by Elizabeth Wehman, editor
THE SHIAWASSEE LINCOLN DAY DINNER was held at the Comstock Inn in Owosso on Thursday, Feb. 23. Keynote speaker was Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, shown, introduced by his friend and colleague State Representative Ben Frederick. Frederick commented to those in attendance, “We will stand for family values and look out for the most vulnerable.” Leonard started his address by complimenting Frederick, “You can’t get anyone more solid than Ben Frederick.”
At the end of the evening, several of the Shiawassee County Republicans posed for a photo. (Independent Photo/Elizabeth Wehman)
“We want to fight for conservative values, pro-life, and religious liberty,” announced Speaker of the House Tom Leonard at the Annual Lincoln Day Dinner on Thursday, Feb. 23. Leonard was the keynote address speaker at the event and introduced by his friend and colleague State Representative Ben Frederick. Leonard added, “It is an honor and a blessing to stand before you today.”
Rep. Leonard was first elected to serve the 93rd District in the Michigan House of Representatives in Nov. of 2012. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and his Juris Doctorate from Michigan State University’s College of Law and was the graduating class president. He received the Ralph M. Freeman Scholarship which is annually awarded to a student who most exemplifies the Rules of Professional Conduct by treating others with courtesy and respect.
Rep. Leonard also served as an Assistant Attorney General, and as a prosecutor for Genesee County, where he prosecuted some of Michigan’s most dangerous criminals while assigned to the Special Crimes Division in Flint. In 2014, Rep. Leonard was elected by his colleagues to serve as the Speaker Pro Tempore which is second in line behind the Speaker of the House, and also chairs the House Insurance Committee. In November of 2016, Rep. Leonard was selected as Speaker of the House by his colleagues for the 2017-18 term.
“In the next two years,” Rep. Leonard commented to the Republican audience, “we want to accomplish a bold plan.” He added that this is the first conservative house in a generation. Part of his plan is to put high priority on mental health issues in the state. “We are making better strides for mental health in regards to criminals. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also results in huge budgetary savings.” The second half of Republican’s bold plan is in regards to skilled trades. “Skilled trades have been squeezed out and instead we have been sending our students to college,” he commented. He added that some students do better in a skilled trade than sending them off to college to gather enormous debt they would never be able to pay off. Leonard says he hopes to give more control back to the schools. He also commented that Republicans are eager to repeal and replace common core and ensure control back to local schools.
Other items addressed included transparency in regards to staffer’s income posted online and updated regularly. He wanted the FOIA package to be open and transparent to keep legislators accountable to the taxpaying voters. Leonard also wants to strive to get income tax relief for middle class families and to roll the income tax back from its current 4.35 to 3.9 percent.
Rep. Leonard concluded his speech by adding special thanks to the voters in Shiawassee County, “Thank you, keep up the good work.”
A moment of silence was conducted at the event in memory of local Republicans who have recently passed away in Shiawassee County including Carl Rossman, Joe Teich, and Glenn Williams. Brian Nordbeck, Treasurer of the Shiawassee County Republican Party led the Pledge of Allegiance and Mary Plowman sang the National Anthem.