MSU Today: Meet the national security veteran who represents MSU in the US House

 In America

By Russ White

U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin serves the people of the 8th Congressional District of Michigan, a district that spans Ingham, Livingston, and North Oakland counties.

The major cities include (most of) Lansing, East Lansing, Brighton, Howell, Clarkston, Lake Orion, Rochester, and Rochester Hills. That would include then, of course, Michigan State University.  Representative Slotkin describes how September 11 led to her “unusual” and apolitical path to Congress as part of our country’s national security team. She quips that she met her husband in Iraq “where every good girl meets her husband – in Saddam Hussein’s palace.”  She explains how ultimately she was motivated to run for Congress in May of 2017, “the first time the House of Representatives voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. What I really care about is protections for people with preexisting conditions.” She talks about what has surprised her about being in Congress and how there are really only 50 or 60 truly independent swing districts in the entire country and how that reduces interest in bipartisan cooperation. Slotkin says her priorities “are the things I get pulled over in the grocery store about: the price of healthcare, the price of prescription drugs, clean water, and then bringing some sense of civility and decency back to government.” And she describes how Covid-19 has impacted these priorities. She says her “new obsession” has her focused on America’s supply chain and bringing some of our manufacturing base back to the United States, especially on medical supplies and pharmaceuticals. On the challenges facing Michigan State University and all of higher education, Rep. Slotkin says colleges and universities are struggling with the drop in revenue brought on by Covid-19. And she expresses her concern about the “massive” problem of student debt. “I’m a big believer that getting a student loan is not like getting a loan to build a new deck on your house. It’s an investment in your future. All loans should be capped at 2.5 percent.” Slotkin says she wants to continue to work to bring down the cost of prescription drugs. “And we need to treat our environmental security like homeland security. We have an opportunity in Michigan to reframe how we talk about environmental issues. It’s not a niche issue that only one party cares about. It’s about preservation of our way of life and the safety and security of our kids. If you can’t feed your child a glass of water without knowing if they’re going to get sick, that is a threat to your family. And if you can’t fish the rivers your grandfather taught you to fish in, that is a threat to your way of life. “In an independently minded district (like Michigan’s 8th) where everyone has very different views on things, I hope to be a representative that hears everyone, reaches out to everyone, and tries to hear all sides and makes independently minded decisions about pieces of legislation. “I hope this district wants a representative that tries to lead based on integrity and duty to the Constitution. That doesn’t mean everyone will agree with everything I ever do. But I hope they know that I’m doing this from a place of principle.” Rep. Slotkin adds that she thinks “our young people are doing a good job of showing that they’re ready to lead. In terms of preparing yourself for elected office or to lead in general, you can’t study it in a book. You have to put yourself out there, take a little risk, and run for something now. You have to take initiative and experience what it is to lead in order to sharpen those skills.  “I still believe that in the United States, fortune favors the bold. If you’re willing to try something and do something that others are reticent to do. If you put your blood, sweat, and tears into it, you’re still going to succeed here more than anywhere else on the planet. But you have to put yourself out there. You can’t just comment from the sidelines. You have to be the man or the woman in the arena, as the phrase goes. That starts wherever you are in high school or college. You have to run for something. You have to lead now in order to learn how to do it really well.” MSU Today airs Sunday mornings at 9:00 on 105.1 FM, AM 870, and your smart speaker and connected devices. 

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