My name is Mark Zacharda and I’m a farmer running to serve you in Lansing as your State Representative for the 71st House District. In the wake of Tuesday’s Primary, I was prompted to write, partially in response to a letter that appeared locally titled “Politics and civil servants.” I agree with the author on some points and disagree with others, but I want to focus on what we agree on.
It is hard to find people to run for elected office these days. Why would someone want to sign up for all the trouble a life in politics can cause? Why would they want to “enter the quagmire?” For me, I view running for office as a patriotic duty that I wish more of my fellow citizens would take up. I will bear the burden because the reward, that of helping my fellow neighbors and citizens through good government, is more than worth it.
The writer says that many politicians promise the moon, but do little for the people when they get elected. This may be true in some cases, but then how can we change that? By electing people who know what it means to be a civil servant. That is what I will be. I do not care about the salary. I do not care about notoriety whatsoever. I want to work to benefit the people who live here and I want my daughters and (God willing) my grandchildren to be able to point to my life and say that “…it wasn’t easy, but he stood up for the people, for democracy and for what was right.”
With the corruption we see in government, especially at the county level (the attempt in Shiawassee to funnel federal dollars into local politican’s pockets), it’s easy to be cynical about government. I’m sure you hear it all the time, cynicism sounds like this: “my vote doesn’t matter, why bother?” “All politicians are corrupt.” “The government can’t do anything right.”
When citizens think they are wasting their time participating in the political process, the good ol’ boy network rubs their hands together. That’s exactly what they want. There will be no accountability for them – they can act with impunity, do favors for friends, line their own pockets, whatever they want. This has been happening since the beginning of politics, before the founding of our great nation. However, it’s particularly bad in America today where we have pitifully low voter participation.
You can take a step toward a better government that serves all residents, not just those who happen to be the friends or family of those in power, those who are rich, powerful and/or those who identify with the same political tribalism.
The author says that after being elected, most politicians become “all about money and power.” I believe the biggest problem this country faces is money in politics. The current system makes it easier for those who are wealthy themselves (or who have a wealthy family) and/or those who already hold office to remain.
Neither myself or my family are wealthy. My average campaign donation stands at $45. I have applied for endorsements from numerous organizations, some of which have (or will) contribute (fairly modest amounts, mind you) to my campaign. I do not have any dark money super PACs sweeping in to give me five-figure lump sums. In my endorsement applications there is a line we use often: “I’d be happy to vote for legislation that your organization supports if it is in the best interest of the Citizens of the 71st House District.” I realize that I may not get some endorsements because I don’t answer every question in the way they would like and that’s fine. That’s because this campaign is one of principle and integrity. I’m not going to vote for the legislation some corporation supports because their PAC gave me some money. That may make them mad. That may result in them funding an opponent of mine in a future election. The same goes for political party. Being a moderate Democrat from a rural area, I may take some votes that the party leadership may not like. So be it. If I do it enough, they may even find a primary challenger to run against me in a future election. No problem. I’m not running to have a long career in politics. I’m running because I believe in the idea of America and I see a broken system that will take the right people in government to fix. A state representative is a small fish in the grand scheme, but I believe that for a tide to shift, the direction of every fish can make a difference.
Candidate for the 71st House District State House of Representatives