82nd District House seat will be decided Tues., Nov. 3rd

LAPEER COUNTY — Republican Gary Howell is seeking re-election to Michigan’s 82nd District House of Representatives seat on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

He will be challenged for the long held Republican seat by Democrat Jerry Tkach of Lapeer.

North Branch resident Gary Howell took office in March 2016, replacing Republican Todd Courser, who was forced out of office. His current term ends Dec. 31, 2020.

Howell received a B.A. Degree in Economics, History and Government from Michigan State University in 1968; and earned his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1974.

He owns and operates a farm and served as the attorney for several Lapeer County townships, villages and cities from 1974 to 2015.

A U.S. military veteran, Howell served in the Army in 1969-1970.

As the 82nd District representative, Howell has served on several House committees, including Local Government, Municipal and Finance, Judiciary, Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Committee, and as Transportation Committee Chair.

“I want to thank Lapeer County voters for the support they have given me in the last three elections for state representative,” Howell said. “If re-elected, this will be my final term in the House. I deeply appreciate the confidence the people of Lapeer County have thus far placed in me. I will not let them down.

“The past eight months have been the most challenging and most frustrating of my time in office, “ Howell continued. “Thankfully, the Michigan Supreme Court has finally restored the proper constitutional balance so we legislators can work with the executive office in dealing with the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Those of us in state government need to work at setting partisanship aside,” Howell said. “We did that last week when the Legislature negotiated with the Governor to extend unemployment benefits, protect nursing home residents, and provide COVID-19 lawsuit liability protections.

“It is important that we now allow people to safely return to their normal lives,” he said. “Schools need to teach students in person, local governments need to hold public (not virtual) meetings, businesses need to be allowed to operate, and state government employees need to return to their offices so citizens can receive services they deserve.

“The continued closure of the Secretary of State and Unemployment Offices is unjustified,” Howell said. “If employees in private enterprise can safely work in their offices, state employees can do the same.
“We will work through this pandemic by pulling together, working hard, and using prudent health practices.” said Howell.

“Americans have always risen to a challenge. We successfully dealt with the Great Depression, World War II and many other seemingly insurmountable problems. The current crisis is nowhere near the largest challenge this country has faced. We will solve it—and I will do my part.”

Jerry Tkach faces an uphill battle to unseat Gary Howell in a district that hasn’t voted Democratic in decades.

A retired Lapeer teacher, Tkach’s 30-plus years as an educator has included teaching at-risk students, working at the district’s alternative high school, and most recently as a GED teacher at the Genesee County

If elected to the Michigan House, Tkach said he will adhere to the following principals: compassion, cooperation, creativity and commitment.

While not criticizing his opponent directly, Tkach expressed an overall negative view of Michigan’s Republican-controlled legislature.

“The Republican leadership of our gerrymandered state legislature has continued to challenge the current Governor’s authority in controlling the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Tkach said. “This is not the time to be playing politics with the lives and livelihoods of the citizens or our state. We must work together to find ways to balance the public safety, while instilling confidence to venture out and jump-start our economy again.

“The political polarization of safety practices to combat the pandemic must end,” he said. “Some of the rationale for challenging mandates to wear masks in public hinge on arguments of liberty and individual freedom.

“This virus is insidious because so many carriers are without symptoms, the possibility of spreading it to others is avoidable if we simply exercise precautions like wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.”

TKach worries that the prevalence of hateful political rhetoric can potentially lead to violent actions on the part of extreme partisan individuals and groups.

“The domestic terrorists who plotted to kidnap and murder our Governor and planned attacks on local law enforcement found a welcome home among the anti-Whitmer sentiments promoted by the far right,” Tkach continued.

“I remember it was Republican Gov. Rick Snyder who usurped the authority of Flint’s elected officials, and whose cost-cutting measures led to the poisoning of thousands of citizens — including children. I don’t recall proponents of liberty and freedom rallying in support or Flint’s residents, or calling Gov. Snyder an ‘idiot.’”

A proponent for public education, Tkach believes dedicated educators are integral to Michigan’s and the Nation’s futures.

“Society is relearning the value and importance of public eduction,” he said. “Virtual schools cannot fulfill the needs of the majority of school-age children. It is the one-on-one attention teachers give their students that is the key to addressing the needs of all of our children.

“In this election, the choice is clear,” said Tkach. “Whereas conservatives wish to return to a world they imagine as it once was; one that benefits the privileged few; progressives seek to foster a society as it could be; one which benefits all of our citizens.”

Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.