The Aug. 7 primary election is drawing closer every day, but how much do you really know about the names on the ballot?
Patch is interviewing candidates running in the Aug. 7 primary, including the five candidates for the 40th District's seat in the Michigan House of Representatives.
The seat is currently filled by Rep. Chuck Moss (R-Birmingham), who is unable to run for re-election this year due to term limits ().
, the 40th district will be composed of Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, and a portion of West Bloomfield.
Running for the spot on the Republican ticket are and longtime , as well as Bloomfield Hills Commissioner Mike McCready and .
The Oakland County League of Women Voters will hold a meet-the-candidates forum from 7-9 p.m. on July 24 at .
Family: Wolkinson has a mother and a father who recently retired after 41 years from Michigan State University. He has two sisters, one 33 and another 28, who don't live in-state due to work: "Unfortunately that's a pretty common story," Wolkinson said. "It's why I am so committed to making Michigan the best place in the world to do business, so we can bring jobs here and give young people a chance to stay."
Education: Wolkinson is a graduate of Akiva Day School, Southfield-Lathrup High School, and the University of Michigan, where he earned three degrees: a bachelors and masters in Economics, and a law degree.
Occupation: Wolkinson is an attorney and a small business owner based in West Bloomfield. He claims to have created hundreds of jobs as an executive at America Works. In the political arena, Wolkinson served as Gov. Rick Snyder’s policy director in his 2010 campaign.
Residence: Wolkinson has lived in West Bloomfield since 2008.
Other activities: Wolkinson is well-known in the Michigan Republican Party, having united former congressional campaign opponents Rocky Raczkowski and Paul Welday in support of his campaign. Other higher-ups in the Oakland County Young Republicans, Greater West Bloomfield Republican Club, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee have united to support Wolkinson.
Why are you running for state representative?
Wolkinson says he has a historical grasp of Michigan's economy and hopes to use it to better the state's future. He said that he became involved with Snyder's campaign in response to the tax policies of then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
"(Snyder) understood that over the course of several generations, we had chased businesses and jobs away," Wolkinson said. "With the Single Business Tax and then with the Michigan Business Tax (MBT), we created tax regimes that were downright punitive to businesses."
Wolkinson is proud of the effect that replacing those taxes with a flat corporate income tax has had and hopes to take it further. He claims that the current corporate income tax (CIT) is projected to bring in less than one percent of the state budget and by eliminating that, along with other taxes, Michigan could be a better place to do business.
"Getting rid of the MBT was good, but I don't want to just be good, I want Michigan to be the best place in the world to do business. Getting rid of the CIT (as well as the Personal Property Tax) would move us a long towards the goal of becoming the best place in the world to do business," Wolkinson said.
What are new ideas you would bring to the position/district?
Wolkinson claims that while his idea for the CIT may be new, it's only one step to improving the job market in Michigan. He also hopes to make Michigan a right to work state in order to right the wrongs of the past — including foreign auto makers setting up shop in other states in order to avoid excessive restrictions from powerful unions.
"We still have the infrastructure and the eco system to be a manufacturing powerhouse, but to be competitive with other manufacturing states, we need to give employers the opportunity to compete for the loyalty of their workforce," Wolkinson said.
What do you think are the biggest issues facing Michigan?
Regulations hurting big business has trickled down, Wolkinson said, to young people who have been leaving Michigan in droves and putting its future tax base in jeopardy. Wolkinson points to his experience on Snyder's campaign, meeting small business owners in explaining his stance.
"The single biggest thing that they complained about were the regulatory burdens that their businesses faced," Wolkinson said. "The only way to bring more jobs here is to continue improving our business climate. We still suffer from regulatory structures that inhibit the operation and growth of Michigan businesses."
Wolkinson hopes to bring young people back into the fold by making Michigan a more hospitable place to invest, as opposed to Granholm's Cool Cities Initiative aimed at college students to keep them from leaving upon graduation.
"I don't think the government can or should decide which cities are cool and which are not. If businesses start investing in Michigan that will create jobs. Some of our best and brightest want to stay but we need jobs for them in order for them to have the opportunity to stay," Wolkinson said.
Who else is running? Meet the candidates for the Michigan House of Representatives Patch has interviewed so far: