GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The election is fewer than two weeks away and as politicians make their final push for your vote, many community groups are working to help you understand where they stand.
Several sponsors joined statewide advocates Thursday evening in Kent County to host a local forum with the focus “vote kids first.”
“It’s a struggle. You lose hours at work to get childcare. When they are sick, you can’t send them to childcare and that’s a struggle for a lot of parents. You have to juggle. ‘Do I keep my child at home, or do I get a point at work?’” explained attendee Melissa Hartley.
The Great Start Collaborative of Kent County, MomsBloom and First Steps Kent partnered with Michigan’s Children and Think Babies Michigan to host this event at the First Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids.
They invited candidates running for Michigan Senate District 29, along with those vying for the 81st, 82nd and 84th Michigan House districts.
Six of the nine candidates attended Thursday’s forum and answered questions from community members about how they plan to improve childcare in west Michigan.
"Race, income and zip code should not determine, like, the resources that our children receive, but, unfortunately, I know that that is not currently true."
"I think our kids' opportunities outside of a traditional education classroom setting is a place where we can kill two birds with one stone, if you will, by providing those childcare hours with really enriching and some very unique opportunities."
"I would have liked to see universal preschool. I think that proved through said third graders. Math and reading goes up 95-percent. I agree with President Biden on that."
"We did appropriate $24.5 million toward before school, after school and summer in-person programming to serve K-through-12 students, so that's an unprecedented amount."
"To make sure that we are welcoming healthy families, we need to work on maternity and paternity leave as a standard for employment and part of a larger, you know, living wage package for our families."
"We definitely support after school and summer programs, not only for kids, but for the elderly."
The invited candidates who could not make it to Thursday's forum were:
- Lynn Afendoulis (R) Candidate for 81st State House District
- Ryan Malinoski (R) Candidate for 82nd State House District
- Mike Milanowski, Jr. (R) Candidate for 84th State House District
Michigan's midterm election is Tuesday, November 8. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.