Democrat Gretchen Driskell is running against incumbent Rep. Tim Walberg, R‑M.I., for the third time in five years, in hopes of flipping the seat for Michigan’s 7th district in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Driskell, who comes from a military background and has a son who is a naval aviator, said she knows patriotism well. She said she is running because she loves the country, Michigan, and the people of her state.
“I think we deserve better representation, and I’ve heard that from many people,” Driskell said. “I worked for the two previous Congress members, one was Republican and one Democrat. And this isn’t a partisan issue.”
If elected, Driskell said she would first focus on improving the Affordable Care Act, an area she believes Walberg has failed to work on.
“Folks are still struggling. I think he’s really out of touch with the average person that’s just trying to put food on the table and a roof over their heads for their family, and I talk to people like that every day,” Driskell said. “The most immediate thing that would have the greatest impact is lowering prescription drug costs, making them more affordable. There’s already legislation that has passed out of the house, and the Senate and the president have not done anything with it. Hopefully, that will get taken care of.”
Driskell stressed that while she represents the state as whole and many different areas, one of her desires is to focus on Hillsdale, an area that she believes is struggling.
“You can see, Hillsdale has the lowest per capita income out of the seven counties. It’s really struggling and struggling economically,” Driskell said. “We have a lot of children still living in poverty. We have not come back sufficiently in this district from the recession last decade.”
The next most important issue to Driskell, however, is one many may not consider.
“The thing I’ve been working on for over a decade is high-speed internet in rural communities,” Driskell said. “Fundamentally, the internet should be considered a utility, not completely market-driven.”
Driskell also stressed that she would also like to address mental health issues and drug addiction— problems she thinks have grown during the pandemic.
Additionally, Driskell said she hopes to address the high morbidity rate of middle-aged men, on which she wrote a paper in 2018. “That’s a problem that’s been going on for quite a while, and nobody wants to talk about it,” she said. “We need to address that.”
Former Rep. Joe Schwartz, R‑M.I., has known Driskell for over 20 years and said he believes she is the best candidate in Michigan.
“She is willing to listen to both sides. She has a willingness to do what is right, irrespective of which way her party or the other party is leaning,” Schwartz said. “That is important, and that’s one of the things I’ve always liked about Gretchen. She takes an issue on its merits and discusses issues on their merits. And she will vote on issues on their merits.”
In 2012, Driskell won a seat representing rural Washtenaw County in the Michigan House of Representatives, and her experience with state government is what her colleagues believe to be one of her best assets.
“I can’t stress this enough: she has local government experience, and she has state government experience,” Schwartz said. “If you bring that with you in Washington, it will make you a much, much more effective member of Congress because so much of what congress does has to do with its relationship with state government and local governments.”
Additionally, Driskell’s time as mayor of Saline for 14 years gives her experience with local government, as well as experience working closely with communities, according to her campaign. On her website, she states that the people of Michigan think Washington is broken, and that Walburg has been missing the mark for the last 10 years.
Finally, Driskell’s call to service all comes back to what has been a value of her family for so long: patriotism.
“I’ve had an American flag on my front porch for the 33 years I have lived in my house.” Driskell said.
“That’s just what I grew up with.. And I think that’s one of the things here in Michigan.”