Kalamazoo County commissioner faces small business owner in 61st House District race

Republican Bronwyn Haltom and Democrat Christine Morse are facing off to represent the 61st District in the Michigan House of Representatives.

Morse is a current Kalamazoo County commissioner representing District 9. She has a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and a law degree from Wayne State University Law School.

“Christine is Michigan native, former attorney, Kalamazoo County Commissioner, public school parent of 3, breast cancer survivor, and spouse of a Navy Veteran,” she said in her responses to the Vote411.org voter guide from the League of Women Voters.

Haltom Attended Kalamazoo Valley Community College and transferred to the University of Michigan, where she earned a bachelor’s degree.

“I was born here, educated here, and own a small business here. I believe in our community and am committed to serving our neighbors to move Michigan forward,” Haltom said in responses to the League of Michigan Voters voter guide.

Haltom defeated Tom Graham in the August primary election. Morse was unopposed in the Democratic primary.

The 61st District contains the city of Portage, Oshtemo, Texas, Prairie Ronde and Schoolcraft townships and the villages of Schoolcraft and Vicksburg in Kalamazoo County. Current GOP state Rep. Brandt Iden is term-limited.

MLive Media Group has again partnered with the League of Women Voters of Michigan Education Fund to provide candidate information and other voting resources to our readers. Each candidate was asked to answer a series of questions about their policy stances.

Information on all state and federal races and many of Michigan’s county and local races will be available at Vote411.org.

Here’s a look how both candidates responded to questions from the League of Women Voters candidate survey:

EDUCATION: 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?

Morse: As a public school graduate and parent, public education funding is my top issue. Teachers are vastly underpaid and class sizes are unreasonably high. In addition to rectifying the disinvestment we’ve seen over the last couple of decades, we are 50th in the country in reading growth. I believe we need to invest seriously in our public education – both through skilled trades programs, retraining, and higher education if we want our kids to be able to build a life here in Michigan. We also need to reevaluate our testing standards and make sure to involve educators in the process of rewriting.

Haltom: Public education is the most important investment the State of Michigan can make in our future, and I support robust education funding that prepares Michigan students for the jobs of tomorrow. The legislature must find long-term solutions to address Michigan’s third grade reading levels that bring together parents, teachers, administrators and students. I support measures to expand opportunities that empower parents and guardians to make decisions that best fit their student’s educational needs. We must also promote and invest in skilled trades and vocational learning as an additional path to

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White House bars FDA commissioner from testifying before committee

The White House blocked FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn from testifying before the Energy and Commerce Committee, Politico reported.

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. and Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Democratic Rep. Anna G. Eshoo said in a statement Friday that “despite bipartisan interest and our request for Commissioner Hahn to appear before the Energy and Commerce Committee this month, the White House has blocked Dr. Hahn from testifying.”

The lawmakers noted the committee’s “concerns about the Trump Administration’s ongoing political interference into the COVID-19 response efforts of our public health agencies,” and stressed that “the American people deserve to hear” from Hahn to “ensure that the agency’s COVID-19 decisions remain science-based.”

Meanwhile, the FDA has recently ousted two Trump appointees at the agency.

In early September, John Wagner, who was appointed by the Trump administration to lead the FDA’s office of external affairs was replaced with Hedii Rebello, who spent over 14 years at the FDA.  This replacement came days after Hahn fired the Trump appointed FDA spokesperson Emily Miller days after she started the job. Miller was reportedly involved with preparing for the FDA’s announcement to issue an emergency authorization for convalescent plasma, which was met with swift backlash from medical experts, for which Hahn apologized.  

A White House spokesperson confirmed to Politico that Hahn was barred from testifying so that
“health officials can keep their time and energy focused on responding to the coronavirus.”

Earlier this month, it was reported that Michael Caputo, the head spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, and his scientific advisor, Dr. Paul Alexadnder, may have successfully delayed CDC reports that conflicted with the president’s political viewpoints, according to Politico. Caputo, a longtime Republican political strategist before being appointed as HHS spokesman in April, is currently taking medical leave. 

 

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Democratic chairman says White House blocked FDA commissioner from testifying

The White House blocked Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn from testifying before the House panel overseeing the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, its Democratic leaders announced Friday.  

“The American people deserve to hear Commissioner Hahn’s response to those concerns during a public hearing and what actions he is taking to ensure that the agency’s COVID-19 decisions remain science-based,” Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg acknowledges failure to take down Kenosha military group despite warnings | Election officials push back against concerns over mail-in voting, drop boxes Democrat asks intel agencies if they’re surveilling members of Congress Overnight Health Care: Supreme Court to hear ObamaCare arguments 1 week after election | NYC positive COVID-19 tests hit record low MORE (D-Calif.), who chairs its health subcommittee, said in a statement. “The White House’s muzzling of the FDA’s top scientist further injures public trust and confidence in FDA.”

Earlier this week Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy also accused the White House of blocking trade advisor Peter Navarro from testifying before their panel.

A White House spokesperson told The Hill Hahn was blocked from testifying because it’s “part of the administration’s existing protocol to make sure health officials can keep their time and energy focused on responding to the coronavirus.”

Hahn has testified before Congress four times since the start of the pandemic, the last time being in late June. Since then, three potential coronavirus vaccines moved to phase three trials, which will determine safety and effectiveness. 

Democrats have been skeptical of the administration’s vaccine efforts, which they say may be overlooking important safety measures in an effort to have results before the November elections. 

“I am often asked about how and when FDA will authorize or approve a vaccine to protect against [coronavirus]. Here is my answer: when the agency’s scientific experts have completed their review and are ready to do so, and not a moment before,” Hahn tweeted Friday. 

Late last month Hahn ousted Trump-appointed spokesperson Emily Miller after 11 days on the job amid the fallout over the agency’s decision to issue an emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 patients.

Michael Caputo, a Trump-appointed Health and Human Services (HHS) communications official, announced Wednesday he was taking medical leave after making “comments that reflected poorly on the office and HHS.”

Hahn is still scheduled to appear before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Tuesday, alongside infectious disease expert Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: CDC reverses controversial testing guidance | Billions more could be needed for vaccine

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White House blocked FDA commissioner from testifying to House panel

Hahn, who is scheduled to testify before a Republican-led Senate panel next week, in recent weeks has worked to reestablish his agency’s independence amid pressure from President Donald Trump to deliver faster on coronavirus vaccines and treatments. Hahn ousted the agency’s top spokesperson, a Trump appointee, after a disastrous rollout of an emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma. He also has repeatedly pledged the FDA will be transparent about how it evaluates Covid-19 vaccine candidates.

“I am often asked about how and when FDA will authorize or approve a vaccine to protect against [Covid-19]. Here is my answer: when the agency’s scientific experts have completed their review and are ready to do so, and not a moment before,” Hahn tweeted Friday.

Background: Hahn appears to be the most recent administration official blocked from testifying before a House panel on the administration’s coronavirus response. The White House earlier this week prevented trade adviser Peter Navarro from testifying before a House Oversight subcommittee about the administration’s use of the Defense Production Act to manufacture ventilators.

What’s next: Hahn is still scheduled to appear at a Senate HELP Committee hearing on Sept. 23 alongside infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, CDC Director Robert Redfield and HHS testing czar Brett Giroir.

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DPH commissioner, other officials have received threats after cancellation of high school football season, House speaker says

The Department of Public Health commissioner and other state officials have received threats over the department’s recommendation that Connecticut high schools refrain from football this fall, Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz said in a Facebook post Saturday.



a group of baseball players standing on top of a field: Coach Joe Aresimowicz, shown directing a Berlin High School football practice in 2018, posted a plea on Facebook to stop threats against state officials over the cancellation of the football season.


© Cloe Poisson / Hartford Courant/Hartford Courant/TNS
Coach Joe Aresimowicz, shown directing a Berlin High School football practice in 2018, posted a plea on Facebook to stop threats against state officials over the cancellation of the football season.

Aresimowicz, who also coaches the Berlin High football team, pleaded for the threats to stop.

“I’ve been made aware that many threats have been sent to the DPH Commissioner and other state officials,” Aresimowicz wrote on his personal page. “Just like many players, coaches and parents, I too am upset about high school football being canceled. I also spoke my piece about how I believe the Commissioner of Public Health got this wrong. Despite our feelings, we cannot tolerate threatening people! What the heck happened to disagreeing and even being mad without this nonsense. Please stop!!!! The kids are looking at us to show them how they should act when they’re adults!”



a group of baseball players standing on top of a grass covered field: Berlin head coach Joe Aresimowicz.


© Brad Horrigan / Hartford Courant/Hartford Courant/TNS
Berlin head coach Joe Aresimowicz.

Glenn Lungarini, executive director of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, similarly asked those angry about the cancellation of fall football to refrain from threats.

“All are entitled to their opinion and emotions, but threatening comments are not acceptable,” Lungarini tweeted. “I am willing to speak with anyone, but will not condone threats to any member of DPH, state officials, or CIAC staff.”

The CIAC announced Friday that it will not sanction full-contact football this fall. In explaining that decision, the CIAC cited DPH’s guidance that the sport was unsafe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Some local superintendents had voiced reluctance to proceed with football without a go-ahead from DPH.

“Without DPH support, the CIAC cannot move forward with a full-contact season as it would place superintendents and boards of education in the impossible position of acting against the recommendation of a state agency,” the CIAC wrote in a statement Friday.

DPH has repeatedly cautioned about the dangers of full-contact football, suggesting a 7-on-7 version instead.

With the cancellation of the fall season, football teams will still able to condition as a team but will not be able to play games. Lungarini said Friday that the CIAC will consider combines, passing leagues and other activities as alternate options for football players in the fall.

Students and coaches have expressed frustration with DPH’s recommendation and the CIAC’s decision, with some students organizing a protest set for Sunday in West Hartford’s Blueback Square.

“There’s a part pare of me that’s angry, there’s a part of me that’s crushed, and there’s a part of me that’s sad,” Stafford/Somers/East Windsor coach Brian Mazzone said Friday. “There’s no way I can go five days with these kids. There’s no way I can keep these kids engaged [without games].”

Representatives from DPH and the governor’s office did not

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