Slagh and Banks face off in 90th state House District race

OTTAWA COUNTY, MI — State Rep. Bradley Slagh, R-Zeeland, will face Democratic challenger Christopher Banks in the Nov. 3 general election for Michigan’s 90th House District seat.

The conservative-leaning district in Ottawa County includes Holland, Zeeland, Hudsonville and Jamestown Township.

The candidates vying for the two-year seat are: State Rep. Bradley Slagh, R-Zeelend; and Democrat Christopher Banks, a quality assurance professional who lives in Holland.

Meet the two candidates:

  • Bradley Slagh, 63, of Zeeland, is the incumbent state representative for the 90th District. He earned a degree in business administration and a teaching certificate from Hope College. In addition to his first term as state representative, Slagh worked in finance for 18 years, served as Zeeland Township supervisor for six years and as Ottawa County treasurer for 12 years.
  • Christopher Banks, 44, of Holland, works in the manufacturing industry. Banks, in response to questions about his education, listed Ross Medical Education Center, Davenport University and Dale Carnegie. Banks has experience as a mentor, counselor and as an ordained minister.

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 Slagh and Banks’ unedited responses to six policy questions on issues ranging 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?

Slagh: Quality education for every Michigan child should be the expectation. We need flexibility in the options including traditional public, public academies, private or parochial schools and home schooling. To improve we must allow innovation, best practices and flexibility for instructors. It needs to include on-line, possibly year round options, and the Governor’s recent Executive Orders eliminated almost 100 specific education expectations, and if they were not necessary in a Pandemic they should all be reviewed and many likely permanently jettisoned.

Banks: I believe that we have to invest in our children by wholly supporting public schools. Funding privately owned charter schools at the expense of public schools, is not good practice. I propose a more definitive structure in pre-school education by introducing young people to other languages, reading and comprehension. Using a “hooked on phonics” approach is one way we will help our students. Adding budgeting courses to elementary would also be a great asset. If we prepare our youth for the global stage, we will gain more than loss in my humble opinion. They will progress beyond what we can conceive.

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

Slagh: Reduce state and local ordinances, laws and rules as they increase the cost of doing business thereby negatively impacting ability to hire and pay workers. Regarding the pandemic we must allow businesses to all come back on line, as the shut down is killing business and the incentive to work.

Banks: My aim is to incentivise people by allowing accessible courses at no upfront cost. Residents who want too, can obtain technical training to acquire the higher paying jobs that we are currently unable to fill here in Michigan. Drawing more students after high school who are not interested in attending an expensive 4 year college to community colleges and training centers . Who may provide robust practical learning systems that be acquired in a shorter time. Will boost our our livelihoods and economy. It’s a win-win!

What state policies do you support regarding Michigan elections, voting and campaign funding? Do you support mailing ballots to all eligible voters?

Slagh: I support a no reason absentee ballot. I support a voting day that the polls are open for voters to walk in and cast ballots. I support having to show a pictured Michigan identification to vote. I do not support mailing ballots to all.

Banks: I support policies of allowing voters to register even on the day of the election. Absentee ballots/vote by mail has made a significant difference this year especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I think this year we will have record votes because of it. My hope is that our democracy will not die, based on the rhetoric coming from the current president who my opinion is trying the derail our right to vote. We Michiganders have a duty to protect our voting rights with the help of our state government.

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?

Slagh: We must be stewards of our environment and protect it. We need to continue to look for ways to be more efficient in our use of all resources. This includes not only a first use but can we reuse materials and land fill less. Renewable energy sources and wise usage should be sought out but the government should not be subsidizing general utilization of any energy sources.

Banks: I will have to do more in-depth review of Act 451 of 1994. We currently have a general overview of environmental law that need to be more specific in it’s language. PFAS has been a major concern in our area. The Enbridge pipeline is huge a concern of mine. Preservation of our Great Lakes, water sources in light of the Flint crisis are things we want to prevent. Clean water is essential to life and we must protect it. Preserving our beaches are important to me. It is predicted that electricity produced through coals will be obsolete in less than 50 years. We have to focus on clean renewable energy. Solar is good.

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

Slagh: I believe that Michigan as a state is doing a fair job in trying to address these issues. A better part of the solution is for the local community (churches, families and other community organizations) to come alongside these disadvantaged members of our society. We need to continue to build locally infrastructure that provides ways for each individual to be a part of getting ahead.

Banks: I stand with the Black Lives Matter movement. The killing of Black men, women and children is never acceptable to me. We are human and deserve respect. Racial prejudices, economic/ healthcare disparities, and education inequites in my opinion has to be done away thorough the effort of all of us. Systemic classism and racism has to be abolished by changing our individual mindsets and respecting people. As long as individuals promote supremacy we will continue to have this problem.

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

Slagh: I believe we have individuals with violence problems therefore the answers lie in our mental health efforts.

Banks: Gun violence has a negative effect on our state. From what I’ve read half of the cases reported are from suicide 60% while 38% are homicide cases. In the city of Holland, where I live there has not been as many as the nearby cities of Grand Rapids and Muskegon. Muskegon in summer 2018 and 2019 had record numbers of fatalities and injuries. I support policies of legal registration and the montoring of individuals with extensive criminal records. I also support mental evaluation before permits.

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