State Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, has served the past four years in his first term in the Michigan Senate representing 10 counties in the northeast part of the Lower Peninsula.
Now, voters from Alcona, Alpena, Arenac, Gladwin, Iosco, Midland, Montmorency, Oscoda, Otsego and Presque Isle counties will decide whether to re-elect Stamas to a second term, or elect challenger Joe Weir, D-Midland, as their new representative in the 36th Senate District race on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
In interviews with the Herald Times, candidates discussed auto insurance rates and evaluated the condition of the state’s infrastructure and job outlook, two notable issues at the forefront of the election.
Auto insurance is “one of the top priorities to change, according to constituents,” Stamas said.
Both candidates agreed the state’s current policy has to change in one way or another.
“How do we lower the price?” Stamas said. “I think it’s one of our next priorities to continue to make Michigan an attractive state to those coming in and investing in keeping people in Michigan.”
Stamas said he has already been in support of changing the policy, evidenced by his voting record.
“I’ve voted at least six times on changing the auto no-fault and supported that change each time,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’ve not gotten that done and haven’t got the Senate approval.”
He also said that the current policy is negatively affecting the senior citizens, as they automatically see a rate increase when they turn 65 years old.
Weir said he’s heard from a lot of constituents who have been impacted by the current policies.
“This is an unsustainable system we have for auto insurance in Michigan and is putting a lot of people in a bind,” Weir said. “It’s a real burden for a lot of people.”
The 36th Senate District is at a disadvantage for auto insurance costs compared to other areas of the state, according to Weir.
“It’s a function of where you live in the state — some places in the state the rates are much higher than others,” he said. “Midland is one of the lower cost areas of the state, whereas parts of the 36th District are higher.”
Weir said his experience working in the private sector gives him an advantage in determining a course of action for improving auto insurance rates.