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Gretchen Driskell, Courtesy | Facebook

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.”