86th District Green Candidate Cliff Yankovich Posts Answers To MLive Voter Guide

These are my answers to an MLive Voter Guide. 

NOTE: While I appreciated the opportunity with MOST of the questions to provide detailed answers, there was no allowance for anything but a yes or no on the last three questions, one of which was regarding abortion. I believe part of the problem with politics these days is that we want to address complex issues with yes/no answers and as a result we pigeonhole people quickly and dismiss anything they might have to say beyond the first word.

So - I have my "yes" or "no" answers below ALONG WITH the expanded versions I would have liked to include on the MLive Voter Guide. The expanded version is in bold type.

 Here is the MLive Guide

Why are you running for office?

My run was initiated 3 years ago when I found out about pipeline #5 under the Straits. Water is life for all of us - no matter what political party, if any, we belong to. Water is the future. For us to allow a 63 year old set of pipes to move almost a million gallons of Canadian oil from Canada to Canada and endanger the fresh water supply for millions is a very moronic gamble. In the past I have been frustrated when our legislators voted themselves a huge pay raise when our state economy was #48 of 50. Government in Michigan was instituted for the benefit of the PEOPLE and it needs to be restored. That is the reason I am running as a Green Party candidate - we cannot accept Corporate or PAC donations. I believe governance is a calling to work for the greater good. My campaign slogan: "I will put the interest of the taxpayers of Michigan as a whole, and the 86th District in particular, ahead of my own interests and the interests of companies or corporations."

Why do you identify with your political affiliation? Are there any issues on which you differ from your political party?

Consider the opening words of the Michigan Constitution: "All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their equal benefit, security, and protection." Art 1, Sec 1. The legislative body in Michigan is currently the fiefdom of one family that spends millions though direct contributions and indirectly through PACs to control it. This is not what the Constitution intended. Green Candidates cannot accept corporate or PAC money - that is the only way political power will be restored to the people as it was intended. I am in agreement with the 4 Pillars of the Green Party because the embody the words of the Michigan Constitution quoted above: 1. Ecological Wisdom. 2. Social Justice. 3. Grassroots Democracy and 4. Non-violence - while recognizing the right of self-defense. (No one is coming for your guns.)

Do you support the state’s current use of emergency managers? Please detail your position.

No I do not. In every instance it has shown itself to exacerbate the problem(s). If a City or School District finds itself in financial trouble, the answer is not to bring in EMs that are paid large amounts of money to usurp local authority. Financial trouble should not be an Us versus Them game. We are all Michiganders - when one City or one school district is hurting, it will hurt all of the state. A better way would be for the State to send in advisers who will work with local authorities to find problems and fix them A spirit of co-operation is what is needed when trouble comes. The current method creates animosity that is easy to understand - the will of the voters and tax payers is overlooked or ignored.

Do you think there is a legislative solution for skyrocketing college tuition? If so, what?

We need to get men and women, working with the students, on the various governing Boards of the colleges and universities who recognize the crippling burden of student debt. The Green Party of Michigan has at least 6 such candidates on the ballot this fall and I am confident they have the best interest of students at heart. I support the National Green platform piece to slash our military spending and use that money to pay off and/or provide college tuition. A high school diploma can be obtained in our country free of charge. That was enough in the last century, now I believe we need to extend that free education to the college and technical/vocational school level. I believe that education, like health care and prisons, should NOT be a For Profit undertaking. Quality education for everyone in Michigan will lift the boat for ALL of us.

What is the state’s role in providing funding to address the Flint water crisis and do you believe the state has done enough?

If the state had done the right thing in the first place we would not be facing millions, (billions??), in lawsuits now. The state should find the money to replace the pipes in Flint and make it whole again. Anyone who takes the time to read the emails made public can clearly see the obfuscation that was practiced with the lives of children in the balance. This is a terrible reflection of what our government in Michigan has become - chasing the dollar with no respect for the lives of at risk people.

What, if anything, should the state be doing to fund underground infrastructure improvements including lead pipe removal?

The state should plead with the Federal government for all the help it can get and do what ever it can to re-do the piping. If the proper additives would have been used to begin with, this would not have happened at all or if it had happened, it would have been to a much lesser degree. If we can give a billionaire millions for a stadium or provide billions of gallons of water at a pittance to a multi-billion FOREIGN based corporation, we can sure provide safe drinking water for the people of Flint. There is enough money to do what needs to be done, it just needs to be allocated properly with the best interests of everyone in mind.

What issues do you consider a top priority?

Almost every priority issue on my list falls under the general heading of removing the influence of money in Lansing and restoring the political power to the people as the Michigan Constitution promises. The items on my agenda include: The failure to deal with pipeline #5, the crisis of school funding, the deplorable condition of our roads, the ridiculous amounts of money we hand out to billionaires and corporations (hockey stadium and Nestle water deal) who do not need the help of our tax dollars, and even the fact that our state is rated at the very bottom when it comes to transparency speak to the problem of the influence of money in Lansing. I have promised that if elected I will introduce a bill to tie legislative pay to the median pay in Michigan. Doing this will send a message to the voters and give ALL legislators the incentive to work together to create better, high paying jobs in Michigan so that EVERYONE benefits. We are all in this together.

Do you support legalized abortion? (Yes or no)

Frankly I do not believe an issue of abortion can or should be limited to a one word answer. I would not like a one word answer to the question of Emergency Managers and the issue of abortion is much more complex. Here is what I would have liked to write:

Yes, I support the right for a woman to chose an abortion. Guess that earns me the label "Pro-choice". That being said, I am also anti-abortion. By this I mean I would rather that no woman or couple ever made the decision to terminate a pregnancy. There is NO easy answer to an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. I am speaking with some experience as we had a family member who chose to put her baby up for adoption. While this is certainly a happier LIFE decision and a better option in my mind to abortion by a long shot, it is by no means and easy decision for the people involved to make or carry out. Trust me.

Just because I would rather no one ever made the decision to abort a baby, I believe to make such a thing a law is a mistake on several levels. Who am I, a 58 year old man, to tell a woman of any age what she can or cannot do with her pregnancy? She is the one with the heavy burden of motherhood staring her in the face. If it were against the law, then we are going to add her and others to the role of "criminals" because there will still be women seeking abortions, law or no.

I also think we need to provide free, non-judgmental, open access to birth control - not only the educational piece, but the methods to implement it as well. In a perfect world no couple who did NOT want children would be having sex. However, we do not live in that world.

Currently Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which protects people from discrimination in housing or employment, does not cover LGBT individuals. Should the Michigan legislature amend the act to provide LGBT individuals with those protections? (Yes or No)

We should not be able to discriminate against anyone. 

Would you sign or have you during this campaign signed a pledge to not raise taxes? (Yes or no)

In my experience, these type of pledges are usually associated with PAC money. As a Green I cannot accept PAC money. Not only that, but this type of pledge hog ties legislators in their ability to address problems as they arise. Notably in Michigan - the condition of our roads. Rather than just make an adjustment to gasoline taxes with the condition that said tax increase ONLY be used for roads, our legislators had to kick it down the road to 2017 when their terms were over. Meanwhile our roads get worse and worse to the point where they damage vehicles and lower gas milage. Totally self defeating behavior in my opinion. 

Do you believe the state should use public money to reimburse private schools for state-mandated reporting requirements for items like safety drills and immunization statements. (Yes or No) No.

The law clearly says, "NO" to this. Governor Snyder did it anyway. It is a thinly veiled move with the long term goal of directing tax money to schools associated with religious teachings which is expressly forbidden by law. The Governor admitted his actions would result in lawsuits - do we not have enough tax dollars being wasted on lawsuits in Michigan?


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