BY GLENN PUIT
TRAVERSE CITY — Republican Ray Franz said his work to cut spending and reduce government regulation warrants his reelection to the Michigan House of Representatives in the 101st District.
"I ran on a simple platform, and I've accomplished everything I've campaigned on," Franz said. "Eliminating the Michigan business tax and balancing the budget ... cutting regulations. That's what I ran on."
Franz's Democratic opponent, Allen O'Shea, portrays the incumbent as out of touch with voters, pointing to Franz's voting record on education funding and the environment.
"He's chopped up the educational budget by a billion dollars — he's been a party to that," O'Shea said.
Franz said at a candidate forum in Leelanau County that "global warming is a hoax" and the League of Conservation Voters put Franz on its "dirty dozen" list for votes to put a cap on public lands, to potentially open sensitive sand dunes to some construction, and to stop Michigan from adopting Great Lakes protections stronger than the federal government's.
"Is that the kind of legislator we want representing the 101st?" O'Shea said.
Franz is an advocate for increased dredging and maintenance work at 15 harbors in Michigan by tapping federal Harbor Maintenance Trust Funds. The longtime grocer from Onekama said the state is working to find appropriate, equitable funding sources for both municipalities and schools.
He believes the state's property tax structure needs to be changed and government regulations reduced.
"We want to keep the state moving forward (with a) more business-friendly climate," said Franz, who declined to comment on O'Shea's background, noting he wants to run on his record.
O'Shea, owner of Contractors Building Supply and a longtime Manistee County commissioner, said he wants to balance the state budget but "not on the backs of the middle class and seniors."
"We need to take a look at a statewide energy policy that's not being run by our utilities," O'Shea said, adding protecting the Great Lakes are a top priority.
"Our Great Lakes and clean water are off limits, in my view," O'Shea said.