Meisner seeks to replace Jacobs in
state House as she eyes Senate seat.
JILL DAVIDSON SKLAR
Special to the Jewish News
0 n the surface, Andy Meisner doesn't
appear to have a whole lot in common
with Keith Sanford.
Meisner, 29,- is a Democrat from Oak
Park, running for the state representative seat in the
27th district; Sanford, 33, is a Republican from
Berkley, running for the same position.
Meisner is pro-choice, while Sanford is pro-life.
Meisner wants to change the funding for public
schools; Sanford does not. The differences go on
But where they do share a commonality is that
neither has ever run for public office in the past.
"This has been a learning experience," Meisner said.
In fact, three of the four candidates for state office
in the 27th district and the state Senate's 14th dis-
trict have never run for public office in the past; the
fourth, state representative Gilda Jacobs, has held
other offices, including county commissioner, but
has never run for a position in the state Senate. She
was the first woman elected a Huntington Woods
Jacobs, 53, is vacating her seat in the 27th district
one term shy of term limits to challenge Marc
Wilkins, 43, of Farmington Hills for the Senate seat
in the 14th district. It is a redistricted area that
stretches from Hazel Park to Farmington Hills and
includes Farmington, Southfield, Bingham Farms,
Beverly Hills, Franklin, Royal Oak Township, Oak
Park, Huntington Woods, Ferndale, Lathrup Village
and Pleasant Ridge.
The area used to run more north and south,
including Pontiac, Berkley and Bloomfield Hills,
and was represented previously by Sen. Gary Peters,
a Democrat who could not run due to term limits.
Jacobs, former development director for the
Farmington Hills-based JARC, said the opportunity
to represent a larger area in the Senate was too
appealing to pass up.
"With the way the terms worked out, there was
the opening in the Senate. I still could have gone
another term as representative, but I wouldn't have
the chance again for four years to run for a Senate
seat. I took a calculated risk, to be honest with you,
but it has turned out that it was a really good deci-
sion," she said.
Her campaign platform is led by ideas to reform
healthcare in the state so that it is accessible to
everyone, regardless of age or income. Jacobs, who
provides a pamphlet to seniors regarding different
approaches to participating in drug company pro-
grams that reduce drug cost, would like to see the
state engage in a program to provide universal
healthcare to residents and to begin a program to -
buy medications in bulk to reduce the cost to resi-
"[Michigan Attorney General] Jennifer Granholm
and I are on the same wavelength. We are in a posi-
tion to do bulk buying and bring the cost of the
drugs down," said Jacobs, the first woman to be a
Democratic floor leader in the history of the state
"Healthcare is as much of a right as public educa-
tion," she said. "I am not saying that everyone has
to have a Cadillac approach but they ought to have
This legislative session, Jacobs' anti-terrorism bill
became law, part of a package of bills developed
with Granholm, the Democratic gubernatorial can-
The Jacobs amendment to the state school aid
budget allows funding to follow students, wherever
they choose to study. That means students who
enroll in charter schools, but transfer to public
schools after the annual school head count, bring
their state tax money with them.
As a former educator, Jacobs also would like to see
smaller class sizes in the schools, a move that she
feels would reduce the number of criminals as an
end result. Additionally, she would like to find ways
to enforce pollution laws without damaging govern-
mental relations with businesses and to retard urban
Jacobs is a board member of JARC and the Anti-
Defamation League, and a former board member of
the Jewish. Federation of Metropolitan Detroit
Wilkins, 43, said he -entered the race in the tradi-
tionally Democratic area because there were no
other Republicans running. Identifying himself as a -
moderate Republican, he said that he shares the
concern regarding urban sprawl voiced by Jacobs.
"I would suggest we do this [curb urban sprawl]
by using tax incentives" to build residential units
and businesses in Flint, Pontiac and Detroit where
the necessary infrastructure and roads already exist,
while they do not in the outlying areas."
- Continuing, he said, "these outlying areas don't
have the resources to maintain the infrastructure
either, meaning that the state will have to take over
more and more of the cost."
Wilkins discussed the hot button issue of tinker-
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