Meet the Candidates
Senate and House hopefuls share why they’re running
By Northern Express Staff & Contributors | Oct. 29, 2022
In an election cycle, it’s easy to get caught up in attack ads and yard sign wars and stump speech fatigue. We lose sight of why folks are running in the first place and how they plan to serve us, the people and their voters. That’s why we asked each Democrat and Republican candidate in the U.S. House, Michigan Senate, and Michigan House races to answer three simple questions.
What motivated you to run in 2022? What’s the biggest issue you see facing northern Michigan? And why do you think you’re the right person for the job?
Bob Lorinser (Democrat)
1. What motivated you to run in 2022? Service. I have a strong sense of duty to my country, and after a lifetime of service as a social worker, medical doctor, and diplomat, I intend to continue my service as a member of Congress. My opponent is underperforming, and we need principled, ethical leadership in northern Michigan.
2. What is the biggest issue you see facing northern Michigan? Division. As we tackle larger issues—inflation, healthcare, and education—we must address the fractions in our divisive political climate. We need to begin to work together to implement real solutions to inflation. Enough blame. I expect Congress to actually solve problems, not exacerbate them with discord.
3. Why do you think you’re the right person for the job? Like many, I am fiercely independent, answerable only to the people I intend to serve. Service has been a cornerstone of my career. As a 30+ year resident, I understand our district’s distinct values. I’m motivated to represent all residents—regardless of political affiliation—with dignity and integrity.
Jack Bergman (Republican)
1. What motivated you to run in 2022? When I first ran for Congress in 2016, one of my biggest stated goals was to get the government off our backs and out of our pocketbooks. There is still a lot to do. Every day I’m motivated to fight for the needs of First District constituents.
2. What is the biggest issue you see facing northern Michigan? The economic hardships that Michiganders have to endure due to Washington's spending addiction. Poor policies have left northern Michigan and the U.P. struggling. Inflation is crushing our families—from the pain we are seeing at the pump to a looming major recession and an unprecedented unraveling of our economy.
3. Why do you think you’re the right person for the job? Representing a district the size of the First District takes dedication, commitment, and relentless effort. As a small business owner, veteran, and now serving on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and House Armed Services Committee, I have a unique perspective and continued opportunity to push forward good policies benefiting all of the constituents I serve.
Jerry Hilliard (Democrat)
1. What motivated you to run in 2022? To make the lives of the residents of our district better through rebuilding the middle class, creating a world-class healthcare system that everyone can afford, creating a more fair tax system, fighting gender and racial bias, and protecting and repairing our environment in Michigan.
2. What is the biggest issue you see facing northern Michigan? The biggest issue facing northern Michigan is protecting our environment; without a safe and healthy environment Michigan cannot reach its full potential.
3. Why do you think you’re the right person for the job? I am running to make life better for others, not to enrich myself! We need more people in elected office who are not in it for the wealth and power.
John Moolenaar (Republican)
1. What motivated you to run in 2022? To get our country back on the right track. Food and energy prices are at historic highs, your savings lose value every day, there is lawlessness on the southern border, rising crime across the country, and American students left behind by leaders who kept classrooms closed.
2. What is the biggest issue you see facing northern Michigan? Inflation has skyrocketed to its highest levels in 40 years. Free markets, free enterprise, innovation, and entrepreneurship are the foundation for economic growth and job creation. We must also unleash American energy production to reduce costs for American families and limit our reliance on foreign sources.
3. Why do you think you’re the right person for the job? I have years of leadership experience in the private and public sectors. Prior to serving in Congress, I was elected to serve in the State House of Representatives and State Senate. I have worked as a chemist, business development director, and as a school administrator.
Terry J. Sabo (D) and Jon C. Bumstead (R) did not respond to requests for comment.
Joel A Sheltrown (D) did not respond to requests for comment.
Michele Hoitenga (Republican)
1. What motivated you to run in 2022? I'm concerned about the direction our country and state are headed. I have the experience and heart to fight against the radical agendas responsible for our rapid decline. I feel obligated to run for senate to try and ensure our grandchildren enjoy the same freedoms and opportunities we were afforded.
2. What is the biggest issue you see facing northern Michigan? The plethora of issues we face are intertwined and of equal importance. Our economy is in shambles, students falling behind and frustrated parents, an influx of drugs causing unsafe communities, scarce workforce for businesses, an abundance of divisive political chaos, and the list goes on. We cannot continue this direction.
3. Why do you think you’re the right person for the job? I’m a former mayor, small business owner, and mom. I was born and raised in rural northern Michigan; I understand the tough times we are facing as a community. I have the experience, the heart, and the fight to be our voice in Lansing.
Barbara Conley (Democrat)
1. What motivated you to run in 2022? As a local volunteer and member of the local school board and board of health, I saw many working families unable to find housing, obtain mental health care, and obtain year-round good paying jobs. As senator, I want to bring resources to the area to keep young families in northern Michigan.
2. What is the biggest issue you see facing northern Michigan? We need to build more houses, particularly those that working families can afford. We need to bring living wage jobs and careers to this area. We also need to protect women’s reproductive rights—the right to privacy and the right to appropriate care throughout pregnancy.
3. Why do you think you’re the right person for the job? I am a listener and problem solver. I demonstrated these skills as a National Cancer Institute oncologist, negotiating with pharmaceutical companies, FDA, patient advocates, and 1,000 clinics for the first national cancer precision medicine treatment study. During COVID, I handled varied issues as health board chair and school board member.
John N. Damoose (R) did not respond to requests for comment.
Amanda Siggins (D) did not respond to requests for comment.
Joseph D. Fox (Republican)
1. What motivated you to run in 2022? My wife and I became involved in personal prayer and various prayer groups in response to the 2020 election. The message we kept hearing is that “We need believers in public office.” After you hear that about a “million” times you start asking, “Which office, Lord?”
2. What is the biggest issue you see facing northern Michigan? There is no issue larger than that of the sanctity of life. I am unashamedly pro-life. I believe with Psalm 139:13-14 that the Lord knit us together in our mother’s womb and that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We must not allow the confusing and extreme Proposal 3 to become a constitutional amendment in our state. It is both confusing and extreme.
3. Why do you think you’re the right person for the job? My platform is “Fox Fighting for Faith, Family, Freedom.” These three areas have especially come under attack in recent years. I believe that our nation was built upon faith and that it is foundational to developing strong families, and that it directly affects our freedoms. My focus on faith sets me apart from many others.
Brian Hosticka (D) and Curt VanderWall (R) of District 102 did not respond to requests for comment.
Betsy Coffia (Democrat)
1. What motivated you to run in 2022? I grew up in a hard-working family that was always paycheck to paycheck and faced struggles too many families still face, like being unable to afford needed healthcare. I’m in public service because I want leaders who listen and work tirelessly to ensure that Michiganders can enjoy dignity and opportunity.
2. What is the biggest issue you see facing northern Michigan? Access to housing, childcare, mental health, and protecting reproductive freedom. Following Roe’s overturn, it’s vital to elect pro-choice leaders to protect us from government interference in family planning. I believe family planning and reproductive health decisions belong between patients and their doctors. Period.
3. Why do you think you’re the right person for the job? I have lived experience with housing and healthcare access challenges and bring a fierce drive to address them. I have four years of proven bipartisan leadership as a county commissioner. I’ll keep the government out of family planning decisions.
Jack O’Malley (Republican)
1. What motivated you to run in 2022? After a full career in broadcasting and media, I decided to run for office because I wanted to give back to the community that had given me so much over the last many decades. I’ve referred to my time in office as my “six-year hitch.” I’m committed to serving our community to deliver results for working families in northwest Michigan.
2. What is the biggest issue you see facing northern Michigan? Right now, the biggest issue is housing. Coupled with our normal tourism industry and the rise of short-term rentals, there’s a lot we have to get done to make housing affordable. I’m focused on doing what I can to help build more housing and making sure that we have reliable public transportation to make sure people can get to work.
3. Why do you think you’re the right person for the job? Since I was first elected to office, I have developed a long record of accomplishments. This year, I championed a childcare bill package that the Governor signed that makes Michigan more childcare friendly. This is the most serious set of reforms on this issue in many years.
Cathy Albro (Democrat)
1. What motivated you to run in 2022? I am running because there is a huge need and opportunity to bring our communities together. Most of us have the same values and goals for our families and our communities. I'm committed to working together to provide opportunities and tools for everyone to live their best life.
2. What is the biggest issue you see facing northern Michigan? As I meet folks throughout District 104, I see the first-hand evidence of two distinct economies. One economy supports those with the means to live a lifestyle of comfort. A larger group of residents struggle to make ends meet as they work hard to provide the basic needs for their families.
3. Why do you think you’re the right person for the job? The job of representative includes listening to and collaborating with constituents. As a former teacher and small business owner, I have dedicated my life to public service and hard work to get things done. I am committed to doing the same as representative for our beautiful District 104.
John R. Roth (R) did not respond to requests for comment.
Adam J. Wojdan (Democrat)
1. What motivated you to run in 2022? To be simple and blunt, I was asked to run for State Representative for District 105 because there was no Democratic candidate. I felt that I could be that candidate who could represent this district.
2. What is the biggest issue you see facing northern Michigan? One of the larger issues that northern Michigan faces is environmental, from energy and natural gas, to the Line 5 pipeline from Canada. Michigan is known as the Great Lakes State, so we must make sure that we protect our lakes.
3. Why do you think you’re the right person for the job? I think that I am the right person for this position because I am just an ordinary person. I’m a hard worker who strives to help those around me.
Ken Borton (Republican)
1. What motivated you to run in 2022? I am working to protect our way of life in northern Michigan—supporting our hard workers and local businesses, conserving our natural resources, promoting outdoor recreation, and defending the freedoms we hold dear. I’ve worked hard to give our communities a voice in the legislature.
2. What is the biggest issue you see facing northern Michigan? The economy is tremendously important, especially now. The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns made it harder for northern Michigan families to get by, and inflation continues to hold people back. Many small businesses in northern Michigan suffered during the pandemic, and I supported a plan to provide relief to the businesses afflicted most.
3. Why do you think you’re the right person for the job? Northern Michigan is truly home for me. Before representing our district in Lansing, I served for 10 years on our Otsego County Commission. At the county and state level, I have advocated the needs of our community and worked to make our state an even better place to live and thrive.
Marie M. Fielder (Democrat)
1. What motivated you to run in 2022? I have been involved in local politics since 2015. Representative Sue Allor is at the end of her term. The seat is open. I’ve been an advocate for my professional career as a teacher/consultant and felt this was an extension of my work, only on a more widespread scale.
2. What is the biggest issue you see facing northern Michigan? There are many issues facing northern Michigan that are interrelated. This includes, but is not limited to, the inflationary costs of gas, goods, services, and housing. In addition, the availability of safe, warm, and affordable housing options is in limited supply all throughout northeast Michigan.
3. Why do you think you’re the right person for the job? I have lived in northern Michigan my whole life and I have raised my family here. I understand the issues that many citizens face and have worked with a multitude of social service, governmental, legal/law enforcement and medical professionals throughout the state of Michigan on behalf of area families.
Cam Cavitt (R) did not respond to requests for comment.
Jodi Decker (Democrat)
1. What motivated you to run in 2022? [When the] Jan. 6 insurrection took place, I thought that had to be the turning point, but the lies kept coming and people kept believing it. When I reached out to our county democrat office, they said we didn’t have anyone running for this district, so I decided to do it.
2. What is the biggest issue you see facing northern Michigan? Beyond women’s health rights and voting rights, affordable and subsidized housing is a need throughout the district and the state. This one issue is tied into so many others, but foster care reform is my main goal.
3. Why do you think you’re the right person for the job? I think that with all the experiences, personally and professionally, throughout my life, I can really empathize with others and get into someone else’s position. I am an advocate; I have a strong sense of right and wrong and common sense that is lacking lately.
Neil W. Friske (R) did not respond to requests for comment.