Michigan Senate / Michigan House
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Michelle LaVoy, Michigan State House District 17
Michelle, her husband Bill LaVoy, and their daughters Grace and Carolyn live in Monroe. The daughter of Millie and Bob Degraer, Michelle is a graduate of St. Mary Catholic School, Monroe and St. Mary Academy.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Administration/Political Science from Miami University (OH), Michelle attended the University of Dayton where she earned her Master of Public Administration.
Upon graduating with her Masters, Michelle worked for several years in Human Resources for the Combined Health District of Montgomery County Ohio. She moved to the nonprofit sector, first as Operations Coordinator for the American Cancer Society before moving on as Area Director and later Corporate Relations Manager with the American Heart Association. Michelle worked with the Mercy Foundation, Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, Toledo OH.
Michelle is currently in her third term as Clerk-Treasurer for the City of Monroe. As Clerk-Treasurer she insures that residents have access to their government and fair, efficient elections.
Michelle is involved with the Monroe community through numerous volunteer positions including the Board of the Monroe County United Way, the Monroe Center for Healthy Aging, River Raisin Institute, and the Monroe Family YMCA.
Matt Koleszar, Michigan State House District 20
Matt Koleszar was raised in Walled Lake, where he attended and graduated from Walled Lake Western High School (2000). From an early age, his teachers made an impression on him and he felt a pull into pursuing education.
Upon graduation, he attended Saginaw Valley State University where he pursued his passion and graduated with a Bachelors degree focused on Social Studies at the secondary level.
At this point in Michigan's history, there were more new teachers graduating than there were open positions, so Matt obtained a directory of all public school districts and started applying for jobs beginning in the A's. This strategy worked, and he was employed by the Airport Community School District in neighboring Monroe County by the first day of the following semester.
While working at Airport, he pursued his Masters Degree in English Studies at Eastern Michigan University. He also serves as the President of the Airport Education Association, Middle School Cross Country and Baseball coach, and Quiz Bowl coach.
From his 12 years in public education, he has watched the State Legislature pass bill after bill that harms the way schools are funded, that are degenerative in allowing local districts to negotiate classroom sizes and curriculum, and leave schools vulnerable at a time when they should be thriving. He has worked with parents that are frustrated with the changes, and watched students who once shared the dream of becoming a teacher change majors even before enrolling in college.
He is running for Michigan State Representative because it has become clear that the people in Lansing no longer represent the average, hard-working Michigander, their values, or their struggles and that it is time for everyday citizens to become the government they wish to represent them.
Matt is the son of a single mother who balanced raising him with a full time job as an Operating Room Nurse and an entrepreneurial father who works in automotive supply sales. Matt and his wife, Kim, live in Plymouth Township along with their rescue pets; two cats, Truman and Kennedy, and an English Bulldog named Roosevelt.
Dan O’Neil, Michigan State House District 104
Born and raised in Traverse City, Dan spent summers shaking cherries, swimming in Grand Traverse Bay, and fishing or paddling the Boardman River. He and his wife, Maura Brennan, raised three children while running a small business and being active in the Traverse City community. Dan is an attorney who spent 30 years challenging unequal pay for women and the wrongful termination of employees. He's committed to our community values and preserving northern Michigan's way of life.
Mari Manoogian, Michigan State House District 40
Mari Manoogian was born and raised in Birmingham, Michigan. She attended Birmingham Public Schools and graduated with honors from Seaholm High School.
Mari’s great-grandparents escaped the Armenian Genocide and came to the United States in the early 1920s. Her father’s and mother’s families arrived in Michigan via Ellis Island, and ultimately settled in the Detroit area, due to the promise of jobs and a vibrant Armenian-American community.
Today, Mari’s mom is a small-business owner and vocational rehabilitation counseling expert. Mari’s dad took a job as a cable splicer at Detroit Edison after high school. During his career at Edison he also held various positions with the union. He was elected and served as President of Local 223, the union which represents Detroit Edison’s workers, from 1988 to 1997. He worked in the utility industry for fifty years, and retired in 2016 as Chief of Staff of the Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO.
Education and public service have always been a priority for Mari’s family. Mari graduated from Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University. During her studies, she interned for then-Congressman John D. Dingell, the Council on Foreign Relations, and for Ambassador Samantha Power at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Mari volunteered in global education programs for DC public school students, teaching public speaking and research skills through Model United Nations, and was an active member of the GW College Democrats.
After graduation, Mari worked in the Office of English Language Programs at the U.S. Department of State. While working with foreign and civil service officers, Mari set her sights on a career in public service. She was accepted to complete graduate studies in Global Communication, and again chose the Elliott School of International Affairs at GW. She worked full-time in the Office of eDiplomacy at the department while in enrolled in school full-time. Mari is running for the Democratic nomination to be the 40th District’s state representative to serve the people of her home community. She understands the importance of quality K-12 education, will make affordable higher education a priority, and is keenly aware of the critical need for leadership in the State House representing her community. She is a member of the ACLU, NAACP, Sierra Club, and St. Sarkis Armenian Church in Dearborn.
Angela Witwer, Michigan State House District 71
Angela Witwer was born in the farming village of Buckley, Michigan, outside of Traverse City, and lived on the family farm with her loving parents, George and Marilyn, and three sisters. She graduated from Waverly Community Schools and went on to graduate magna cum laude from Northwood University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Her father passed away when she was 18, leading her to live out her parents’ legacy of giving to others and to the community that has given so much to her and her family.
Angela worked in the health care industry for 22 years until she started her own business. She’s received national recognition and awards, including Entrepreneur of the Year, Michigan Top 50 Companies to Watch, INC magazine Top 500/5000 U.S. company, and the Athena Award for organizational excellence.
She is a community leader who actively serves on many boards including: McLaren Greater Lansing Foundation, Waverly Community Schools Board of Education, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce Economic Club, Michigan Society of Healthcare Planners and Marketers, Volunteers of America Host Committee for Homeless No More, and St. Gerard Catholic Church Evangelization Committee.
Angela has lived in Delta Township for 45 years. She is married to Bruce Witwer, a mother of two grown children, and a grandmother of three granddaughters.
Trump’s 10,000-vote victory in Michigan in 2016 broke a streak of Democratic victories in presidential elections back to 1992.
On the state level, though, Democrats have long ceded power to Republicans. Republicans have controlled the State Senate since 1990, and seen larger gains in recent years. In 2010, Republicans gained 5 seats, controlling the Senate 26 to 11. In 2014, they gained another seat and currently control the Senate 27 to 10. Democrats have only controlled the Michigan State House for 6 of the last 26 years. Republicans currently hold a 63 to 47 majority there. Michigan is a Republican trifecta state, with Republicans controlling the Governorship and both houses of the state legislature. This year, however, there are meaningful opportunities for Democrats to win back power.
To take back the majority, Democrats need to pick up 9 seats in the State Senate, and 9 seats in the State House. This year, Democrats have the opportunity to win back both chambers.
EveryDistrict’s Legislative District Index (LDI) ranks state legislative districts on a scale from 100 to -100, using statewide elections data. Districts with a score of 100 would vote for statewide Democratic candidates by 100 points (with the Democratic candidate receiving 100% of the vote); districts with a score of -100 would vote for statewide Republican candidates by 100 points (with the Republican candidate receiving 100% of the vote).
EveryDistrict divides winnable districts into three categories: Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III. Tier I districts lean Democratic but are held by a Republican state legislator. Tier II districts lean slightly Republican, with a range of 0 up to -5. Tier III districts lean slightly more Republican, with a range of -5 up to -10. For more information about EveryDistrict’s LDI, please click here.
In the State Senate there are 5 seats that lean Democratic (Tier I): Senate Districts 7, 13, 20, 29, and 32. There are another three seats that lean slightly Republican (Tier II): Senate Districts 12, 15, and 34. Then, there are another three Tier III seats: Senate Districts 10, 24, and 38.
Districts 7, 10, 12, 13, and 15 are all in the Detroit area, while the other districts are spread throughout the state. District 20 includes Kalamazoo, District 24 has areas around Lansing, while District 29 centers on Grand Rapids. District 32 includes Saginaw; District 34, Muskegan; and District 38 includes the western Upper Peninsula.
In the State House, there are three seats that lean Democratic (Tier I): House Districts 17, 62, and 71. There is one seat in the Tier II category, House District 99, and 9 seats in the Tier III category: House Districts 24, 39, 40, 56, 61, 66, 85, 91, and 101.
Districts 17, 24, 34, 40, and 56 are all in the Detroit area. District 61 includes Kalamazoo, District 71 has areas west of Lansing, and District 62 includes Battle Creek. District 91 includes Muskegan; District 99 includes Mount Pleasant, home of Central Michigan University; District 85 stretches into Owosso; and Districts 66 and 101 are along different portions of the Lake Michigan coastline.
What’s At Stake
Republican majorities in the legislature have worked to implement a conservative agenda. “Defending the second amendment” was one of the priorities for House Republicans in the 2017-2018 legislative session, and the Republican controlled legislature proposed a range of bills to loosen gun safety laws.
In 2012, the Republican legislature passed a strict voter ID law that would have required a photo ID for absentee voting and required voters to affirm their US citizenship before receiving ballots. Thankfully, Governor Rick Snyder vetoed the legislation.
Michigan Republicans have worked to undermine climate science at every turn. Michigan was one of 24 states to join a lawsuit challenging the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan. Republicans have also proposed eliminating references to climate change in school curriculum and replacing the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s decision-making authority with private-sector-based panels of industry representatives.
EveryDistrict endorses candidates in competitive districts that are committed to moving their communities forward, have strong connections to their districts, and have a campaign strategy in place to win. In Michigan, EveryDistrict has endorsed: Henry Yanez (SD 10), Rosemary Bayer (SD 12), Mallory McMorrow (SD 13), Sean McCann (SD 20), Kelly Rossman-McKinney (SD 24), Winnie Brinks (SD 29), Phil Phelps (SD 32), Poppy Sias-Hernandez (SD 34), Scott Dianda (SD 38), Michelle LaVoy (HD 17), Matt Koleszar (HD 20), Mari Manoogian (HD 40), Angela Witwer (HD 71), and Dan O’Neil (HD 104).