this writing, the 10 Ballot Proposals which had been proposed for the November ballot were not approved by the legislature and will not appear on the ballot. The issues that had been proposed were: Stop Overcharging, related to medical goods or services; Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan; Protecting Michigan Taxpayers; Michigan Cannabis Coalition; Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Committee; Raise Michigan; Citizens for Fair Taxes; Let's Vote Michigan; Fair Michigan; and Abrogate Prohibition Michigan.
LOCAL BALLOT PROPOSALS
There are, however, numerous ballot proposals which will appear on ballots and affect local jurisdictions. You can find them by accessing the websites of the Berrien and Cass County Clerk websites.
The League of Women Voters will host over 30 Town Halls throughout the fall to educate the public on the importance of redistricting. Their presentation will explore how legislative lines are drawn in Michigan, who draws them and why it is a critically important question for those concerned about fair representation.
"In Michigan the district lines are drawn by elected officials in the legislature, effectively allowing politicians to choose their voters, rather than voters their elected leaders," said Judy Karandjeff, President of the League of Women Voters of Michigan. "This system gives the political party in power at the time a tremendous advantage but is this the best system for voters? Our Town Halls will explore central questions, such as: What are the consequences of partisan drawn districts that favor one party over another? Is there a better and fairer way to do this? What are the alternatives?"
The U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision on Arizona's Independent Restricting Commission said there is an alternative and that citizens, not just politicians, have the right to decide how Congressional district lines are drawn. The decision has grabbed the public's attention. Some have asked if Michigan, like Arizona, should use an independent commission to draw the lines, not only for the Congressional Districts, but for the State House and Senate, as well. This alternative and others will be explored in-depth at the town hall.
"Government is supposed to of, by and for the people, but more and more it seems to ordinary voters that their voices are not being heard and that our elected leaders are becoming more extreme, less compromising and more disconnected from a public they are supposed to serve," said President Karandjeff. "Instead, special interests and lobbyists seem to get the attention of our elected leaders. We need to ask fundamental questions about why this is happening and whether allowing politicians to draw their own districts contributes to the problem." A complete list of Town Halls by date and location can be found on the League of Women Voters website at http://www.lwvmi.org. The events are free and open to the public. All are invited to attend.