GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- The first Michigan Senate debate was held on Sunday in Grand Rapids between Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow and her Republican opponent John James.
The candidates covered a number of issues, everything from infrastructure, immigration and PFAS in our water. Senator Debbie Stabenow cited her history and experience in office, while Republican candidate John James highlighted his military career and business experience.
The debate opened with questions regarding PFAS in the water system and whether or not the candidates believe there should be federal standards for PFAS in drinking water.
"I’m very concerned that we have the right kind of strategy, that we find this stuff quickly, that we know what the health ramifications are and that we have funding, state and federal to clean it up," said Stabenow.
"We seem to be moving from crisis to crisis in this state and this is yet another crisis facing us," said James. "We have a crisis in Flint with water, we have a crisis with PFAS when it comes to water, I think we need to start looking ahead and start thinking more about 2116 instead of 2016.”
The candidates were then asked about infrastructure in the state.
"The pipes and the sewers and the roads are decades old, why are we just getting around and making this an issue?" said James. "We move from crisis to crisis, we need to put planning in effect and start taking a better look at protecting the American dream and looking forward to the future.”
"We have about a third of the communities in rural Michigan that don’t have any access to high speed internet and that affects our hospitals, education and our businesses and so we’re moving forward on that one and I think that’s an important part of our infrastructure as well," said Stabenow.
A hot-button issue on the national stage: immigration and border security. On Sunday, the candidates were asked if they support the idea of building a wall between the U.S.-Mexico border.
"I personally believe that the best security we can have is our great and strong relationship with our neighbors and our allies,"said James. "I believe that there are some areas where a wall, a fence, or drones patrolling may be the best solution, but I would leave that to the boots on the ground.”
"When we look at what need to do for our borders, I start with talking to the people that are there every day and it’s not only securing borders from people, but its counterfeit parts, the customs operations are very important," said Stabenow.
Both candidates also took some jabs at their opponent: James cited a lack of accomplishment during Senator Stabenow’s years in office, while she pointed out James’ lack of political experience.
"This might be just like the time in 2006 when you were standing right on this stage when you said that our service members would get every single thing that they needed and you would vote to send every single thing that we need in Iraq, but when it came down to it in November of 2007, you voted against emergency funding for troops in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom," said James. "I know, because I was there. This is another promise that you’re making that will break when you get to Washington and it’s been proven by your record of ineffectiveness.”
"These are tough times, you know that, you turn on the tv every single day, and the reality is this is not the moment for inexperience," said Stabenow. "This is the moment for folks that have relationships, that have experience and seniority and a proven track record against all the odds that they can get something done. That’s what I give to you.”
The candidates also answered questions about healthcare, student debt and issues with North Korea, among others. Both candidates will be debating again on Monday afternoon at the Detroit Economic Club.
Election day is November 6.