Enrich the World
by David C. Anderson
2016-2017 OCBA President
With Election Day fast approaching, I’d like to turn to local politics. The Michigan Legislature is composed of 148 lawmakers. Obviously, more than half of those lawmakers are lawyers, right? After all, who better to develop, consider and vote on proposed laws than those who were trained in the law? On the contrary, you may recall an article appearing in the Michigan Bar Journal last year reporting that there were only 13 attorneys in the state Legislature. A few months ago, one of those lawyer-legislators, Representative Pete Lucido (R-Shelby Twp.), was kind enough to meet with Terri and I (as well as representatives of the Macomb County Bar Association) to bring to our attention the fact that the number of lawyers in the state Legislature has now fallen to 12. That number is merely 8 percent of the state Legislature. While there are many fine legislators in Lansing, I can’t help but believe that we would be better served by a larger number of lawyers in the state Legislature. The economic realities of terms limits and government salaries likely dissuade many lawyers from serving the public in that capacity. However, it is incumbent on us to lead our communities. Woodrow Wilson made this point better than I ever could. He said,
You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.
If you have the willingness and flexibility to serve our community as a state legislator, I would urge you to do so. Help enrich our communities with the knowledge and wisdom you’ve gained as a practicing lawyer.
Of the 12 lawyers in the state Legislature, three of them are from Oakland County. They are Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills), Kurt Heise (R-Northville), and Klint Kesto (R-Commerce Twp.). On behalf of the OCBA, I congratulate and thank these lawyers for dedicating themselves to public service.
Representative Klint Kesto is a past member of the OCBA and has been active in OCBA events. He is serving his second term in the House of Representatives. He represents the 39th District, which includes Wixom, Commerce Twp., a portion of West Bloomfield Twp. and the Village of Wolverine Lake. He is currently serving as the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and is also a member of the committee on Elections, Health Policy and Regulatory Reform. Representative Kesto was a prosecuting attorney at the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office for more than five years. He also managed his family’s small business, Buscemi’s Pizza and Sub Shop. And he worked for the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Justice. We are proud that Representative Kesto is a member of our bar association.
Representative Tim Greimel, also a past member, is currently serving his second full term in the House of Representatives after being elected in February 2012. He represents the 29th District, which includes Auburn Hills, Keego Harbor, Orchard Lake Village, Pontiac and Sylvan Lake. He was elected to be the leader of the House Democratic Caucus in November 2012 and re-elected as democratic leader in 2015. Representative Greimel seeks to restore funding for education at the K-12 level and beyond, restore tax deductions and credits for middle-class families, bring new and better jobs to Michigan, and replace environmental protections.
Representative Kurt Heise is serving his third term in the state Legislature and represents the 20th District, which comprises the City of Northville, Northville Township, the City of Plymouth, Plymouth Township and eastern Canton. He has nearly 25 years’ experience as a municipal, labor and environmental lawyer. Representative Heise has served as chairman of the Criminal Justice Committee and vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee. He was also co-chair of the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission, which led to the creation of new laws aimed to protect victims and punish those who target young women and vulnerable adults.
Just as many of us didn’t realize that there were only 12 lawyers in the state Legislature, the general public often has very little information regarding candidates for judicial office. For that reason, the bar association has held judicial candidate forums in various Oakland County communities to better inform voters. The bar association hosts these forums in conjunction with the League of Women Voters-Oakland Region and the Detroit Free Press. Each forum consists of two panelists – one from the Oakland County Bar Association and one from the Detroit Free Press – who ask questions of each of the judicial candidates. A representative of the League of Women Voters moderates the forums. Questions are also taken from the audience.
This year, the following forums were conducted so that voters could make more informed choices (the candidates in bold participated in the forum, and the candidates in bold color will be on the ballot for the general election on November 8th).
51st District Court (Waterford)
Todd A. Fox
Mary M. Mara
46th District Court (Southfield)
Hon. Cynthia M. Arvant
Dorothy J. Dean
Kameshia D. Gant
Marc S. Herschfus
Eman H. Jajonie-Daman
Devlin K. Scarber
52-1 District Court (Novi)
Gary D. Klein
Hon. T. David Law
Oakland County Probate Court
Jennifer S. Callaghan
Karen R. Geibel
Oakland County Circuit Court
Lorie N. Savin
Victoria A. Valentine
Best of luck to all of these judicial candidates on Election Day!
One final note – As chair of the Judicial Candidate Forum Committee, U.S. District Court Judge David Lawson, a past OCBA board member, has been instrumental to the success of these forums over the years. This year, U.S. Marine and OCBA Past President Mike Schloff has aided Judge Lawson’s efforts and will take over as chair of the committee for the next election cycle. We are grateful to both Judge Lawson and Mike Schloff for dedicating so much time and energy to these forums for the benefit of the bar association and the public as a whole.