GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Peter Meijer, grandson of the founder of the grocery chain named after the family, is the Republican nominee for Michigan’s 3rd congressional district.
Boundaries for the district include Cedar Springs to the north, Ionia and Calhoun counties to the east and Barry County in the center, and includes the city of Grand Rapids.
Meijer faces Democrat Hillary Scholten in a race garnering attention across the country.
Environmental issues, police training and economic support make up a large chunk of his legislative plans if elected.
Among the environmental issues Meijer wants to tackle is PFAS, a group of chemicals that has been found in drinking water throughout the state.
“West Michigan deserves clean water and a peace of mind when filling their glasses at the tap,” Meijer said in regard to PFAS. “PFAS has already been exposed to our water systems and the federal government can act to ensure folks are no longer affected by this harmful, carcinogenic chemical family.”
Cleanup of the chemicals, which have been linked to cancer among other diseases, could take years, though the state did pass some of the most stringent rules for drinking water standards in the country back in August.
Meijer also supports the Watershed Health & Wellness Act, which would direct funding from the EPA and the Interior Department to clean up watersheds and create more access to clean water, according to his campaign.
In Grand Rapids, Plaster Creek is a watershed that provides a natural habitat for salmon and the snuffbox mussel, which are “highly endangered” in the region.
“Furthermore, it is a watershed of fresh water that can be utilized to expand access to clean water for everyone,” Meijer said. “The federal government can and should prioritize these watersheds to expand access across the country.”
At about 14 miles long, Plaster Creek is considered one of the most impaired waterways in West Michigan by the time it empties into the Grand River, according to Calvin University.
Demands for changes to policing in the U.S. dominated headlines during Summer 2020 and beyond after a white police officer killed a Black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis in May.
Many have called for equity and for police department funding to be reallocated toward social services programs.
The Grand Rapids Police Department, for example, unveiled the final draft of a three-year strategic plan to “transform policing” by better engaging with the community.
The plan includes action steps that focus on a neighborhood-based policing model that engages the community.
Meijer’s plan focuses on enhancing training for police officers rather than lowering departments’ budgets.
He does acknowledge the need for changes in response to the unrest.
“We saw our nation torn apart this summer by unrest in our cities,” Meijer said. “We need to act.”
Specifics of his plan include re-authorizing funding that enhances police training, de-escalation tactics and more body cameras to build trust between law enforcement and communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit businesses hard during shutdowns imposed to help control the spread of the virus.
The economic downturn resulting from those closures has led some to oppose Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s efforts, including a petition trying to repeal a law that allows the governor to exercise her state of emergency powers.
Others worry that reopening the economy without strict guidelines in place would cause the pandemic to spiral even more out of control.
Meijer wants to find common ground between the two parties.
His plan calls for reopening “our country in a safe manner that favors the utmost health and social distancing necessary while still allowing for sectors of the economy to safely reopen without penalty, so long as businesses and industry alike follow the guidelines set in place by these uncertain times.”
Meijer’s economic plan also includes expanding Opportunity Zones in impoverished and underserved areas.
The zones are supported by the 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act.
“These zones have created opportunities for millions of Americans and have brought a much-needed revitalization to many of our communities,” Meijer said. “A much-needed addition to this reform is adding tax credits to folks who want to move to Opportunity Zones. Creating businesses and a sense of community in these zones only goes so far and the federal government should incentivize folks to move to these communities.”
Rural Broadband Expansion
COVID-19 has also shown the discrepancy between broadband access for urban and rural counties.
“WiFi is imperative to folks’ ability to work, receive a quality education and stay connected in our ever-changing world,” Meijer said.
His plan calls for some of the Federal Communications Commission’s $388 million budget to be redirected toward building out broadband access in rural counties.
Locally, he mentions the plan benefiting Calhoun, Barry and Ionia counties.
Read the campaign's full immediate legislative action and policy plan here.