ESCANABA, Mich. (WJMN) – Following Michigan’s August 2 Primary Election, a five-man race for the 108th District House of Representatives seat has been narrowed down to two. Chris Lopez, a Veteran of the U.S. Army and an Escanaba resident, is the nominee for the Democratic Party.

After enlisting at the age of 21 the year before, Lopez was deployed to Iraq in 2006 as a Human Intelligence Team Leader. He says that after returning to the U.S. at the end of 2007, he was disappointed in political leadership from both sides of the aisle.

Lopez says that many elected officials are too concerned about saving their own seat in government, and as a result aren’t accountable for the things they say in hopes of being elected and re-elected a few years down the line.

“It’s disappointing that we don’t have better role models to go up there and put themselves out there and their ideas,” Lopez said. “And stick to it and be open to change with clear and convincing evidence and new ideas and experiences and information. But we need representatives who don’t care about themselves, like I said, and I’ll say it again. This is not a job for me. It’s a duty position. One-hundred percent, I will not be in Lansing forever, but the time that I’m there I’m going to make sure that Michigan comes out stronger.”

Lopez says his experience as a negotiator in the military will guide his approach to working with other elected officials in Lansing. Lopez stresses that finding common ground that will help the people he serves is most important, even if there are stark disagreements between politicians on either side.

“It’s important to bring all those people together and find out what works best on all sides in every scenario and come up with a consensus that is best for our community and our state, our country and just our species in general to really drive us forward to the next level,” Lopez said. “We are wasting a lot of human experience. We’re wasting a lot of human resources. And there’s a lot of people here, especially here in the UP, that are extremely intelligent. Who can put robots together, who have the capability to open businesses, manage businesses. Who have the capability to invent things, who have the capability to be very productive, and important members of our community. But they lack the proper environment to do so.”

A primary goal Lopez hopes to accomplish is to reduce taxes for UP households in hopes of making cost of living more affordable for those with low and fixed incomes. He says that while he would personally be in favor of eliminating Michigan’s state income tax down the line, the money it generates would need to come from somewhere else. To accomplish this, Lopez believes the answer could come from further developing an industry like energy production in the state.

“We owe it to them even further to make it better. And we need to make sure that we foster the proper environment that our children can grow into and that we can have business owners,” Lopez said. “We can have new industries, we can have microchip manufacturing. We can have all of these tech industries here right here in the UP because we have the talent and we have the labor and we have the workforce willing to learn and fill the gaps. But what we don’t have is the right leaders to foster the proper environment for it.”

Lopez also believes changes should be made to Michigan’s education system. He says that by developing industries at home and more properly preparing kids to enter those fields, they would be more likely to stay in the UP as an adult.

“We need our young kids to grow up with the right emotional skills and intelligence and lessons to grow into proper functioning adults,” Lopez said. “They’re not getting that at home. And we owe it to them and we owe it to ourselves, our society, and our communities to teach that to them at a very young age of how to interact with other kids and disagree. And we need to reform the curriculum to not focus so much on the test. But focus on building young adults with the right skills with the right drive with the right passions and interests.”

Lopez will face off against Republican nominee Dave Prestin in the General Election this November.

To connect with Lopez and hear about future events, you can follow his Facebook page and check out his website.