Election 2022: Republican Primary for Michigan State Representative

Readers will note that our 2022 primary election coverage only includes Republican races. This should not be interpreted as partisanship on the part of Lowell’s First Look, but rather, it reflects the fact that only the Republican primary races are contested. All Democratic candidates in Lowell-area districts are running unopposed.

The questions below were selected to provide you with a broad overview of a candidate’s political philosophy and priorities. We could not possibly cover all the topics and issues that are of interest to voters. Instead, we hope these questions will provide you a base for evaluating your choices, and we encourage you to visit candidate websites and social media pages to learn more about each person.

Michigan State Representative — District 78

The 78th District of the Michigan State House of Representatives includes the City of Lowell, Lowell Charter Township, Bowne Township, Boston Township and Keene Township as well as other areas to the south and east. If you live in Vergennes Township or Grattan Township, you are in the 90th District – scroll down to see your candidates.

Four candidates are vying for the Republican nomination in the 78th District. The winner will face Democratic candidate Leah Groves in November’s general election.

Candidates are listed in alphabetical order, by last name. Responses have not been edited and are published exactly as provided by each candidate.

Christine Barnes

Campaign address: Mulliken
Website: https://www.barnesforstate.com/
Social media: Facebook

Ben Geiger

Campaign address: Nashville
Website: https://www.votegeiger.com/
Social media: YouTube

Gina Johnsen

Campaign address: Lake Odessa
Website: https://www.gina4staterep.com/
Social media: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube

Jon Rocha

Campaign address: Alto
Website: https://www.votejonrocha.com/
Social media: Facebook, Twitter
*Note: Jon Rocha’s name will not appear on the ballot, but he has registered as a write-in candidate.

Why are you running to be a state representative?

Barnes: I am running for office so that our small businesses, farmers, families and first responders have a strong voice in Lansing. I have spent my entire life volunteering in my community. I empathize with the struggles that face our neighbors. I understand what it is like to try to navigate government bureaucracy. I want to help those that feel overwhelmed find solutions to their challenges. As the only candidate in my race that is married, I know how important the nuclear family is. I am a concerned Grammy that worries for the future of my grandchildren, and I can’t sit by and do nothing. I am the only candidate who owns their home, owns a business and who has ever voted in the district. I believe that the State Representative elected to district 78 should have a vested interest in our community.

Geiger: Burdensome executive orders. Unfair corporate handouts. Gridlock on common sense reforms. These failures have eroded trust between voters and their representatives. I believe in better and am running to restore trust. As State Representative, I will deliver honest, experienced leadership to this district.

Johnsen: I have over 30 years of business experience, in various industries including financial services, insurance, and healthcare.

I am Executive Director of 2 non-profits serving the community: Michigan Capitol House of Prayer (12 years) and Pregnancy Center of Eaton County. I have hired and managed staff, signed the front and back of checks, have run board meetings, have fundraised, and have grown these and other organizations to the success they now enjoy, for the purpose of improving each community/State of Michigan.

As a mother and community member, I have interfaced and worked with private schools, public schools, and the homeschool community. I have taught and am currently teaching in the classroom.

I am set apart from my opponents because I have a service record and business background much longer than both of them, which is more than lip service and ideas. I have served in the state senate as a legislative policy director, and for the past 20 years, as a citizen lobbyist, I have been active and have trained others to be engaged and effective to influence Lansing politics. With that experience, I am well aware of the Lansing political environment – the good, the bad, and the ugly. I will not fall prey to their games. Michigan is in dire straits and we must turn it around in every aspect.

Rocha: I am running for State Representative to restore liberty, prosperity, and parental control in Michigan . What’s happening under Whitmer, Benson, Nessel and sadly, too many Republicans makes me sick. I want to turn the corrupt Lansing establishment upside down, and give control of our government back to “We, the people.” I know we can do so much better for not only my 2 kids, but all of our families.

What do you see as the three biggest issues facing Michigan, and what specific policy or initiative would you champion to address each one?

Barnes: There is no doubt the number one issue I hear at the over 11k doors I have knocked is, Michigan’s infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired. Whether we are discussing the current condition of our roads and bridges or high speed connectivity in our rural communities, infrastructure is a hot topic. I served on the Tri County Regional Planning Commission as an appointed Commissioner. I understand from experience how infrastructure projects are prepared and funded. I will continue my work as a strong advocate of infrastructure projects and help small communities navigate the bureaucracy to bring those dollars to District 78 communities.

District 78 is encompassed by beautiful fields growing vital products for our Michigan economy. As the exclusively endorsed Michigan Farm Bureau candidate in District 78, agriculture will be a focal point of my first term in office. I hope to serve on the  Regulatory Reform and Agricultural Committees, where I can be a good partner to the agricultural community. I will work to reduce redundant and over regulated legislation that unduly burdens our farmers.

The pandemic taught many in Michigan how important first responders are to the health and welfare of our state. However, little has been done to recruit and retain these heros who serve our communities. First responders will have a strong voice when I am elected as the next State Representative of District 78. We need better funding for Fire, Police and Corrections. I will champion those who run in when others run out.

Geiger: 1) Rising inflation and the soaring price of gas. While the state leaders have limited tools to fix this, we can do our part by ensuring Line 5 is open, keeping government spending in check, and by not burdening our industries with anti-growth regulations. 2) The skilled labor gap that is holding back job creators and economic opportunities. State government can do its part by streamlining the certification process for skilled labor positions and by expanding career technical education – which I have done as Barry County Commissioner. 3) Erosion of trust in our institutions because of poor decision making and ugly politics. I have a clear track record as Barry County Commissioner – a record based on conservative principles and delivering results. I believe our next State Representative will earn the trust of the district by respecting everyone’s rights, avoiding identity politics and looking out for ways to enhance places like Lowell.

Johnsen: I would like to positively impact the following arenas in Michigan: farming, family business, education, and healthcare. Freedoms must be retained as well as parental choices and healthcare independence/autonomy. State farming regulations must assist the farmer and be practical instead of destroying his/her ability to conduct business and maintain basic function. Our local food supply is at risk because of abusive state government policies.

Rocha: The 3 biggest issues facing Michigan right now are:

1. Fighting for our kids, by banning radical sexual indoctrination and CRT in Michigan’s public schools, like Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida, as well as doing whatever we can to bankrupt and destroy the “abortion industrial complex,” and create a strong culture of life in our state for kids and young families.

2. Fighting for fair and secure elections, by implementing photo ID, banning unsolicited absentee ballots and drop boxes, as well as implementing forensic audits and hand counts.

3. Fighting for fiscal responsibility. The budget needs to be reigned in quickly, it’s controlled by lobbyists, leftists, and RINOs who take our money for wasteful government programs, special interest pork projects, and corporate welfare to get themselves reelected. Michigan families deserve much better. I will fight like hell to stop Lansing’s spending spree, and their nasty habit of continually picking winners and losers with our money.

If elected, what issues important to Lowell do you foresee being able to address at the state level?

Barnes: I have spent a good deal of time in Lowell since being asked to run for State Representative of District 78. I am proud to have the endorsement of Mayor Pro Tem Marty Chambers. I look forward to advocating for the needs of Lowell government units and the Chamber of Commerce. I am endorsed by The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce and will be a strong voice for businesses in Lowell. We need to have more revenue sharing with local units of government from the state. This will allow for infrastructure, safety and congestion projects to be implemented in our growing communities. I will work to bring better funding to Lowell to support emergency services. We need to address the retention and recruitment of first responders.

Geiger: Lowell is a wonderful town! I want to help enhance it even more. As Commissioner, I understand strategies for growing local economies. Much of our growth depends on the strength of the region, there are still ways we can help bolster local economies. Like I’ve done in Barry County, I’ll help pursue any and all state and federal grants that improve infrastructure and promote place making in cities like Lowell.

Johnsen: For Lowell, like many small cities, we are facing similar issues: difficult economic environment for local businesses, labor shortages, and inflation.

Rocha: Everything I do in Lansing will be for the people of Lowell and the 78th District, with the Constitution as my guide. My office will have top shelf constituent service, so we will always be able to respond to people’s questions and concerns in a timely manner, and help out whenever possible. I will put Lowell and the 78th District first, over lobbyists and special interests, always.

As a Republican candidate, what do you think should be the role of former president Donald Trump in the Republican Party today?

Barnes: That would depend on what President Trump decides to do in the next election cycle. If former President Trump makes a determination that he will run for President of the United States in 2024, his responsibility to our party is different than if he does not.

Geiger: As Chair of the Barry County Republican Party, I understand just how much Donald Trump’s candidacy proved to our nation that voters are tired of business as usual. Former President Trump speaks for a lot of voters in Michigan, and they and he will always have a place in our party. We as Republicans must remain a big tent party by focusing on policies and issues that unite us. Donald Trump’s enjoyed many tremendous successes as president and many people, myself included, would much rather he were still in office, instead of President Biden.

Johnsen: Donald Trump is not on the ballot, and if we as a state/city are looking to him or any other national leader to solve our local problems, we’ve already failed.  We have the resources and the talent to solve Michigan’s problems and turn our state in the right direction.

Rocha: I believe President Trump won in 2020, he is the leader of our party, and I am honored to have his endorsement in this race. I hope he runs again in 2020.

Why should people vote for you?

Barnes: I am asking District 78 constituents to vote for me, because I will serve We the People. I care very deeply about our community. I did not move here chasing the path of least resistance to power. I already lived here. I own my home, I own a small business and I have been intricately involved in charity work. I have built the relationships necessary to advocate for my  neighbors. I have been elected so I know how budgets and funding works.  However, I have not worked downtown Lansing, so I am not part of the problems of the past. I am an experienced community member with a fresh voice for Lansing. I have endorsements from those you trust. The chamber, Farm Bureau, Michigan Retailers, local government officials and emergency first responders have all joined my team. I am asking you to join Team Barnes as well. When elected I will form an advisory group of 78 community members with varying political leanings. I vow to meet with these volunteers 6 times a year and listen to their input on upcoming legislative actions. If anyone would like to help me with this first ever community advisory group, reach out to me at 616-899-8233 or [email protected], together we can improve the lives of neighbors here in District 78. Please vote Barnes on August 2nd or your absentee ballot today.

Geiger:  I’m running because Lowell deserves the best representation it can have in Lansing. I have the experience, the values, the track record and the approach to be an effective leader for Lowell.

Johnsen: See my website for more information: Gina4StateRep.com, Facebook: Gina4StateRep.

Rocha: I am asking you to fill in the bubble and write in Jon Rocha because I am a proven fighter who cares about the future of our state, and our Republic. I fought for our country in Afghanistan in the Marine Corps. I fought for Marlena when she was arrested for serving pizza. I fought school boards who shut down our schools and forced our kids to wear masks. I fought for President Trump and election security after the 2020 election. It would be an honor to earn your vote, and fight for the 78th District in Lansing. I won’t let you down.

Michigan State Representative – District 90

The 90th District of the Michigan House of Representatives includes Vergennes Township and Grattan Township as well as other areas to the north and west.

Two candidates are vying for the Republican nomination in the 90th District. The winner will face Democratic candidate Meagan Hintz in November’s general election.

Candidates are listed in alphabetical order, by last name. Responses have not been edited and are published exactly as provided by each candidate.

Kathy Clark

Campaign address: Rockford
Website: https://livefreewithkc.com/
Social media: NA

Bryan Posthumus

Campaign address: Rockford
Website: https://www.posthumusformichigan.com/
Social media: Facebook

Why are you running to be a state representative?

Clark: I have been working to save our country for most of my life. Starting with the rebellion in the 60’s and 70’s, I was thrust into the revolution to destroy our culture and nation. In those times, when I had to force my way through protesters blocking doors to get into buildings for my classes only to see them come in and take over the class, I began to attend the rallies for the MSU Dept. of Public Safety.

Now, as a retired police officer, retired pastor and retired Rockford School Bus Driver, I have spent a lifetime of service and decades fighting to save people, Michigan and the United States. We are spiraling into chaos because we have failed to teach our true history and values. Now, the void is being replaced with hatred and anti-values. Whatever we hold dear is now evil and we are required to celebrate what we do not believe. The Constitution and our heroic heritage and founders are demonized.

Our elected leaders have failed to face this crisis and in ignoring it become complicit or worst, using it to stay in power.

You and I are going to have to shoulder our civic responsibilities. If we are going to enjoy and celebrate the blessings and freedoms of living in the greatest nation ever, we must take up our responsibility to run it and stop leaving it up to a ruling class of families that believe that the power and state belong to them.

I am running to send the elite packing and move us from election year lip service to actually solving our problems.

Posthumus: I am running for State Representative to continue the work I started when I took office a year and a half ago. We need people in Lansing willing to stand up to the governor when necessary, and also able to effectively get things done for the people of our community.

What do you see as the three biggest issues facing Michigan, and what specific policy or initiative would you champion to address each one?

Clark: My top priorities are:

A. Election Integrity and investigation of 2020 election crimes.
B. Restoring our second amendment rights, given to us by God and usurped by men.
C. Ending Government Schools and restoring Public Schools run by the local
community-the parents of the kids in the school.
D. Health choice

1. Parent’s rights in their kids’ education
2. Workforce shortages, particularly in the skilled trades.
3. The ever expanding scope of government and increasing burden of taxes on our families.

I fought for parents’ rights in education by spearheading Student Opportunity Scholarships – private funds that could be used for the student for a broad array of opportunities the parent believes best suits the unique needs of their child. When the governor vetoed this legislation, I took it to the people, and by this time next year, parents will have more say in their kid’s education despite the Governor’s opposition.

I have sponsored a package of bills that would cut bureaucratic red tape by allowing for licensing reciprocity across state lines for skilled trades, Healthcare professionals, and barbers and other professions. This would mean that if an electrician is licensed and qualified to work in another state, they can easily move here and do the same job without the government getting in the way.

I sponsored the very first tax cut signed into law by this governor, and then supported additional tax relief for families, seniors, parents. Unfortunately the governor vetoed this much needed tax relief at the pump and in our paychecks, but the fight isn’t over yet.

If elected, what issues important to Lowell do you foresee being able to address at the state level?

Clark: The issues that I have worked out plans for that will affect the Lowell area citizens are:

a. Protect Life
b. Restore your 1 st , 2 nd , 9 th , and 10 th amendment rights
c. Protect girl’s/women’s rights in sports, locker rooms and bathrooms
d. Restore law and order and support our law enforcement officers
e. Address the current crisis of energy costs and food supplies
f. Restore gov. to the people
g. Return our schools to their community
h. Election integrity and 2020 investigation and accountability
i. Medical choice

Posthumus: While the issues above impact the entire state as a whole, they are also critical for Lowell and Kent County. Specifically to Lowell however, water quality and contamination is something that the state needs to take an aggressive role in mitigating. We owe it to our citizens to ensure that our communities are safe.

As a Republican candidate, what do you think should be the role of former president Donald Trump in the Republican Party today?

Clark: President Trump is the head of the Republican Party until the next Republican President is elected.

Posthumus: President Trump is in a unique position that could allow our country to unite, or further divide. It is my hope that he will work toward uniting our country and work with the next Republican nominee for president to reignite the economic growth his conservative policies created.

Why should people vote for you?

Clark: We vote for a representative to speak for us. The state constitution gives us the right to advise our representative. If you agree with me, then I would appreciate your vote, your input and encouragement. You can find my plans at https;//livefreewithkc.com If you do not agree with me, find a candidate that you agree with.

Posthumus: I ask the Lowell community to support me in my reelection for three reasons:

1. I will use my business experience to support neighborhood job providers.
2. I support our men and women in uniform
3. I led the fight for parents rights in their childrens’ education.

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