TRAVERSE CITY — Dan O’Neil wants Grand Traverse County voters to send him to Lansing to serve in the state House of Representatives.

O’Neil announced his candidacy for the House’s 104th District Tuesday. The attorney and former Traverse City planning commissioner said in a press statement that he’s motivated to run in part because he wants to strengthen schools, fix roads, lower health care costs and protect clean water and the environment.

Those issues were on the minds of voters O’Neil heard from when he ran in 2018, he said.

So too is the need for child care, O’Neil said. He criticized a decade-old decision to cut subsidies to child care, and cited research showing that a parent who drops out of the workforce to raise a child tends to stay out for 10 years on average. That lops an accumulated $450,000 off a family’s earnings on average.

“It’s money they’re not saving for their kid to go to college, it’s money they’re not putting into an investment fund, it’s money they don’t have to meet their daily household needs, and it’s money that there’s no tax revenue generated from,” he said.

O’Neil, who ran as a Democrat in 2018, could face former Grand Traverse County Republican Party Chairman John Roth, who announced he would run in July 2019, records show.

Both want to fill the spot currently occupied by Republican state Rep. Larry Inman, who will finish his third and final term at year’s end.

Inman narrowly defeated O’Neil in 2018, winning by 349 votes, as previously reported.

It’s that narrow loss that prompted O’Neil to try again, he said. He spoke to a lot of people and believes he sparked a conversation about what can be accomplished by working together.

“I would say this is sort of a continuation of that last campaign,” he said.

In 2019, Inman faced a federal indictment following accusations he tried to sell his vote against repealing prevailing wage laws. A jury cleared Inman of making false statements to the FBI in December but deadlocked on charges of soliciting a bribe and attempted extortion — he still could face retrial on those two charges, as previously reported. An attempt to recall Inman also fell flat when petitioners couldn’t muster enough valid signatures.

O’Neil and Roth will be on the ballot for the Aug. 4 state primary election, Grand Traverse County Clerk Bonnie Scheele said. No other candidates had filed as of Tuesday, and the deadline is April 21.

Check for updates to this developing story.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct a reporter's error omitting O'Neil's party affiliation. Feb. 26, 2020


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