The Democratic primary race for the 31st District seat in Michigan’s House of Representatives presents Macomb County voters with some familiar faces and one newcomer.
Covering Fraser, Mount Clemens and a portion of Clinton Township, the 31st District has been served for the two terms by Marilyn Lane. After running unopposed by Democrats in 2012, Lane faces two challengers next month: Kathy Blanke and Juliana Goldwater. The winner will square off with Republican Phil Rode in November.
Aside from being the incumbent, Lane, 55, is also familiar to voters in the district from her 2003-07 stint as mayor of Fraser. Lane points voters to several accomplishments from her time as state representative as evidence that she’s worthy of a third term.
“The highlight for me has been getting health coverage for families dealing with autism,” she said. “That was a life-changer.”
Lane also highlighted her work as vice chairwoman of the House committee on transportation, where she worked both sides of the aisle to help pass a spending package she believes would have addressed Michigan’s troubled road system. That effort went nowhere when the Senate failed to pass its own measure.
Kathy Blanke is familiar to many in Fraser. For more than a quarter-century, she was Fraser’s recreation director. She also was a member of the City Council for one term after winning office in 2009; she lost her re-election.
The family name has been a fixture in Fraser for a long time. Blanke’s husband, Joseph Blanke Jr., served as mayor from 1991-99. He died in 2009 of cancer.
Blanke, 66, said her primary interest in running early was to make sure the race was competitive. Lane had originally been unopposed. Now that there are three candidates in the primary, Blanke said she likes the way she stacks up to the competition.
“The more complacent and familiar individuals get with a political position, I think that often turns into self-interest and an attitude of entitlement,” she said.
“And I don’t care for that.”
Blanke is looking to emphasize her history of service. Her primary legislative interests are Michigan’s infrastructure, particularly its roads, jobs and the environment. And she intends to bring to Lansing a sense of cooperation, something she sees as missing from today’s political climate.
“What I bring is traditional values and common sense,” Blanke said. “I’m willing to be part of a team. You can’t be a one-man show.”
The third entry in the 31st House district primary is newcomer Juliana Goldwater of Clinton Township. According to her website, the 25-year-old is a 2012 graduate of Oakland University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in English as well as a certificate to teach secondary education.
Goldwater could not be reached for comment. On her campaign website, she writes she is a teacher at a charter school.
“Throughout my life, I have worked in both the private and public sector in a variety of communities. ...,” she writes. “These experiences have enabled me to truly understand the needs of the members of our district and our state.
“I truly believe that with my immersion in the community, my education and my ingenuity, I am the best candidate for the task at creating and maintaining a successful District 31 and Michigan.”