My family and I trace our Allegan County & Saugatuck
roots back to the 1920's. As a young man, my
grandfather passed through Saugatuck on his way to
Canada while playing semi-pro baseball. The beauty
and grace of the lakes, rivers and hills of west
Michigan made such a great impression on my
grandfather that he brought his bride for their
honeymoon in 1933. Our family has had a foothold in
Allegan County ever since. Grandma and Grandpa had
seven children and twenty-seven grandchildren, and
many of us have settled here and considered ourselves
very blessed to be able to live in the heartland.
Long before I could drive a car, I was canoeing and fishing the Kalamazoo River. My brothers, sister, cousins and I grew up enjoying the beach & Mt. Baldhead as our playground - just as our parents had. My family still enjoys the beauty of our natural resources today, and I love living in a small Midwestern town where I can run into extended family at St. Peter's church in Douglas, Demond's grocery store, the post office or a high school football game. I think small towns in places like Allegan County remind us what is right about America during challenging times.
I understand challenging times. Five days a week, I see the effects a tough Michigan economy has on struggling families. I teach at-risk students. This means that some of my kids are addicts; some are pregnant; some have babies. Some of my students have been to jail, juvenile detention, and others have lived in homeless shelters. Many of my students have ADHD, and many come from broken families. Nearly 80% of my students come from single parent families. Most of the kids in our building are on free and reduced lunch. A lot of alternative high school students have been bounced from different buildings and districts to the point that in many cases, they slip through the cracks in the system. Although I love it, my job is very challenging. My students have taught me a lot about life. The continual lesson is how very blessed I am to have a wonderful, supportive and loving family. Dealing with kids who have experienced so much in their young lives also has me drawing on my faith in God. In teaching at-risk students, I am on the front lines of the war on poverty, the culture war, No Child Left Behind, the state budget crunch, and the frustration those who are disadvantaged feel in a state with a terrible economy and little opportunity. Liberals claim that "we have programs to help the disadvantaged." After eight years of working day to day with some of those who are trapped in poverty, I can adamantly tell people that nothing helps the poor and disadvantaged like a strong economy.
I further understand quite well the struggles of those looking for work. During summers when I have not been taking graduate classes, I took on summer jobs that were hard work and available to those in Allegan County who lack higher education. I worked corn detasseling, loading UPS trucks, and on beverage delivery trucks. Each job was physically hard with early mornings and long days being the norm. However, they helped me appreciate my education and relate to those performing manual labor every day.
When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my family. I play hockey for Wally's Whalers- a Saugatuck based ice hockey team.
I also coach soccer. I formerly coached at Otsego High School in Allegan.
I am active in Right to Life activities. I support our military and veterans. I have organized groups to send packages and cards to our troops and have strongly lobbied for more scholarships for Allegan County veterans, service members and their families. We enjoyed boating, the beach and sports together.
I have a master's degree in education from Grand Valley State University. I belong to and believe in:
- Right to Life of Michigan
- St. Peter's Church
- The National Rifle Association
- The Michigan Sheriff's Association
- The Allegan County Farm Bureau
- North Allegan County Right to Life
- The Michigan Republican Party
- Allegan County GOP Executive Committee
- Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society
- Saugatuck Historical Society
- The Coalition to Ax the Tax
- The Club for Growth
- Fennville Rod & Gun Club
- Holland Young Professionals
I would consider it an honor and privilege to serve as
State Representative for Allegan County and the 88th