Editor's note: Dale Murrish is a conservative political blogger who lives in Troy.
Two well qualified candidates are running for state representative for an open seat in Troy/Clawson this year. They have different backgrounds and political perspectives.
Four year Troy City Council member Mary Kerwin ran unopposed in the Democratic primary in August. With a BA in English and additional leadership training, she served eight years on the Troy School Board. Her other awards and accomplishments are listed on her website.
Twelve year Troy City Council member Martin Howrylak won a contentious three way race in the Republican primary. With a BS in Geology and a Master’s degree in Accounting, he is the only licensed and practicing CPA in the race. Of the eight original ideas that were on his campaign platform in 2000 when first elected to the Troy Council, all eight were achieved before he left office. More information about Martin can be found on his website.
Mary Kerwin’s platform is to bring our tax dollars back to our local communities, criticizing the 40% cut in revenue sharing enacted by the current legislature. She doesn’t say where the money would come from, however, and since the state budget must be balanced, the higher spending must ultimately come from higher taxes.
Martin Howrylak has ten specific proposals listed on jobs and the economy, fiscal health, and education. He displays a better understanding of issues that affect our whole state. His first proposal, phasing out the personal income tax and replacing it with a consumption-oriented tax that is fair to low-income people (not stated but implied) would follow the lead of other states that have stronger economic growth than Michigan.
Howrylak also took more time to answer questions about the auto industry than Kerwin. You can read their comments in my article about the Chevy Volt.
Mary Kerwin Endorsements
“Community leaders and elected officials–Republicans, Democrats and Independents have endorsed Mary’s candidacy for State House Representative, and frequently mention her ability to build consensus with all groups.”
Unfortunately, she does not name any of her endorsements and supporters (particularly Republicans) on her website. Here are some of them:
- Organization of School Administrators And Supervisors Union, AFL-CIO
- Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider
- Sierra Club
- United Auto Workers
- Greater Lansing Labor Council
- Metro Detroit AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor - Congress of Industrial
- Troy Education Association, member of Michigan Education Association
- Democratic State Representative Lisa Brown (censured for her sexist pro-abortion comment on the floor of the House)
- Michigan Area Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, AFL-CIO.
American Federation of Teachers.
- International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Martin Howrylak Endorsements
- Michigan Chamber of Commerce,
- Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce,
- Michigan Manufacturers Association,
- Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants,
- National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)
- Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM).
- Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard,
- State Senator John Pappageorge,
- State Representative Marty Knollenberg,
- Right to Life of Michigan,
- Jerry Zandstra,
- Citizens for Traditional Values,
- Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP),
- Michigan McDonald's Operators Association PAC,
- many other leaders, and is the only candidate in the race to sign the Americans for Tax Reform Pledge.
Fall Campaign – Vicious Personal Attacks from the Left
After winning a bruising Republican primary with much mud slung at him, Howrylak wrote an open letter in the Oakland Press asking Kerwin to sign a pledge to run a positive campaign. This request and the certified letter he sent to her went unanswered.
Instead, shadowy groups sent defamatory false information about him and his family. Discerning people can easily dismiss that since PACs can be formed by anyone with the money for mailings. It still is hurtful and casts a cloud of doubt over someone’s character.
I’ve known Martin Howrylak for almost twenty years, watched him serve on Troy’s council for twelve and believe he is not only honest but straightforward. Martin’s opposition is purely political and comes from people who do not know him like Sharon MacDonell and others who hide behind a faceless PAC.
Since Mary Kerwin technically has no control over PAC mailings (she may or may not have known about them; I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt), I will only address the four negative points she made in one of her official campaign mailings.
Mary Kerwin Negative Campaign Mailing
The first point accused Howrylak of missing many council meetings. He had no unexcused absences, however, in twelve years on city council, while Kerwin was late or absent (unexcused) to 30% of the City of Troy Employees Retirement System board.
This tit-for-tat misses the bigger point that much work is done outside meetings, in government and the private sector. An efficiently run meeting is necessary to hold people accountable, but much of the real work is done outside the meeting.
In industry, people bring their results to the meeting; a meeting every few weeks holds them accountable to making progress on the work. Government is no different: much of the real work is done behind the scenes, with emails, private discussions and negotiations, etc. Important discussion of issues and votes are taken at the meetings.
Blocking “Progress” or Wasteful Spending?
The second point accused Howrylak of blocking progress with more No votes than any other council member. Around 400 No votes out of 8000 during twelve years on the council, including every tax abatement and repeated votes on wasteful spending like the convention center and the unnecessary new I-75 interchange at Long Lake.
His principled opposition to tax abatements is hopefully something Howrylak can address in the state legislature, not merely vote against at the city council level. Certain other “progress” is wasteful spending that needs to be blocked.
Guilt by Association
The other two points were classic guilt by association: Howrylak’s Republican Party would do such and such…
Martin Howrylak does not hesitate to criticize other Republicans when he disagrees with them on policies. I seriously doubt if he agrees with the Republicans named in Kerwin’s flyer.
Unlike many of his political opponents, Martin Howrylak knows the difference between a policy disagreement and a personal attack. I’ve never seen him engage in the latter, despite the venomous attacks he has received from citizens and subtle shaming criticism from other council members.
Democrat Mary Kerwin had no opposition in the primary. Her campaign literature downplays her political party, which makes sense because this district has not elected a Democrat since at least 1980. You can’t blame her for putting her best foot forward to try to get elected, but she really is better suited to Troy’s provincial politics than statewide office.
Republican Martin Howrylak has run his trademark positive campaign, responding to some of the criticism by comparing their records and ignoring some of the more outrageous false claims. He brought transparency and accountability to Troy’s city government while achieving fiscal stability during challenging economic times. He’ll represent us well in Lansing.
I endorsed Martin Howrylak in the Republican primary, walking in the Clawson July 4 parade for him. After further analysis and watching how the fall campaign has played out, I see fewer reasons to support his opponent and more reasons to support him. I’ll be voting for him on Tuesday and encourage you to do the same.