Should I have the honor to serve as the next representative of Michigan's 13th Congressional District, I will partner with President Obama to create a comprehensive agenda that includes the entire new 13th District. Throughout this campaign, I have spoken with voters from Highland Park and Detroit to Romulus and Westland, and everywhere in between. I have found that even though we may have different stories and come from different backgrounds, we have mostly similar concerns, values, problems and ideas.
In the Michigan Legislature, I have led on many of the issues that matter to the people I am seeking to represent in Congress. This is represented in the 47 bills I have passed in my five-and-a-half years of service, including engineering the repeal of the Driver's Responsibility Fee.
- Jobs: I was a principal sponsor of the film industry tax incentives that employed hundreds of local residents both on and off the set and am a consistent advocate for funding them at appropriate levels. I have also creatively leveraged tax credits to spur economic development, such as historic rehabilitation credits that brought downtown Detroit's Broderick Tower and Argonaut Building from vacant a couple years ago to at or near capacity today. At the federal level, I will be a proponent of similar job creation strategies as well as public-private partnerships to rebuild our state's infrastructure. I recognize that the federal government cannot be a direct employer for more individuals than is necessary to manage its duties to its citizens, and I reject politicians who try to sell this false notion to voters.
- Foreclosure: I authored and passed the Save the Dream Act which, at the height of the housing market collapse, brought mortgage foreclosures in Wayne County down by nearly 40 percent within three months of enactment. This was done by forcing lenders to the table to renegotiate terms with borrowers. I have also sponsored legislation that would allow a judge to rewrite a mortgage to the home's current fair market value. On the federal level, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac must be reformed and Wall Street must be brought under control. Today, hardworking families cannot get loans from the same big banks that took our tax dollars in bailouts, while the reckless practices that led to the financial crisis continue unchecked.
- Regional/Mass Transit: In Michigan, I shepherded the legislation that enabled progress to be made on the M-1 light-rail system through a divided and bitterly partisan Legislature. Today, I am a principal sponsor of legislation to create a regional transit authority (RTA) in southeastern Michigan. As a result, I've been assigned to President Obama's Federal Transportation Task Force. Of the 41 largest metropolitan areas in the nation, we are the only one lacking an RTA and it is costing us many millions of dollars in federal transit dollars. In fact, the federal government refers to us as a 'donor state' because our dollars fund projects elsewhere in the country. Our current federal representation has been inexplicably absent on this issue. As a congressman, my committee of choice will be Transportation. I will leverage this position and my existing relationships with the Obama administration to ensure that worthwhile projects, like the M-1 Rail and a complete mass transit build-out, are given the green light from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Additionally, Detroit and southeastern Michigan must use its strategic trade and commerce location to its advantage. Detroit is already a major border crossing between the United States and Canada. Capitalizing on that trade route and adding to it through high-speed passenger and freight rail systems as well as the expansion of our port system can revitalize our city and region to become the hub of commerce it can and should be.
The issues facing our state and nation are great and many. I will work to end "too-big-to-fail" on Wall Street and reform the financial derivatives market. I will push to implement transparency in the system. The secret nature of the financial services industry led directly to the destructive risk-taking and mass bundling of subprime mortgages that led to our economic collapse. We should require derivatives traders to have a minimum amount of collateral so borrowing ability can be responsibly managed. I will work to ensure that President Obama's health care reform is implemented properly, tweaked where needed and that we find a way to expand Medicaid. I will also advocate for the drawing down of our military presence across the globe, including closing down unneeded active military bases in areas of the world that no longer pose a significant threat to our national security, while standing vigilant against entering future military conflicts.
I am not running for Congress based on pie-in-the-sky notions of what I will 'fight for' when I get there. I am presenting my track record that already exists, promising to work every day on behalf of the people who send me there and asking voters for one two-year term to make an impact on their lives. Should I fail to deliver, I will not seek reelection. I will not move to Washington, D.C.; rather I will remain a Highland Park resident and will raise my family here at home where my family has a 127-year history. Our current member of Congress has forgotten who he is supposed to work for. It is time to turn the page and I believe I can put forth the strongest, people-oriented, results-driven agenda in the new 13th Congressional District.
Senator Bert Johnson represents northeast Detroit, Highland Park, Hamtramck, Harper Woods and the Grosse Pointe Communities in the Michigan Senate. He is a candidate for Congress in Michigan's 13th District. To find out more about him and his candidacy, go to www.bertjohnson4congress.com, www.Facebook.com/SenBertJohnson, follow him on Twitter at @SenBertJohnson or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.