Hood and Zandstra face off in 76th state House District race

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — State Rep. Rachel Hood, D-Grand Rapids, faces Republican challenger Doug Zandstra in the Nov. 3 general election for Michigan’s 76th House District seat.

Hood is seeking a second, two-year term representing the district that includes the north and southeast parts of the city of Grand Rapids.

But Zandstra, a self-employed accountant, is looking to flip the seat that has long been held by a Democrat.

Here is a look at the two candidates:

  • Hood, 43, of Grand Rapids, is finishing her first term represented the 76th District. Prior to being elected to the legislature, she was the senior project manager for Dig Deep Research. She also cites her experience as former executive director at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, public relations manager at Metro Health, and executive director at West Grand Neighborhood Organization. She said her bachelor’s degree is in social relations and policy from Michigan State University’s James Madison College.
  • Zandstra, 50, of Grand Rapids, shares in his profile that he has 25 years of experience as a Certified Public Accountant helping individuals and businesses navigate through complex financial issues enabling them to succeed. As a moderate Republican, he says he can work across the table. is a self-employed accountant. He said he earned a bachelors degree in accounting from Calvin College.

MLive Media Group partnered with the League of Women Voters of Michigan to provide candidate information for readers. Each candidate was asked to outline their stances on a variety of public policy issues.

Information on all state and federal races and many of Michigan’s county and local races is available at Vote411.org, an online voter guide created by the League of Women Voters.

Below are Hood and Zandstra’s unedited responses to five policy questions from education to economic security.

What is your position on the role of public funding of education in Michigan? What measures do you support/propose to improve educational outcomes and accessibility for all Michigan students?

Hood: For too long, Michigan has fallen behind in funding quality public education. We need to ensure teachers have resources like textbooks, technology, and hands-on learning opportunities to provide quality education to our students. We need to continue to increase funding for our public schools. In addition, we also need to expand access to higher education for all Michigan students who seek it including free two year community college/trade school and increased financial aid to those attending four year universities. For profit charter, public, and cyber schools should be held to the same transparency standards.

Zandstra: More funding as a percentage needs to go towards the education of students and less towards administration. With the fall budget crisis and uncertainty looming, schools are going to have to be innovative in their approach towards classroom learning and remote learning. I would support unlocking and expansion of the 529 program, as well as more limitations to the increase in tuition costs. I support school of choice, I will programs that include more parent involvement such as vouchers for private schools, tuition credits on Michigan income tax returns, and would explore any innovative opportunities and advances.

What policies do you support to increase jobs and help Michigan residents improve their economic positions, in general and given the pandemic?

Hood: Proposals 2 & 3 passed in 2018 are important steps in expanding voter rights in our state. No reason absentee is a great way to encourage voter participation by removing barriers to voting and I am supportive of Secretary Benson’s efforts to mail absentee ballot applications to all eligible Michigan voters. The citizens independent redistricting committee that will draw house and senate districts in 2022 is another positive example of election reform in our state. These, along with further emphasis on campaign finance reform, will continue to build a better balance of power that favors citizens and voters.

Zandstra: Michigan permits registering online, absentee voting, early mailing in of votes and voting in person without having your identification if you sign an affidavit. In my precinct I saw this happen while I was in line this during the last election where a voter forgot his wallet, and although it slowed everything down(not everyone was happy), it was fair. I support all of the above.

What actions or policies do you support to protect Michigan’s water, air and land for current and future generations? What is your position on energy efficiency and renewable energy?

Hood: My career is a demonstration of my longtime commitment to energy efficiency & renewable energy. I am interested in any effort to accelerate the integration of energy efficiency and clean energy in our communities. I am anxious to begin investing in a new grid system, as well as centralized and decentralized 21st century energy production solutions. I believe that this 100 year investment is important to our state and country’s economic wellbeing in the decades ahead of us – not to mention public health & safety. It is time to create new jobs and transition Michigan’s energy portfolio to more carbon neutral solutions.

Zandatra: As stewards of our natural resources we need to balance environmental health with economic progress and also allowing Michigan’s citizens to have access to out natural resources. I would independently evaluate each piece of legislation involving the environment using these criteria. Specifically. I would support reevaluating the policies in place involving private companies that are utilizing Michigan’s water supply for profit, as well as the ancillary effects. I would also reevaluate the policies involving the pipeline. Companies need to be held to the highest standard when working with our collective resources.

How would you address the racial, economic, health, education, etc. inequities, including Michigan’s 20% of children and 17% of seniors living in poverty?

Hood: As a state, we must take seriously the racial and economic inequities in our systems; public health and environmental justice, education, housing, criminal justice and more and enact policies that equitably fund schools, with special investments in traditionally marginalized communities. I am especially passionate about building pathways to ensure healthy and green homes in Michigan. No child should have chronic health issues from living in a lead-contaminated or unhealthy building. Economic issues are also top of mind. I support increasing the minimum wage to $15/hr and ensuring paid sick time & affordable childcare.

Zandstra: It is the responsibility of society that we contribute to the greater good. Michigan residents need to have the ability to individually contribute to social welfare programs and receive tax benefits and tax credits. I would support the initiation of tax credits and tax abatements for projects and programs that can demonstrate that they are fulfilling designated social contracts. These are likened to investments that can be simply enacted as tax credits used as programs to promote social objectives.

Do you believe that Michigan has a gun violence problem? If so, what measures would you support to alleviate this problem?

Hood: It is important to put in place common sense gun control policies that cut down on gun violence in our state. We need universal background checks on both public and private sales of guns in our state, even at gun shows. I support red flag laws to temporarily remove firearms from someone believed to be a danger to themselves or others are also needed. There are common sense gun control policies that don’t infringe on 2nd amendment rights. We need to move this agenda forward for the future safety of Michiganders.

Zandastra: I personally do not hunt or own guns but the second amendment protects those rights and should not be infringed upon. However in the interest of public safety I would support measures that keep guns out of the hands of criminals, felons, and those diagnosed with severe mental health disorders.

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