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Posted on Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 6 a.m.

Rutledge, Olson and Irwin are best choices for state House seats

By Tony Dearing

Change is coming to Lansing. Thanks to term limits, we will have a new governor and a majority of seats in the Legislature will turn over. But will we get cosmetic change, or will voters choose a new crop of lawmakers who are committed to real reform in state government?

For the sake of Michigan, the answer must be the latter. Citizens must look to this election as an opportunity to identify candidates whose track record and grasp of the issues demonstrate that they can steer a broken, bickering, dysfunctional legislative process in a new, more productive direction.



In the state House races for the 54th District, we believe such a candidate exists in David Rutledge. He has strong experience in local government and a history of bipartisan dealings. Both qualities will be essential in the next Legislature, as will a commitment to structural change in state government.

Rutledge, a Democrat, is a former Superior Township supervisor and current member of the Washtenaw Road Commission and Washtenaw Community College board. He’s also served on the state Boundary Commission under both Republican and Democratic governors.

As much as this kind of experience and bipartisanship is needed in Lansing, the greater need is a willingness to embrace real reform that can get the Michigan economy back on track and create jobs. Rutledge has taken strong positions on such thorny issues as school consolidation, tax reform, reducing corrections costs and bringing public employee benefit costs more in line with national averages. This combination of experience and willingness to tackle structural reform in state government makes Rutledge the clear choice over his challengers, Republican Richard Deitering and Independent David Palmer.

In the state House 55th District, Republican Rick Olson earns our endorsement. The semi-retired attorney and business manager has clearly studied the issues facing the state and, like Rutledge, has vowed not to shy away from the difficult decisions that have to be made in Lansing. Democratic challenger Mike Smith, a Bedford school trustee and AFL-CIO community services liaison for the United Way of Monroe County, comes across as sincere but less well-prepared for the challenges of serving in the state House.

In the state House 53rd District, we endorsed Democrat Jeff Irwin in the August primary, and we extend that endorsement of him in the general election, where he faces Republican Chase Ingersoll. In our primary endorsement, we noted that Irwin’s 11 years as a Washtenaw County commissioner has given him direct experience with many of the issues he’d be dealing with in Lansing. We also admire the way he’s rolled up his sleeves over the years and done the kind of hard work behind the scenes that not all politicians are willing to do.

We also plan to endorse in the 52nd District state House race, and will make that endorsement in the coming weeks.

In the race for the state Senate 18th District, we narrowly endorsed Pam Byrnes over Rebekah Warren in the Democratic primary, saying that both have served the area well as state representatives. Primary voters chose Warren, and we have no qualms about endorsing her in the November election over Republican challenger John Hochstetler. Warren has been particularly strong in her work on issues of taxation and the environment, including her efforts on the Great Lakes Compact. Her record and her experience clearly demonstrate that she would serve us well in the Senate.

Michigan is at a critical juncture. Like many citizens, we are frustrated at the way the Legislature has floundered. Our endorsements go to people we think possess a vision for how to move Michigan in a better direction and a willingness to act decisively. Voters should consider the same when they go to the polls.

Editor’s note: The three community members who serve on our Editorial Board - David Mielke, Bob Guenzel and Marsha Chamberlin - did not participate in the endorsement interviews and were not involved in these endorsement decisions.


JR in Ypsi

Sun, Oct 31, 2010 : 12:53 p.m.

Shame on you, for ignoring Independent David Palmer in the 54th District. The same tired politicians are not going to bring about real change in Lansing. Do your job next time, Perhaps actually interviewing candidates will help you make a more informed decision in the future. End the GOP and Democrats dictatorship and vote Independent! Vote for David Palmer!


Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 2:45 p.m.

Who really cares what Ann thinks? It ceased to be a REAL newspaper long ago.


Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 2:44 p.m.

"Thanks to term limits" you say? No educated person in this day and age believes that term limits are a good thing.

free form

Fri, Oct 15, 2010 : 4:42 p.m.

Hmmm... considering the fact that the "Editorial Board" did not take part in this process, these "endorsements" are merely one man's opinion. We are all entitled to our own opinion, but nothing in this article convinces me.


Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 2:29 p.m.

While the endorsements of Irwin and Olson make sense, I am surprised by the endorsement of Mr. Rutledge. David Palmer is by far the superior choice for Democrats in November. Those who wish to see a better future in Michigan need to take a hard look at Mr. Rutledge. In the end, the informed voter will choose Palmer. This endorsement makes me inclined to agree with "Top Cat".

Top Cat

Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 1:37 p.m.

I prefer the Wall Street Journal's approach of never endorsing political candidates.


Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 9:24 a.m.

Ann continues the News tradition of making gullible, shallow endorsements. Whatever happened to critical thinking and investigative journalism? You didnt even bother to call or interview David Palmer, the independent candidate. If you had, you might have found his qualifications far superior, and his proposals well thought out, practical and specific. ( Just because Rutledge has managed to Forrest Gump himself onto just about every political stage, does not mean he has accomplished anything or has experience solving any significant problem. You named nothing he has done, other than to enrich himself for the past 30 years. You list his status as a former Superior Township supervisordid you bother to find out why he left office? Because the citizens of Superior chased him out. He refused to negotiate with the land preservationists in the community, stating that compromise is capitulation. Waitisnt politics the art of compromise? Rutledge nearly bankrupted the Township with a multimillion dollar, pro-developer plan to pave all of Cherry Hill Road to the Wayne County line. Did you ask constituents of all those Boards and Commissions he has been on, just what he has done? Washtenaw Community College students can tell you plenty. Rutledge loves to spend other peoples money on empire-building projects, while the academic programs at WCC starve for equipment and full time faculty. Any politician who has to tell voters to "Trust" him, should be inherently suspect. In the race for State Rep. District 54, the only candidate to really trust is the independent, David Palmer.

Rodney Nanney

Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 8:35 a.m.

Congratulations,, for having the courage to endorse a conservative candidate for public office! Rick Olson will be an excellent addition to the Michigan House of Representatives, and I have no doubt that he will quickly find opportunities to lead the House in the direction of fiscal sanity.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 4:03 p.m.

Rick Olson is a poor choice. The last thing we need is another 'do nothing', block everything' Republican in Lansing. Take a hard look at Olson and ask him if he believes in evolution (I asked and never got an answer) and will use both taxes and expense cuts to balance a budget. Again, I asked and never received an answer. When the only tool you choose is a hammer then everything becomes a nail. Not a good way to try to repair a house -- or our state government.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 2:24 p.m.

David Rutledge's campaign is being financed by a corporation in Sarasota, FL. Does that bother you? This is a matter of public record. Check it out:

Rick Olson

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 8:53 a.m.

Thanks. I appreciate the vote of confidence. I am under no illusions that our task in Lansing will be easy. The current legislature did us no favors by kicking ahead the state's budget problems into next year, with a $1.6 billion deficit staring us in the face for the next fiscal year when we arrive in Lansing in January. I will use my financial, business, legal and legislative support experience to the best of my ability to represent the people of the district.