One of the most hotly contested races for Congress in the country is playing out in Northern Michigan.
Democrat Lon Johnson and Republican Jack Bergman are running to represent Michigan’s 1st Congressional District in Washington DC.
In this special report, 9&10’s David Lyden sat down with both candidates to find out where they stand on the key issues.
“We need a member of Congress that’s willing to invest in our people, and our land, and our Great Lakes,” says Lon Johnson.
Jack Bergman says, “If you’re unsatisfied with what you’re getting in Washington, DC, then send a Marine Corp. general.”
Lon Johnson and Jack Bergman, two candidates battling to represent Michigan’s 1st District in Congress. Bergman the Republican, Johnson the Democrat, each with their own vision.
“Our country has serious challenges. We’re upside down fiscally so we can’t keep doing that. We have national security challenges never before seen in this world,” says Bergman. “The voters believe the economy needs work, the economy needs to grow at a faster rate and actually provide the jobs we so badly need here.”
Johnson says, “We need to bring mobile cell phone service and high speed internet service all across the north, we need to explore returning passenger rail service to Northern Michigan, we need to finally get this new Soo Lock built.”
The 1st District is massive, covering most of Northern Lower Michigan and the entire Upper Peninsula. Issues in this tight race include where the candidates are really from. Each side clams the other truly isn’t from the 1st District. We asked for clarification.
“I’m the fifth generation of my family to live in Kalkaska. I live in Kalkaska County, and from my family I’ve learned Northern Michigan values, you work hard, playing by the rules,” answered Johnson.
Bergman responded, “I made the conscious choice when I could afford to buy property 30 years ago and build a house, but this thing called government service got in the way of my game plan and delayed it 14 years until I was able to hang up my Marine Corp. general uniform and move back to Watersmeet in 2010.”
Another hotly contested issue is Social Security and what changes to make to the system.
“Quit robbing the investment account. If the money goes in, don’t use the money I paid to the government’s Social Security to spend it on other projects, that’s number one. Number two, going forward provide people, the people who paid the money in a level of options that they can choose to control their investment,” says Bergman.
Johnson says, “The answer here is fairness of who’s paying into the system. As of now anybody making over $118,500 no longer pays into a Social Security system. So, what we need to do is lift that cap of $118,500 and make sure those that are receiving the benefit and making over $118,500 continue to pay. We would extend the life of Social Security by 50 years.”
Both have their own ideas of how to grow small business across the 1st District.
“We need to bring high speed internet and mobile phone service to all our communities. We’re massively moving as an economy people can live and work wherever they want, nearly a third of the workforce is working from home or has the ability to. Now, when people can live and work wherever they want they do so where it’s beautiful, and that’s where we compete and win,” Johnson tells us.
Bergman says, “Government is over-regulating. The bureaucratic and regulatory overreach that happens naturally if you don’t control bureaucracies is causing small business to basically lose a significant portion of their profits.”
In one week, voters make the choice.
“The voters want better, and they know with sending a straight talking Marine general to DC they’re going to get better, because it’s not going to be a whole lot of fluff, it’s going to be a whole lot of meat,” says Bergman.
Johnson says, “We have to bring back the trust of government. Our government needs to be every bit as honest and hardworking as the people who pay for it, and that’s us. I’ll work every single day to develop and help create a Northern Michigan where our families can stay here and succeed.”