The Rapidian

Democrat David LaGrand vies for Michigan House seat

David LaGrand hopes to win to a Michigan House seat on his commitment to criminal justice reform, equitable housing and alternative energy. The Democrat will face Republican Blake Edmonds in the March 8, 2016 general election.

/David LaGrand for State House

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David LaGrand

David LaGrand /David LaGrand for State House

David LaGrand, after defeating fellow Democratic contender Michael Scruggs in primaries this November, is slated to be on the March 8 ballot against Republican Blake Edmonds to represent Michigan’s 75th district in Lansing.

He is the Democratic party’s nominee to fill Brandon Dillon’s Michigan House seat, after Dillon left to become the party’s chairman.

LaGrand, who describes himself as an urbanist and a democrat, is running on a platform of promoting fairness and equality in education, housing and the justice system, and a desire to promote clean energy.

“What makes me a democrat is the foundational belief that a thriving society is one where we include everyone and where we support everyone,” LaGrand says.

LaGrand, 49, was elected to the Grand Rapids City Commission in 2007 and has served on the Grand Rapids Board of Education since 2012. He is also the owner of the Wealthy Street Bakery.

LaGrand earned his law degree from the University of Chicago in 1994, and started his career as an attorney in 2000. He served as Assistant Kent County Prosecutor for eight years, and is the co-owner of the law business LaGrand and Lowry PLLC, which focuses on family and criminal law.

LaGrand says his good fortune has put him in a position to advocate for others.

“I am not part of the lower class; that means, for me talking about poverty, there is more of a moral obligation,” he says.

The criminal justice system is in need of reform, LaGrand says, citing issues such as the cost of posting bond, which he says is keeping too many people behind bars. Criminal justice issues tend to keep disadvantaged communities down, he says.

“It’s very hard to ignore the reality of who we are incarcerating in America disproportionately,” he says. “We massively disproportionately incarcerate African Americans.”

LaGrand says there is also a crisis of equitable housing in Grand Rapids, and a need to provide poor minority communities with more opportunities.

“There is a great entrepreneurial talent in this town and a lot of entrepreneurial energy,” LaGrand says. “Access to capital is certainly something that isn’t there or that doesn’t exist across racial groups.”

LaGrand says he supports urban renewal projects, but that revitalization has to be inclusive.

“We certainly have an urgent need for more affordable housing in Grand Rapids, and by affordable I don’t mean affordable for the middle class,” he says, citing high rates of child poverty and high free/reduced school lunch rates in public schools.

LaGrand says he is “distressed” with tax cuts made by Governor Rick Snyder’s administration when the minimum wage is still, for many people, not a living wage.

“We don’t want Grand Rapids to be a tale of two cities, where everyone goes to Founders and drinks beer and talks about how great Grand Rapids is, and where people are working full time and not paying rent,” he says.

LaGrand says he wants Michigan to have a strong clean energy standard, and to provide individuals with incentives for using clean energy. He says he is very excited about solar energy in particular, and would like to free barriers for individuals to produce and use as much solar energy as possible.

“I am convinced that [solar is] the wave of the future, and I certainly don’t want to put roadblocks in the way of individuals investing in clean energy,” he says.

Currently, individuals can only produce as much energy as they use, and LaGrand says he would like to lift this regulation.

“I think capping is an obsolete mechanism that we have got to fix,” he says, adding that it would benefit both public health and the planet.

LaGrand says he is a gun owner and an avid hunter, but that he supports gun-free zones and that allowing individuals to open carry in all public places, such as schools, is an “alarming idea.”

“The reality is that we have to have a good, robust conversation in society about this,” he says. “We have to acknowledge that in spite of what the NRA may say, guns do kill people.”

LaGrand will face Republican Blake Edmonds for the 75th district Michigan House seat. The 75th district encompasses most of the city of Grand Rapids.

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