Q&A With The Candidate
Following is a Q & A with Matt de Heus based around the vetting questions asked by the Green Party of Michigan.
Q: Why the Green Party and not one of the “major” political parties?
I joined the Green Party in February of this year. My concern for the current condition of our region and the diminishing prospects of people within my circle of friends and acquaintances led me to politics. Disenchantment with the “status quo” parties and investigation of alternative options led me to the Green Party. I found immediate empathy with the messages contained in the Four Pillars and The Ten Values.
Q: What political activities and organizations (parties) have you been involved with recently?
I have served as the Chairman of the Bay County Green Party since March of this year, with most of my activities devoted to party building. In the past I have been a member of the Democratic Party and an Election Day volunteer. I also write regular features for The Review, a local political and entertainment newspaper.
Q: Have you run for office before?
This is my first time seeking an elected office.
Q: Most candidates come up with some sort of “campaign biography”, from a few sentences to a few paragraphs explaining briefly who the candidate is. What’s your short bio?
Over the course of two decades, I have built a solid track record of success in both the private and public sectors. This broad experience, developed in both domestic and international marketplaces, spans such functional areas as manufacturing operations, marketing, strategic planning, environmental engineering and new technology development. My efforts have been rewarded in large part by the creation of hundreds jobs.
Prior to leaving industry in 2005, I served in a variety of executive level positions within, primarily within the Burmah Castrol Group. I have also enjoyed success as an independent management consultant, advising small to medium sized businesses on strategy, new product development, industrial marketing and M&A integration. I have operated several small businesses, including Zovida, a firm which developed and marketed wound care products to the large animal veterinary market. Since 2006 I have been employed as an instructor with the nationally recognized program in Process Technology at Delta College (University Center, MI).
I hold a BS in Chemical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and an MS in Manufacturing Technology from Eastern Michigan University. I am married with a blended family of five children. In addition to my work at Delta, I serve on the board of two non-profits and I have spent the last six years as a youth basketball coach in the Essexville-Hampton Community League.
What do you believe are the most significant campaign issues in your area.
I would like to focus my campaign on four critical areas:
Energy – Sustainable, cost effective, clean and safe. This includes the full range of associated issues – from capacity management and distribution of industrial and residential power supplies to novel applications for portable storage technologies to power consumer electronics and transportation. We must break our dependence on fossil fuel and begin to move away from the “combustion economy” as a matter of ecological stewardship of the planet.
Employment – Michigan needs a renewed focus on job creation. Early successes of “green manufacturing” firms in the Saginaw Valley has been welcome news. I have been part of this rebirth as an instructor in the process technology program at Delta College. While manufacturing is near and dear to my heart, we must also look to agriculture and entrepreneurship as key components in our economic revival. Bay County in particular has rich agricultural resources and has potential for growth in both traditional food / livestock production and in new markets, such as biofuels and biomass. We must protect agricultural land and create a modern support infrastructure that makes its possible for small to medium sized farmers to prosper.
Education – We must have strong public education options that cover the learning of the members of our region during all phases of their lives. Public schools should be equitably funded and of the highest quality, community colleges should provide affordable options for those seeking to transition into a new field or to transfer to one of the State’s many publicly funded colleges or universities. Education is the key to both economic security and to the broader goal of an informed electorate.
Environment – Michigan is rich in natural resources, from the Great Lakes to National Forests and some of the most fertile agricultural land in the world. While we understand how valuable these resources have been to use over time, it is clear they are under threat. From the twin oil spills in the Gulf and this week on the west side of our own states, to the import of trash for landfill or incineration, to the unnerving secondary effects of natural gas production on rural communities, we have unprecedented evidence that we must change our behaviors … and soon.
What is your stance on the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
I have not supported either of these wars since their inception. I do not believe in violence as a means to settle cultural or economic disputes. I would support funding only to the extent it pays for the safe and quick removal of our soldiers from both combat zones.
And what about the Second Amendment – the Right to Bear Arms?
I am in favor of gun owners rights. First of all, I grew up in a rural community and I believe hunting and sport shooting to be normal, healthy and generally safe hobbies.
I also call on my experience of living in England, where gun owners face far greater restrictions and handguns are basically forbidden. At one point during my stay it was reported that around 80% of all property crime was occurring when the homeowner was present. That simply doesn’t happen in a country in which a large portion of its law abiding citizens are allowed to keep firearms stored is a safe, but accessible fashion in their home. It is also a fact that the UK has a steady year-on-year increase in handgun crime since enacting legislation that restricted handgun ownership.
There were a couple of more basic elements in play when our forefathers drafted the amendment in question. First, it was meant as a matter of national security that we could call on an armed citizen militia should the need ever arise. It was also created as a balance against a concentration of “police power” in the government. While the signers of the Constitution might not have envisioned the kind of inequity in the technologies available to the armed services and the average citizen, it does not diminish the idea that this same citizen has a right to protect the interests of home, property and family – by taking up arms, if necessary.
Where do you stand on abortion?
I believe that abortion must be legal,safe and made available on reasonable terms to women who wish to exercise this reproductive right.
Same sex unions (a.k.a. “Gay Marriage”)?
I believe that the state should allow for the recognition and sanction of same sex unions. It is my belief that “marriage” is largely a religious rite, should be governed by the practices of that religion and this rite should hold no special preference in a secular state. Consenting adults, however, should be able to enter into recognized unions that bestow property rights, employment benefits or similar privileges currently reserved for married couples. The existence of a religious recognition or an active sexual relationship should have no bearing on these rights and privileges.
Why should someone vote for you?
I have the right experience for today’s environment. Unlike many candidates, many of whom tout similar priorities, I have an actual track record in our areas of greatest need, like technology, energy, manufacturing, international trade and education. I’ve done nothing but help people promote their own careers and their own well being all of my life. My experience matches our problems and offers unique preparation for the challenges ahead. I can make a difference in the lives of many people through a successful campaign.