Before you vote, get to know your candidates

Election

UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) — Election day is almost here and there are many familiar faces on the ballot, but also there are some you may not know.

There is one United States Senate, one United States House of Representatives, along with 4 Michigan state Congressional District seats up for grabs.

Michigan’s 1st Congressional District
United States Senate

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U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D)

Senator Gary Peters (D)

Senator Gary Peters was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008 and has represented the State of Michigan in the U.S. Senate since 2015.

Senator Peters has focused on uniting Michigan communities to continue supporting job creation and economic growth and by fighting for a stronger economy, good-paying jobs, quality and affordable health care, a secure retirement and a fair chance for everyone to succeed.

In the 116th Congress, Senator Peters serves as Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. He also serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and the Joint Economic Committee.

Senator Peters volunteered for the U.S. Navy Reserve at age 34, where he earned a Seabee Combat Warfare Specialist designation and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. After the September 11th terrorist attacks on our country, he volunteered again for drilling status. He also earned a diploma from the College of Naval Command and Staff, U.S. Naval War College.

Senator Peters has worked with members of both parties to find commonsense, practical and bipartisan solutions to challenges facing Michigan and our nation, including:

  • Increasing protections for the Great Lakes and securing historic funding for restoration efforts
  • Supporting veterans suffering from PTSD or TBI
  • Expanding career and technical education and apprenticeships for workers
  • Increasing our nation’s security at our borders
John James
John James (R)

John James (R)

At 17-years-old, John James made the decision to serve his country. After graduating from West Point in 2004, he became a Ranger-qualified aviation officer. John went on to serve with distinction in Operation Iraqi Freedom where he earned a Combat Action Badge (CAB) and two Air Medals while logging 753.7 flight hours in theater leading two Apache platoons.

While James was serving in Iraq, the recession was hitting Michigan hard and Detroit harder.  He looked at his hometown area and there were parts of Michigan that looked worse than war-torn Baghdad.  So, James came home to serve in a different way, as a job provider.

After 8 years of service to the nation, John James was honorably discharged and returned to Michigan to work in the family business: James Group International. As President, James grew the company into a major trading partner with Michigan’s auto industry. 

He also served on Governor Rick Snyder’s mobility council and Veterans Trust Committee, and Detroit Mayor Duggan’s Workforce Development Council. 


United States House of Representatives

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U.S. Representative Jack Bergman (R)

Representative Jack Bergman (R)

U.S. Representative Jack Bergman, through hard work, he made his way to the rank of Lt. General in the United States Marine Corps, successfully owned and operated a small business, and a 22-year career as a commercial airline pilot.

The Bergman family roots in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula stretch back to the late 1800’s where his ancestors worked as iron miners. Serving his country in uniform for 40 years, Bergman spent time all around the United States – and world.

Jack is a grandfather to 8 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. This has always been one of the largest factors in his service in Congress. When Bergman sees what’s happening in Washington, he knows that we are not doing our best at leaving our children and grandchildren a better place.

He believes what most Michiganders believe: Americans know how to live their lives better than politicians or bureaucrats do.

Bergman has dedicated his life to service and defending the Constitution. He is the highest ranking combat Veteran to have ever served in the U.S. House.

Dana Ferguson (D)

Dana Ferguson (D)

A third generation Yooper, Dana Ferguson has spent his life surrounded by the values and culture of the 1st District.

“Being a Representative is about knowing your constituents. It’s about understanding what they go through on a daily basis,” said Ferguson.

“It’s about knowing their struggles, knowing what’s important to them and knowing the challenges they face. If you don’t know who you represent, how can you represent them? I know the people of the 1st District. I am one of them, and have been my whole life.”​

Having grown up in Negaunee to a working family, he is versed in the life and values of the people of Northern Michigan and the U.P. It’s where he learned his work ethic, his love of nature, and his respect and appreciation for a simple life.

“My struggles have made me who I am today. They have made me stronger, smarter, and more in tune with those I seek to represent,” said Ferguson.

“I know all about the struggles of being a young parent trying to work your way through school. I am all too familiar with struggling to make ends meet while trying desperately to get ahead. I have held tight on the bumpy road of life through the highs and lows. My story is the story of so many living in the 1st District.”

Linda O’Dell (D)

Linda O’Dell (D)

Born into a conservative family, Linda credits nightly discussions around the dinner table with instilling some of her first values about fairness and fighting for what you believe in.

“My parents didn’t believe girls should participate in sports, but I pushed back, and I got my chances at running football plays in the yard or covering first base. At dinner, we’d talk about the importance of playing by the rules, because that’s how you keep everyone safe and the game fair.”

Linda was the only woman in her top-rated college finance program, and the dismissiveness and taunts she received only increased her determination to forge her own path as a research analyst and trader.

“It prepared me for Wall Street. There weren’t many women there either, but I held my own. By the time I came into work at 7 am, I had read the day’s New York Times and Wall Street Journal cover-to-cover. In our world, anything that was going on could affect prices and stocks.”


Michigan’s State Congressional Races

107th Congressional District
Chippewa, Emmet, & Mackinac Counties

Jim Page (D)

Jim Page (D)

Jim Page is a lifelong Michigander and longtime resident of the Sault St. Marie community. He cares deeply about our nation, and especially our Northern Michigan communities.

Page wants to go to Lansing to make sure the residents of the 107th District are well represented and taken care of.

After 25 years of working in Michigan’s public education system, Page retired from Sault Area Public Schools, where he was a Math and Computer teacher.

He knows how education works, and that is why Page wants to go to Lansing to make sure our schools have what they need to prepare our students to succeed at the best jobs of the future – increased funding. And as a retiree, he knows how hard the retirement tax has hit Michigan seniors.

As a legislator, Page will work hard to have the new tax repealed.

Kurt Perron (D)

Kurt Perron (D)

Kurt Perron is a seventh generation resident of the 107th District.

Perron has over 20 years experience in public service, with 6 years on the Chippewa County Economic Development Board, 5 Years on the Brimley Area School Board, and with 3 years as the elected  School Board President.

Perron served in the United States Navy briefly until he was injured and Honorably Discharged.

Perron has been raising his family and has been working as a police officer here in Michigan’s 107th  District.

He has direct experience and education in the areas of economic development, job creation, public education, law, and public safety that will be vital to help rebuild Michigan’s 107th District.

Tana Baldwin (R)

Tana Baldwin (R)

Tana Baldwin has always lived in the 107th district, long before there was a State of Michigan. She is a Anishinaabe.

Recently, Baldwin has been active in working to preserve the history of her area while serving on the Emmet County Historical Commission. Her group of communities share unique needs and common interests.

Baldwin was raised by entrepreneurs, running small businesses in Northern Michigan. It is here where she learned my strong work ethic and leadership skills. Her family and connections span the 107th district.

“Sometimes it is hard to be the only one in the room willing to lead, but I have always risen to the challenge,” said Baldwin.

“From leading and establishing student organizations in college to taking on leadership roles at work and in community organizations, I have been leading for most of my life.”

John Damosse (R)

John Damoose (R)

A lifelong Republican, John Damoose’s views have solidified over the years.

For nearly 25 years, Damoose has worked closely as an associate with the organization that runs the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC – attended yearly by every President since Eisenhower.

In recent years, Damoose has served as the Executive Director of Building America’s Tomorrow – an organization funded by General Motors that launched a series of initiatives dedicated to rebuilding America’s manufacturing workforce and encouraging Career and Technical Education programs

The Damoose’s are committed Christian believers whose top priorities in this life are to pour themselves into raising their children and help restore American society and the solid principles upon which we were founded.

Sue Fisher (R)

Sue Fisher (R)

Tuscarora Township Clerk, Sue Fisher, is a Republican candidate for State Representative in the 107th District.

As Clerk, Sue has managed the grants and funding for the many infrastructure projects and enhancements completed in Tuscarora Township since 2008, including a deep-water boat launch, sewer, fishing pier, multiple road paving projects, and several recreational enhancements to the township parks.

Terry Lamb (R)

Terry Lamb (R)

Terry Lamb worked over 25 years in the automotive industry, starting in auto parts stores and then the service department of an Oldsmobile dealership.

After that, he moved on to EDS – Electronic Data Systems, the company started by H. Ross Perot. He worked there for over 16 years in various capacities helping companies across the Midwest.

Lamb took his organizational skills next to Ducks Unlimited as Recruiting Coordinator, then as a Regional Director covering SE Michigan.

Topics that are important to Terry Lamb are as followed:

  • Stop the state from chipping away at our 2nd Amendment right.
  • Jobs. We have to create an atmosphere that allows businesses to thrive and easily hire.
  • Halting socialism. It’s not the answer Michigan needs, and we have to roll back its advance at every opportunity.
David Laughbaum (R)

David Laughbaum (R)

David Laughbaum fits the very definition of the American work ethic. He enjoys everyday on his cattle farm which helps put food on people’s tables.

As a member of the Emmet Planning and Zoning Commission, Laughbaum is helping create vibrant communities. And as a member of the Sanitary Appeals Board, he is working hard to support landowners.

Farming was always his first love, but he wanted to care for others in a personal way. So Laughbaum joined the American Red Cross and served as Mobile Unit Assistant.

A lifelong learner, Laughbaum went on to pursue a passion as a licensed builder. An entrepreneur at heart, he is now a commercial and independent truck driver.

These diverse experiences help Laughbaum to understand the needs of people in many walks of life.

Damon Lieurance (R)

Damon Lieurance (R)

Damon Lieurance and his brother grew up in several states, the sons of Salvation Army Officers.

Lieurance enjoys the challenges of business ownership in Northern Michigan while volunteering his time with local nonprofit organizations.

A lifelong outdoor enthusiast, he has volunteered for the Friends of the NRA, the Lake Superior State University chapter of Ducks Unlimited, and is active in his local Boy Scout Troop with his sons.

As the president of the Chippewa County Shooting Association for 16 years, he volunteers his time as an instructor for Michigan’s Hunter Safety program as well as being a Concealed Pistol License instructor.

A staunch gun rights proponent, he served on the county gun board for 8 years and is the county organizer for the Michigan’s Second Amendment Sanctuary county movement in Mackinac, Chippewa and Luce Counties.

Kathy Twardy (R)

Now more than ever, Kathy Twardy believes we need experienced leadership representing us in Lansing.

Twardy has owned a business in the Upper Peninsula for over 10 years, and she’s been an elected commissioner in Sault Sainte Marie for 7 years.

During the next legislature, Twardy believes the state will immediately have to address the $6.2B shortfall facing our state budget and everything else that might be coming from the continuing COVID-19 crisis.

She believes society has become too accustomed to letting our government take care of everything. Now, in these uncertain times, she wants us to stick to our principles, scale back to essential services, and take care of the first things, first.

“Now is the time to choose a Representative who has experience in making those hard choices at the local level, when it often means knowing the name and the face of someone who can’t afford to have their taxes raised,” said Twardy.

“Now is the time to send a business leader who has held together two businesses through all of our economic storms; now is the time to keep common sense in Lansing when, sadly, that seems to be in short supply.


108th Congressional District
Delta, Dickinson, & Menominee Counties

Beau LaFave (R)

Beau LaFave (R)

State Representative Beau LaFave was first elected in November 2016 to the Michigan House to represent the people of Delta, Dickinson and Menominee counties.

LaFave serves as the chairman of the Military, Veterans & Homeland Security committee and vice chairman of the Judiciary committee. He also serves on the Insurance, Oversight, Agriculture, and Reducing Car Insurance Rates committees.

Beau has decided to temporarily put his law degree on hold to serve the people of the Upper Peninsula.

A lifelong resident of Dickinson County in the 108th District, LaFave lives in Iron Mountain.

Renee Richer (D)

Renee Richer (D)

Renee Richer’s family has farmed in Gladstone for 5 generations. As a state representative for Delta, Dickinson, and Menominee Counties, she plans to strive to represent the people of the U.P. with the values she has learned here: hard work, integrity, and community.

In these polarized times, Richer believes we may not agree with our family and neighbors on every issue, but we still listen with and treat each other with respect.

  • Protecting Our Water & Our Health
  • Tax Fairness for Families & Seniors
  • Healthcare that’s Close & Affordable
  • Education for Every Talent & Career
  • Fairness & Transparency In Lansing

“Lansing needs to do the same and get things done for us,” said Richer.


109th Congressional District
Alger, Luce, Marquette, and Schoolcraft Counties.

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Sara Cambensy (D)

Sara Cambensy (D)

State Rep. Sara Cambensy is serving her second full term representing the 109th House District, which comprises Alger, Luce and Schoolcraft counties and part of Marquette County.

Rep. Cambensy previously served on the Agriculture, Local Government, and Natural Resources Committees.

Before serving in the Legislature, Rep. Cambensy worked for Marquette Public Schools as the Director of Adult Education, in addition to serving as a Marquette city commissioner from 2012 to 2017.

Melody Wagner (R)

Meoldy Wagner (R)

Melody Wagner, resident of Gwinn/Sawyer is running for the Michigan House of Representatives, District 109.

With professional experience in both law enforcement and farming, Wagner seeks to rein in government powers and restore common sense legislation in the district.

Wagner believes we need ‘We the People’ first and government second, modern programs to improve ineffective and outdated governing, and ‘Sunshine Laws’ for government transparency.

Melody Wagner seeks to improve consumer protections in housing markets and to expand badly needed mental health services for Michigan residents.

“Proven intervention programs between county sheriffs, state departments, schools, and churches will provide coping skills and awareness to end the stigma of mental illness and promote healthy living in the Upper Peninsula,” said Wagner.

Matthew Goss (R)

Matthew Goss (R)

As a decorated United States Army Veteran, Matthew Goss has served in numerous roles throughout the armed forces and around the world.

He received an extensive military and para military education, including training at the US Army Military Police Academy located at Ft. McClellan, AL, Department of Corrections, Naval Police Academy, and Department of Defense Academy.

Matt served his country as a Military Police officer during operations Desert Spring, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. While serving in the Middle East he worked as a Private Security Specialist for numerous US Ambassadors and dignitaries to Iraq, and augmented security details to the President, and Vice President of the United States of America.

After being honorably discharged from the US Army, Matt continued his education in Building Technologies and Construction Management at Northern Michigan University.


110th Congressional District
Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Iron, Keweenaw, & Ontonagon Counties

Gregory Markkanen (R)

Gregory Markkanen (R)

State Rep. Gregory Markkanen was first elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in November 2018.

Markkanen serves as vice chairman of the Insurance committee. He also serves on the Military, Veterans & Homeland security committee, Energy committee and the Education committee.

Markkanen served as a medical Corpsman with the 82nd Airborne Division in the Airborne Infantry Platoon and spent additional time as a Medic with the 107th Engineer Battalion of the Michigan Army National Guard.

He teaches high school civics, history and geography for Baraga Area Schools and served on the Hancock City Council as the Ward II representative.

Markkanen is also a board member with the Michigan Center for Civic Education and he’s an Endowed Life Member of the National Rifle Association.

Lawrence Dale (D)

Lawrence Dale (D)

“I am running because this is a critical time in our nation’s history. The policies of the Trump Administration are endangering our democracy and the principals upon which our country was found,” said Dale.

“We must defeat the Trump Administration and its corruption at the polls in this special election and again in November and restore the strength of our democratic institutions.”

Janet Metsa (D)

Janet Metsa (D)

Janet Metsa was born in Houghton County, and was raised on the farm her grandparents established during the Finnish migration in the early 1900s with her 4 sisters and 1 brother.

Her parents operated a dairy farm in Chassell Township for over 50 years on the properties inherited from both sets of grandparents.

While at the EPA Janet became an expert in public policy and developed a talent for explaining complex issues to a diverse audience. She networked with engineers, scientists, lawyers, environmental and industry interest groups, State regulators and other Federal Agency staff while developing regulations to protect air quality in National Parks and Wilderness areas.

Upon returning to the Copper Country, she used her technical expertise to build a successful consulting practice specializing in air and water quality issues. Her clients include the EPA, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), the American Chemistry Council (ACC), private companies, the US Army, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

“As a business entrepreneur and former KEDA Board member, Janet has been an important force in building the Western UP economy,” said Philip Musser, former KEDA Executive Director and Smartzone Chairperson.

“Janet not only started her own business but was also a key person on the KEDA board in designing and carrying out an aggressive economic development strategy for the Western UP at a time when businesses had closed and jobs had been lost. This is again a critical time when the Western UP needs to continue to reinvent its economy to create family sustaining jobs as it emerges from the pandemic. The Western UP region needs economic savvy leaders like Janet.”

Casey VerBerkmoes (D)

Casey VerBerkmoes (D)

WJMN Local 3 does not have any information on this candidate.

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