How Will Cathy Lead?

Our values are the foundation of how we live our lives. Values are the threads that connect us to each other and make it possible to live in this world together. I have lived my life with valuing honesty, fairness, community, self-reliance, empathy, curiosity, fiscal responsibility, and freedom. Many values are common between diverse people.

What are your values? That is where I will start the conversation with you, because that is where we will find common ground.

When I am your State Representative, I will apply these values and lead with:

My constituents deserve complete transparency in the election and governing process. I will explain why I voted for or against legislation. We must base our decisions on facts, and I will strive to know the facts.

Our Michigan Constitution obligates me, as an oath taker, to work for ALL the people.

§ 1 Political power. Sec. 1. All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their equal benefit, security and protection.

For too long, many people living in our state have not been given equal benefit, security, and protection. I will think through and apply fairness considerations to all decisions I make.


One of our greatest assets is the willingness for people to listen to each other, put ourselves in another’s shoes, and work together to realize actual possibilities to improve our quality of life. At this critical time in our state and country we are faced with a decision; do we want to accept an authoritarian way of governing? If not, we must work together to elect candidates who will represent your values, no matter the party. As your Representative, I will be available to you often, whether or not you voted for me.

I grew up in a middle-class community, with all the benefits of a good education, health care and a safe neighborhood. I became a teacher, teacher educator and a 30-year small business owner. Self-reliance was no accident; it was modeled by my parents and made possible with the supports I received in my younger years. Self-reliance should be our goal, but we must understand that it doesn’t always happen naturally. As your legislator, I will keep this in mind as we work for legislation that builds self-reliance.

From an early age, I remember considering what it must be like to be another person, to walk in their shoes. When we take the time to get to know someone and really listen with empathy, we begin to understand who they are and why they live the life they do. We need to give people opportunities to tell the stories of their lives, so others will understand, too.

In my work with teachers, we often talked about supporting a growth mindset with their students. A sense of curiosity and the switch from saying, “I don’t know” to “I don’t know, yet” makes a huge difference to our world view and the quest for learning. My curiosity will be demonstrated by engaging constituents to learn more about their lives and ideas. One of the responsibilities of an elected official is to always be learning.

Fiscal Responsibility
I owned two successful small businesses in Grand Rapids; a childcare center for 15 years and a retail store for 30 years. My husband, Rick, and I also mortgaged a few commercial properties over many years. After the 2008 Great Recession, we lost tenants and our properties decreased substantially in value. We were underwater with the bank and had no alternative but to file for personal bankruptcy in 2011. We lost everything we worked so hard to build, including my business and our home. I’m telling this story because even if you play by the rules and practice fiscal responsibility, things can happen outside of your control. Our government must have protections in place so corrupt entities cannot defraud the public.

I am happy to see that Michigan will be adding a personal finance course to high school curriculums. This is a good first start, but there needs to be more support for adults when they live in the real world.

Our government must be fiscally responsible, too, as it is the People’s money it is spending. I believe that the more an individual or business gains from the People’s investments, the more they should contribute (this is associated with my fairness value). The appropriation process should be led with integrity and a goal that the return on investment is maximized, realizing not all returns are in the form of capital gains. Quality of life for all people must also factor into the equation.

We must be honest about true costs. For example, what is the true cost of not providing a high-quality education for all children? What is the true cost of not switching to clean energy as soon as possible? What is the true cost of not having food security as we just experienced with baby formula? What is the true cost of poor or no health care?

In the United States we have rights and freedoms outlined in our Bill of Rights and our Constitution. But with rights, come responsibilities. Living in a democracy, we are responsible for the general welfare of its people. For this reason, we have laws and other protections, to make sure all people can live a safe and successful life. As your representative, I will work to provide a balance to ensure both rights and protections.

Stewardship of Our Earth
We all share one planet. One person’s or business’s pollution to the environment does not end at their property line. We are already seeing many people who contribute much less to our environmental collapse paying a higher price.

I believe the overwhelming evidence and analyses from climate scientists that human’s are the major contributors to climate change and we are in a critical period to substantially mitigate the damage. We must act quickly to build our clean energy infrastructure, create and enforce clean water and air protections and implement new ways of agriculture, like regenerative farming practices. We must personally take responsibility for our one-use plastic, excessive energy and water use, and reliability on fossil fuels. My work as your legislator will prioritize our precious Earth. As they say, “We don’t have a Planet B”.