Two Democratic candidates for Congress squared off for the final time before voters decide who will win the nomination.

Democrat Elissa Slotkin has worked a career in national security. Her opponent in this coming Tuesday’s primary, Chris Smith, has taught public policy for the past quarter-century at Michigan State University. The two, both hoping to unseat Republican Mike Bishop for 8th District Congress, met in Okemos, Wednesday night, for one last campaign forum in front of approximately 100 attendees.

They took turns sharing opinions on many platform ideas like keeping kids safe at school, income inequality, and immigration. Slotkin said the immigration process in America needs a total overhaul. She called it fundamentally broken, and the fix needs to be comprehensive, and not a nickle-and-dime job. She said she sees immigration as a national security issue, an economic issue, and a moral issue.She said that DACA children need to have a path to citizenship. Smith focused on the harm that separating children from their parents at the border is causing. He said it needs to be treated as one of our foremost crises, and that “History is going to judge us harshly, and we deserve it, for what we’ve done to these kids.”

With Michigan being a large union-state, Smith, when asked, said that Democrats need to step up, whether they hold the House, the Senate, neither, or both. He called for Democrats seeing injustices with unions to get onto the picket lines and into the board rooms to reverse the imbalance of influence that corporations have over their employees. Slotkin said that the unions in Michigan have come under attack, and that it is important to remember what they do for us personally, locally, and nationally, even if you aren’t part of one.

The two shared ideas on helping marginalized communities. Slotkin said, if elected, she would have a staff working within minority communities, so whether she was in Lansing or Washington, she could keep in touch with community happenings and needs. She stressed this “ear to the ground” strategy throughout the night, pledging to hold regular town hall meetings. Smith stressed a strategy of using a research and evidence-based approach to creating public policy. He called for stronger anti-discrimination laws, free community college, and increases in housing and daycare assistance. (MK)