Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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3 vie for 56th District seat in Mich.

Democrat, 2 Republicans seek to replace Zorn

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The Aug. 5 primary ballot for state representative in Michigan’s District 56 features three candidates — two Republicans and a Democrat — for the seat held by state Rep. Dale Zorn (R., Ida), who is running for the state Senate.




The district encompasses most of Monroe County, but excludes London, Exeter, Ash, Berlin, and Frenchtown townships, and the city of Monroe.




The Republican race pits Irma Kubiske of Ida Township, a newcomer to elective politics, against Jason Sheppard, a Temperance resident in his second term as a Monroe County commissioner representing District 8, which includes most of Bedford Township except for Lambertville.

Ms. Kubiske, 59, manages a family engineering firm in Dundee, a job she said “gives me a feel for the political arena. We’ve worked with state agencies, such as MDOT [Michigan Department of Transportation], and understand what their requirements are. I’m aware of what’s going on. It’s not new for me.”

Mr. Sheppard, 35, sells commercial real estate, has a house-flipping business in Monroe, and owns a commercial snow-removal company. His endorsements include Right to Life of Michigan, the Michigan Township Association, and the Monroe County Association of Realtors.

His almost four years as a county commissioner have given him a solid grounding in Michigan government at its various levels, he said.

“If you look across the state, most legislators have come from county boards. The experience gives you a good insight into what is going on locally and a good understanding of the legislative process,” Mr. Sheppard said.

The Democrat in the primary is Tom Redmond, who is running unopposed and assured of a spot on the November ballot. A Lambertville resident, Mr. Redmond, 65, retired as a Monroe County sheriff’s deputy after 37 years and is a part-time police sergeant in Dundee. He also coaches girls’ softball at Summerfield High School and junior high.

An Army veteran, the 65-year-old Mr. Redmond was Monroe County deputy of the year in 1979 and officer of the year in 2001. Much of his support comes from organized labor, with endorsements including the American Federation of Teachers of Michigan, Laborers Local 499, and Michigan AFL-CIO.

He said he is known across the county and has been knocking on doors every day until dark even though he is a shoo-in for his party’s nomination.

“I’ve been hearing about the poor road conditions,” he said.

Michigan’s crumbling roads are a big topic this election season. Ms. Kubiske calls them “the number one issue on people’s minds,” and said that as a legislator she would work to transfer money from other areas for road maintenance “without increasing taxes. I’m a fiscal conservative.”

Mr. Sheppard said he wanted to reform the funding formula for roads, which can give disproportionately more to counties with smaller populations and less traffic. He also believes the state should use a funding mechanism other than the fuel tax, from which revenue has declined because of more efficient vehicles and higher fuel prices.

Mr. Redmond said a road-funding solution should not raise taxes on the middle class and seniors.

“I support portions of the plan that passed the [Michigan] House [of Representatives] recently, including a bill that would increase fines and fees on the biggest trucks and ensure this money goes directly to, and is used for, road repair and improvement funding.”

Contact Carl Ryan at: or 419-724-6095.

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