Women candidates running for seats in the Michigan House of Representatives had the chance to share some of their thoughts on various issues at a forum in Milford.

Indivisible Huron Valley sponsored “A Woman’s Place is in the (State) House” at the Susan Haskew Arts Center Wednesday night. The non-partisan group's event was moderated by State Representative Kristy Pagan of District 21. Female candidates from both parties were invited to participate in the panel discussion; however no Republican candidates were in attendance. Six candidates from neighboring districts weighed in on issues like healthcare, keeping youth in Michigan and funding for infrastructure repairs and schools. Oakland County's candidates included Aditi Bagchi, Kelly Breen, Laura Dodd and Regina Strong.

The Livingston County candidates in attendance were Colleen Turk, who’s running for the state representative seat in the 47th District, and Mona Shand, who’s in the 42nd District race. Shand, whose father is a retired doctor and mother a retired nurse, spoke to what she says is a healthcare crisis in Michigan. Shand believes a state-level, single-payer system is the best way to ensure “affordable and robust” healthcare, but has ideas to better the system in the meantime. Shand says more primary care physicians are needed, as well as preservation of the Healthy Michigan Plan.

When discussing how to keep youth in Michigan, Turk piggy-backed off of Shand’s thoughts on healthcare, saying the lack of affordable healthcare and housing are just a couple of the reasons that contribute to a resident's decision to leave the state. Turk feels improving the public education system by creating opportunities for students will help build a stronger future workforce, therefore drawing "exciting employment" and youth to the state.

Shand and Turk were both asked what can be done to promote a “more progressive agenda in Lansing” and both took a non-partisan approach. Turk feels people from all parties really do want the same thing, it just comes down to communicating with one another in a way that removes party lines. Shand agreed, saying it's become clear that no one side can go it alone. She says residents' support and patience is needed as parties attempt to build partnerships across the aisle.

Sherri Masson of Indivisible Huron Valley says the goal of the event was to draw attention to some of the female candidates running in area districts as they are “part of a larger movement of women getting more involved in politics nationally.” Masson says there is a need for representation for a range of demographics, noting that while women make up over 50% of the population, they account for only 19% of the United States Congress and 23% of the State Legislature. There are 110 seats up for election this year in Michigan’s House of Representatives, with 97 female candidates in the running. (DK)