Four candidates are seeking to fill the Fourth District seat for U.S. Congress this November.

Incumbent Republican candidate John Moolenaar is facing off against Democrat Jerry Hilliard, Libertarian David Canny, and Green Party candidate Amy Slepr to fill the two-year term in Congress. With that mind, the Cadillac News asked each candidate a series of questions to help inform the district's voters before they head out to the polls or send in an absentee ballot. The questions and responses from each candidate are what follows.

John Moolenaar, Incumbent Republican candidate

• Why are you running for this seat/seeking re-election?

I believe America is worth fighting for. As your Congressman, I will continue to fight to restore the American dream of economic opportunity for those who work hard to support their families.


• In your opinion, what do you believe are the core responsibilities of the office you are seeking?

As your representative in Congress, it is my responsibility to uphold and defend the Constitution, and to be a voice for practical solutions that help the people of Mid and Northern Michigan.


• What do you believe are the biggest issues facing the country? With this in mind, what will be your plan to address at least one of these issues?

Right now, the most important issue is defeating the virus and helping Michigan workers and small businesses recover and rebuild. There was a strong economy before the pandemic with low unemployment, and in some cases, the number of jobs available was higher than the number of people looking for work. We need to rebuild the economy so that all Michigan workers can pursue good-paying job opportunities. We also need to help small businesses. Small businesses are crucial to so many of the communities in mid and northern Michigan including Cadillac and Wexford County. I will be working to support policies that help those who need it most, including a $2,000 child tax credit for working families, forgivable loans for small businesses, and funding for job-training programs that prepare workers for opportunities in the skilled trades.

• How can Congress help to address the health care issues facing the people in this country? How can it be made affordable?

During this pandemic I have been focused on making sure our rural hospitals have the resources they need to weather these unprecedented times. This includes supporting legislation like the CARES Act, which provided billions of dollars in funding to our health care system during the peak of the pandemic and created several programs to help keep people employed. It means supporting the expansion of telehealth services through Medicare so our seniors can receive care at home and don’t have to travel a long way to see a doctor. More generally, there is no question that America is a global leader in health care from breakthrough medical devices, to novel new cancer treatments, and everything in between. We also need to make sure we continue to create new treatments that help all Americans live longer, healthier lives. I have voted for more funding for the National Institutes of Health to support research into cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases that take our loved ones away from us.


• How can Congress help to address the issues surrounding student loans in this country?

Uncertainty surrounding the reopening of colleges and universities this fall has made the issue of student loan debt all the more important. Many students have had to seriously reevaluate their plans for the future due to disruptions in higher education and the job market caused by the pandemic. I believe there are bipartisan solutions that can help tackle the student debt crisis by ensuring that institutions of higher education make more information available regarding the career prospects of their graduates and incentivizing employers to contribute to employees' student loan debt as part of their compensation package.


• How can Congress find solutions that will keep Social Security intact? 

Social Security is a sacred trust between the federal government and Americans who have planned out their retirement based on the certainty of that income. I remain committed to preserving Social Security for those in or near retirement. However, in order to ensure that future generations can rely on Social Security, policymakers must come together to ensure the longevity of the program.


• The country seems to be divided on many topics, how will you work in cooperation with those on the other side of the aisle?

As our state’s senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, I have worked across the aisle to secure funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. This year we passed legislation funding the GLRI at the highest level in nine years. The GLRI works with state and local governments as well as universities and conservation groups to protect the Great Lakes for future generations.

• How can Congress help open up the economy while protecting small businesses and workers?

We are now a few months into almost every state having reopened to some degree and while there have certainly been serious spikes in a few areas, overall we have not seen the massive new wave of infections many feared. I believe that most businesses can reopen safely if they follow CDC guidelines and make common sense changes to how they do business. However, many businesses would not have been able to make it through the extended lockdown during the spring if Congress had not provided resources like the Paycheck Protection Program. That is an example of an initiative that has broad bipartisan support. Currently, there is $130 billion in PPP funds that small businesses are unable to access and I am working to reopen that program.


• What types of things can Congress do to help protect the environment, in particular, Michigan?


We are surrounded by a unique national treasure in the state of Michigan, the Great Lakes. It is imperative to ensure that our children and grandchildren get to enjoy the beauty of the Great Lakes and other natural resources, while sustaining our economy and outdoor heritage. I have been a long-time supporter of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and as a member of the House Appropriations Committee I have successfully led the effort to fully fund this vital program each year. The GLRI helps protect our Great Lakes for future generations.


• What ideas do you have in helping to calm tensions and address the issue of racial inequalities?

The tragic death of George Floyd has revived an important conversation about racism and bias in the United States. I welcome this discussion and support peaceful expression of the First Amendment right to protest. Congress was recently able to come together and pass bipartisan criminal justice reform. I believe this coalition can once again come together for the betterment of the American people. I have also signed on as a cosponsor of the JUSTICE Act, which would increase funding for body cameras, improve access to disciplinary records so that bad officers cannot simply jump from one department to another, and invest in improved police training, with an emphasis on de-escalation and duty to intervene. A majority of the Justice Act’s provisions have earned bipartisan support.


• Are you in favor of a second stimulus payment?

I support efforts to help small businesses and families recover, including the possibility of a second payment to those who need it most.

• How should the federal government address the issues surrounding COVID-19? National mask-wearing, increased testing, etc. 

In six months, there has been incredible progress made by scientists around the world as they learn more each day about this virus and the best ways to keep people safe. The federal government’s Operation Warp Speed is moving quickly to support research into treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. The government has also provided hospitals with billions of dollars to help them secure supplies, pay employees, and recover from the loss of other procedures they were unable to do during the spring. I supported those payments and I also supported legislation that was signed into law supporting testing and making it available to anyone who needed it. I encourage everyone to continue to follow CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus and to keep their families safe.

Jerry Hilliard, Democrat candidate 

• Why are you running for this seat/seeking re-election?

I am running for the 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House to make positive change in our district. We currently live in a highly gerrymandered district that benefits the incumbent so there is no incentive to make meaningful change. Our incumbent has been talking about improving rural broadband for years and nothing has changed. Our District still has some of the worst county poverty and child wellbeing rankings in our state and there is still an affordable housing shortage. There is no reason to think any of these important issues and many others are going to change if we do not vote for change. We need new leadership for positive change.


• In your opinion, what do you believe are the core responsibilities of the office you are seeking?

The core responsibilities of the U.S. Congressperson for the 4th District of Michigan:

• Represent all of the citizens of our 4th District, not just their affiliated party members.

• Propose legislation.

• Improve the lives of our citizens by passing legislation that our residents want, like federal funding for rural broadband internet, more federal funding for public schools, environmental cleanup, a fair economy and affordable healthcare.

• Meet and communicate with constituents.

• Act as a check on both the executive and judicial branches.


• What do you believe are the biggest issues facing the country? With this in mind, what will be your plan to address at least one of these issues?

The biggest issues are preserving and improving our environment, a fair economy that works for everyone, affordable healthcare and an educational system that educates all young people equally. For the environment, we need to accelerate our production of green technologies and invest in cleaning up our PFAS contamination and other hazardous chemicals. By investing in new low environmental impact energy to clean up our environment it will not only improve our environment but it will also bring in high paying union jobs to our district and greatly improve our next issue, our economy. For decades consumer prices and rent have risen more than wages for low income people, which lowers standard of living, especially in rural areas like most of our district. New higher paying jobs will create stronger markets for local businesses to sell to as will raising the minimum wage. When the minimum wage goes up most of the extra pay is spent quickly into our local economy, and then creates a chain reaction as businesses spend for new inventory, hire more people to serve the increased business activity and then the cycle repeats. The pandemic is a perfect example of how important consumers are to our economy.

• How can Congress help to address the health care issues facing the people in this country? How can it be made affordable?

Two things we must keep in mind in the process of creating a health system that is affordable, efficient and covers everyone is Medicare is a private and public partnership and covers people 65 and over. Through the natural process of aging this is by far the most expensive group of people to provide affordable health care for, often hundreds of times more than when younger, and we are doing it with a payroll tax of 1.45% paid by workers and the same amount by employers equaling 2.9% of income plus some help for poorer seniors from Medicaid. That means average cost of care should be much less for all other populations. The structure is there for us to provide affordable healthcare for everyone. I suggest we expand that structure to serve the less expensive citizens and pay for the added costs with a separate tax only on those under 65. Under this plan we can start providing needed care now! It is inefficient not to take advantage of the effective system we already have in place. The alternative is endless debates and partisan arguing over healthcare while people suffer as we have for at least the past 12 years.

• How can Congress help to address the issues surrounding student loans in this country?

Helping students today pay back their debt is not much different than what the WWII generation did for their children, just a different time frame. The cost will be an investment in our future in a short period of time. I am a member of the baby boomer generation, a child of the WWII generation. After they won the war they came back to the U.S.A. and, in spite of the enormous U.S. Government debt from WWII, made this country’s government and nation into what they wanted it to be. In addition to building roads, bridges and other infrastructure they invested heavily in their children’s education. Scholarships were readily available and government direct investment into education at all levels was strong and I personally benefited from. Their investment in us created a generation who created more wealth than any previous generation and proved that investing in students creates much more wealth than it costs. Since then societal support has diminished greatly and students create so much more debt to get through college now that if we want future generations to succeed, we need a program to pay back some of the enormous student debt they have accrued.


• How can Congress find solutions that will keep Social Security intact?

This is an important problem, but one of the simplest to solve. S.S. is funded by a payroll tax of 6.2% on workers and 6.2% on employers for 12.4 % of income. What is not commonly know is there is an income cap, after which people do not pay any Social Security tax. The cap changes every year and is currently $137,700 in income after which you pay no more tax. We need to raise that cap to a level that works to fund S.S. as needed. It will take a team of mathematicians to determine what that exact figure should be, and included in that amount we need to create enough cash flow into the system not just to continue to pay full benefits but also to pay back the trillions of dollars that have been “borrowed‘ and spent through the general fund which is added to the national debt, and make it illegal to use S.S. money for other purposes. I quote borrowed because there is no effective current plan to pay back the S.S. fund for the money spent by other government agencies. Once that money is paid back, we may be able to reduce the cap.


• The country seems to be divided on many topics, how will you work in cooperation with those on the other side of the aisle?

In politics rarely does either side of the aisle get everything they want. I will make my decisions based on the best available data on any particular subject and first discuss problems by listening to the citizens of the 4th District and then with my colleagues on both sides of the isle so that we can come up with solutions to problems that improve the lives of most people in the most efficient way possible.


• How can Congress help open up the economy while protecting small businesses and workers?

It is going to take patience and cooperation by everyone involved. Because states cannot create money as the U.S. Government does through Federal Reserve Policies the Federal Government needs to have a well thought out plan concerning what kind and how large of a stimulus plan we will need to keep small businesses and workers functioning until normalcy returns. Based on the first stimulus plan that included payments to households, enhanced unemployment benefits and kept the economy functioning at a basic level, I would push for a larger stimulus package. Stimulus packages work because consumer spending is two-thirds of GDP. When consumers receive a cash stimulus and begin to spend, that spending creates what economists call the multiplier effect of spending. Which basically means for each dollar in stimulus spent a chain reaction is started. The business receives money then the money is spent again on things like wages, inventory and equipment and then those expenditures are spent by the people who received them. The ultimate result is each stimulus dollar spent has much more impact on the economy than one dollar. Then once we have contained the COVID virus the economy can begin to function normally again without stimulus.


• What types of things can Congress do to help protect the environment, in particular, Michigan?


Environmental spending when done wisely, creates more wealth and savings than the initial cost of the cleanup, similar to stimulus packages. Property values are saved and restored, more homes are built, medical costs are avoided, many well-paying jobs are created cleaning up the sites, tourism increases after the cleanup and more. Also, increased consumer spending and revenue from taxes for local roads and other infrastructure. Our recent wave of wind turbines is a great example of what cleaning up the environment can do for tax revenue and incomes.


• What ideas do you have in helping to calm tensions and address the issue of racial inequalities?

Racial inequities have gone on since our country was founded so obviously it is not an easy task and unfortunately, some people want to cause riots. However, one thing we can do is appeal to the good sense of the majority of people who just want to have their voices heard to impose a voluntary curfew on themselves and end their protest one hour before nightfall. I have been to several protests in the 4th District that have ended in late afternoon and they were amazingly calm and peaceful events. The people who want to commit crimes generally wait until after nightfall to better conceal their identity.


• Are you in favor of a second stimulus payment?

Yes, the first stimulus worked, and there was a short second stimulus with lower unemployment benefits. Based on the first stimulus plan that included payments to households, enhanced unemployment benefits and kept the economy functioning at a basic level. I would push for a larger stimulus package. Stimulus packages work because consumer spending is two thirds of GDP and when consumers receive a cash stimulus and begin to spend, that spending creates what economists call of the multiplier effect of spending. Which basically means for each dollar in stimulus spent a chain reaction is started, the business that receives the money then spends the money again on things like wages, inventory and equipment and then those expenditures are spent by the people who received them. The stimulus money can help several individuals and business, not just the recipient. The ultimate result is that each stimulus dollar spent has much more impact on the economy than one dollar. Then once we have contained the Covid virus the economy can begin to function normally again without stimulus.


• How should the federal government address the issues surrounding COVID-19? National mask-wearing, increased testing, etc.

The federal government needs a comprehensive plan based on proven science and advice from experts in the field. If the status quo remains after the November 3 election it will still be entirely up to the states to manage the Covid-19 pandemic as what we have now is their plan, and they have shown no ability to admit mistakes and change direction. If Joe Biden wins and the U.S. Senate majority changes, he has already developed a comprehensive plan which will go into effect on Day 1.

David Canny, LIbertarian candidate

• Why are you running for this seat/seeking re-election?

Since my first Election Day, I have supported candidates over political parties and have often said to friends that, while I more often than not have not voted for the winner, I have rarely voted for a loser. It was in that spirit of independence that I decided to join the Libertarians and to run for Congress in opposition to candidates that continue serve the interests of their parties and donors over the needs of the voters. With Congressional approval polling under 20% and incumbents being reelected 90% it is time to take our government back from career politicians and unelected bureaucrats.

• In your opinion, what do you believe are the core responsibilities of the office you are seeking?


The first responsibility is to support legislation that is in the best interest of the people of Central Michigan. In my mind that starts with a reduced federal government's taxes, restrictions and regulations that are holding back economic growth. It includes a strong and innovative national defense that is not focused on policing the world and supporting a globalist agenda. I will have a focus on promoting the ideals on which this country was founded and building on the history and traditions that strengthen and unify us as a people. Secondly, I believe that our Representative must be a driving force in Washington to force changes in a system that is systematically stripping away the history and traditions that bind us while using the media and education systems to divide us.

• What do you believe are the biggest issues facing the country? With this in mind, what will be your plan to address at least one of these issues?

Currently our two biggest issues are reigniting the economy and repairing a terribly broken education system, and I believe that they can be addressed together. Federal spending and burdensome regulations must be rolled back. Taxes must continue to be reduced to allow workers and businesses to keep more of the money that they earn. Expansion of free market economic opportunity zones that eliminate burdensome regulations and licensing requirements will facilitate job creation and entrepreneurial opportunities. I fully support school choice and enabling any federal education dollars to follow the student's education needs with options of apprenticeship and entrepreneurial training programs. These dollars should also be extended to support trade schools and apprenticeship programs that will provide millions of middle class jobs and restore our depleted skilled trade workforce.


• How can Congress help to address the health care issues facing the people in this country? How can it be made affordable?

To reverse the trend of increasing costs and restricted access to quality health care we must reduce government and insurance paperwork, encourage real price competition and allow unlimited individual and employer contributions to HSA (Health Savings Accounts) to anyone carrying any type of health coverage, including Medicare, VA benefits, etc. as proposed in Senator Paul's Health Savings Accounts for All Act. The Covid 19 pandemic has made us painfully aware of the need to make preparedness a higher priority, starting with responding to Chinese officials' threats of withholding medications with expediting the domestic production of pharmaceuticals


• How can Congress help to address the issues surrounding student loans in this country?

The federal government should not be providing student loans as a lender has only increased the cost of a college education. Private lenders competing to provide student loans will lower the cost of these loans. There are a number of steps that can be taken to reduce the need for these loans as well as the cost of a college education. First, eliminating the unlimited federal money will force schools to be more efficient and competitively priced. Governments also need to take a hard look at the large number of jobs that they offer that unnecessarily require a four-year degree when basic reading, writing, communication and math skills are more than enough to perform those jobs. Supporting Charter Schools, Trade Schools, and Apprenticeship programs at the secondary education level will also reduce the need for college expenses.


• How can Congress find solutions that will keep Social Security intact?


Social Security is a safety net that must be kept secure for those relying on it as senior citizens. Going forward I support a private option for younger workers. I support eliminating the cap on social security contributions to maintain adequate funding for this program.

• The country seems to be divided on many topics, how will you work in cooperation with those on the other side of the aisle?

While recognizing that there is a significant divide in this country, it is important to remember that we also have a shared history, like needs, and the same desire to provide a safe and secure future for our families. To cooperate with the other side of the aisle, as well as factions within our groups, we must isolate the common interests to start the process and then work on the persuasion, salesmanship, and occasional arm twisting to be completely successful, remembering that sometimes we will only get the common ground items through and to remain positive while working to advance the rest of an agenda.



• How can Congress help open up the economy while protecting small businesses and workers?

Federal spending and burdensome regulations must be rolled back. Taxes must continue to be reduced to allow workers and businesses to keep more of the money that they earn. Expansion of free market economic opportunity zones and reduced taxes will facilitate job creation and entrepreneurial opportunities. I fully support school choice and enabling any federal education dollars to follow the student's education needs with options of apprenticeship and entrepreneurial training programs as well as for trade schools and apprenticeship programs. I do not support expanding H-1B Visa programs that take good jobs from grads.


• What types of things can Congress do to help protect the environment, in particular, Michigan?


Addressing PFAS contamination is job 1 when it comes to our environment. It is a widespread environmental crisis that must be fully identified and addressed. This is a shared responsibility of government and private enterprise through either willful neglect or ignorance. Large scale clean-up legislation is required with government as well as responsible private industries sharing the costs.

• What ideas do you have in helping to calm tensions and address the issue of racial inequalities?

Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard has proposed a comprehensive police reform policy that has not received enough support in Lansing or Washington. I fully support his program and will push for it in when elected. I do not believe that there is systemic racism in this country, however, I do believe that federal anti-poverty programs have a 50-year history of failure and the unintended consequence of expanding economic disparity that will require more than the government's getting out of the way to resolve. The real cure is a vibrant economy that creates jobs, income and opportunity. School choice with options that focus on trades and life skills need to be supported for a long-term solution. Economic opportunity zones will create business and job opportunities and reduce regulations that are barriers to creating businesses and entrepreneurial opportunities in low income areas.


• Are you in favor of a second stimulus payment?

Businesses and individuals that have been negatively impacted while required by the government to shut down or reduce operations are entitled to be compensated by the government, at the very least in an amount that enables them to remain in business and support their families during and following the designated emergency.


• How should the federal government address the issues surrounding COVID-19? National mask-wearing, increased testing, etc.

The federal government is responsible to provide prompt and accurate information regarding the virus, make recommendations to the states based on the wide range of data available regarding the impact of the virus on our society. The government is also responsible for restoring the nations emergency supply inventory and projecting potential future needs. The federal government is not and should not be attempting to mandate one size fits all requirements and restrictions to the varied needs of 50 states. The government is and should be assisting private industry in developing and distributing necessary testing and treatments as quickly as responsibly possible. The COVID-19 pandemic has made us painfully aware of the need to make preparedness a higher priority, starting with responding to Chinese officials' threats of withholding medications with expediting the domestic production of pharmaceuticals

Amy Slepr, Green Party candidate

• Why are you running for this seat/seeking re-election?

I am running for U. S. House of representatives because the people need relief from all the burdens this pandemic and rioting that has occurred, have caused. Our voices need to be heard on The Hill.

• In your opinion, what do you believe are the core responsibilities of the office you are seeking?

My primary responsibility to the people is to amplify their voices on Capitol Hill. Secondly, I would be introducing bills that support District 4’s needs, and vote for the peoples’ best interests Thirdly, I would be assisting people of District 4 with their appropriate government benefits such as Veterans and the Elderly with VA benefits and Social Security benefits.

• What do you believe are the biggest issues facing the country? With this in mind, what will be your plan to address at least one of these issues?

Healthcare by far is the most problematic issue in America today. We need Universal Healthcare!! Universal Health should include Mental Health Services, Dental, Hearing, Prescriptions including Medical Marijuana, Rehabilitation and Optical services.

Another issue is bigotry and discrimination against people of color, LGBTQ+, and Women. I despise the term “racism‘. We are all one race, the human race. But the discrimination is against anything different, not just color and we just need to get along and stop killing and fighting with each other over nonsense. Everyone has rights, we just need give unmerciful penalties to those that violate those rights.

• How can Congress help to address the health care issues facing the people in this country? How can it be made affordable?

Universal Healthcare is necessary especially during a pandemic. Cut the exorbitant military budget in half. Even at 50% we would still have the largest budget in the world by hundreds of billions of dollars. That would leave plenty of money for Universal Healthcare.

• How can Congress help to address the issues surrounding student loans in this country?

Make College free and forgive all student loans and give tuition back to anyone who paid in off their student loans in the last 20 years.


• How can Congress find solutions that will keep Social Security intact?

Follow Canada’s lead. They have an excellent Social Security system that works. www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/102714/what-are-differences-between-canada-pension-plans-cpp-and-social-security-benefits.asp

• The country seems to be divided on many topics, how will you work in cooperation with those on the other side of the aisle?

Negotiation and compromise, when necessary, are key strengths when discussing issues.

• How can Congress help open up the economy while protecting small businesses and workers?


Heavily tax corporations that send their jobs overseas and use that money to stimulate small businesses and provide start up grants for potential businesses.

• What types of things can Congress do to help protect the environment, in particular, Michigan?



Grow Hemp to replace use of plastics and other petroleum based products. www.hempbizjournal.com/hot-consumer-products-made-from-hemp.

• What ideas do you have in helping to calm tensions and address the issue of racial inequalities?


Ensure justice for those that have been wronged. Write and submit bills protecting citizens from hate crimes.

• Are you in favor of a second stimulus payment?

Absolutely! We should be receiving stimulus payments of $2,000/ month for all citizens during this difficult time.


• How should the federal government address the issues surrounding COVID-19? National mask-wearing, increased testing, etc. 

Our health is a priority, not a game. We should be properly informed. If the experts don’t know, then they shouldn’t make things up. If they do know, then tell us the truth.

Cadillac News

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