Arts & Entertainment
Rudy Serra, State Representative Candidate
Originally printed 12/12/2013 (Issue 2150 - Between The Lines News)
Ferndalian Rudy Serra is running for State Representative for the 27th District, which includes Berkley, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Oak Park, Pleasant Ridge and Royal Oak Twp. There will be a primary on Aug. 5, 2014 and a general election Nov. 4, 2014.
1 What made you decide to run for State Rep?
People need someone in government on their side. I decided to run because I have a proven record of hard work and successful leadership creating good private sector jobs, supporting LGBT rights, economic justice, quality public education, environmental protection and the interests of children, women and working families. Inexperience in Lansing has made many of our problems worse. I am the only candidate in the race with background in both law and government.
2 What do you feel are the biggest issues facing our state?
The biggest issue is jobs. Our unemployment rate is still above the national average at over nine percent. Michigan is one of only four states in the nation with no tax incentives for job creation, investment, or research and development.
Lansing needs to stop the union busting and concentrate on getting people back to work. We should be investing in repairing our public infrastructure and in fully funding public education. Nearly 40 percent of our public University graduates leave to find jobs. We need to encourage job growth and to attract high-end employers. We need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage, and we need to buy Michigan products and use Michigan services.
3 Do you have any specific projects or legislation that you want to work on?
I want to repeal the lame-duck union busting laws rammed through by the Republicans. I want to make sure that all of our public schools are fully funded and expanded to include pre-school education and college courses. I want to repeal the "Gross Indecency" and "Crimes Against Nature" statutes and amend The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity. I want to amend the Michigan Environmental Protection Act so that any person can once again go to court to stop the poisoning of our air and water. We need a Consumer Protection Act that applies to businesses, whether or not they are licensed. I want to end term limitations, and I want to make registering to vote and casting a ballot easier. There are so many vital issues facing our state that you should review my website at http://Vote4RudySerra.com.
4 Who do you think is your toughest competition thus far?
My toughest competition is voter apathy. We have around 70,000 voters in the 27th District, but less than 20 percent of them vote in primary elections. Too many voters think they can't make a difference or that all the candidates are the same. I want those voters to know that I will listen to their concerns and that I am committed to being their voice in Lansing. I've experienced loss, hardship and discrimination, and I know what that's like. I was raised by a divorced mom who struggled with the same workplace inequality that many women still face. I cared for elderly parents, one of whom died under hospice care in my home. I know the challenges faced by people with disabilities and families who struggle to stay together despite illness and aging.
5 Do you have any LGBT specific issues that you hope to work on?
Absolutely! Like I said, I want to amend Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act so that it protects LGBT people by adding "sexual orientation" and "gender identity." I want to repeal our obsolete anti-gay criminal laws that we still have on the books even after the U.S. Supreme Court declared them to be unconstitutional. I want to continue the fight for marriage equality and adoption laws that respect all families. I want to decriminalize HIV status, and promote the best public health practices that effectively fight dangerous diseases. Our "big-brother" Republican Secretary of State who is denying transgender people accurate birth certificates and other vital papers needs to be stopped.
6 What have been some of your biggest accomplishments in politics?
I served as Judge on the third busiest trial court in the nation. I wrote the proposal and collected most of the petition signatures for Ferndale's first Civil Rights Ordinance back in 1991. I led the effort to get Justice Marilyn Kelly elected to the Michigan Supreme Court. As Chairman of the Executive Clemency Advisory Council for the State of Michigan, I helped correct injustice and increase the efficiency of our corrections system. I proved that I have the courage to do justice even when it isn't popular.
I helped to create one of the most successful economic development projects in Michigan, bringing hundreds of well-paid, private sector jobs right here to our district. While I served as County Commissioner, I repealed the "local jail fee" which saved cities in this district hundreds of millions of dollars over the past two decades. I wrote, sponsored, and passed the ordinance that requires Oakland County to buy American made products and I did these things while the Republicans were in control of the county commission.
7 What is FernCare and why is that project important to you?
FernCare is a free medical clinic located in Ferndale on E Nine Mile Road. It's an asset to all our communities, and I am very lucky to serve as Vice-Chairman of the board. The clinic has provided free medical services to more than 1,500 of our neighbors from all over Michigan who do not qualify for Medicaid, have no insurance and have no other source of medical care. You do not have to be a resident of Oakland County to qualify for services at FernCare. Our services are provided by highly qualified, dedicated volunteers. I believe that feeding the hungry, defending the oppressed, helping the poor and healing the sick give a meaning and purpose to life that transcends material success. As an attorney, I've been a voice for people who might not otherwise have a voice. As a FernCare supporter, I can provide care for people who might not otherwise have care.
8 On the 36th District Court you have a reputation for clearing cases at a phenomenal rate, often stepping in to clear the docket for the other judges as well. What drove you to be so efficient and how were you able to do that without sacrificing the quality of your work?
When you're doing something you love, it doesn't seem like work. I have a passion for justice, and I love learning new things. The job of a judge is never boring. Every case I heard was unique. When you enjoy what you're doing, it's easy to do it well.
As a State Representative I will have the opportunity to actually change the law instead of just applying it. We need lawmakers who understand what it's like to enforce the laws that inexperienced legislators pass with no idea of how they will impact average people.
9 Who has inspired you in your political career?
My inspiration comes from too many sources to mention them all. My father was a U.S. Army Airborne Ranger in Special Forces in World War 2, Korea and Vietnam. He was a combat foot soldier. He was the only infantryman in history to be awarded The China War Memorial. The most important influence in my life was that he admired me almost as much as I admired him.
Judge Donna Milhouse of the 36th District Court taught me (long before I was ever a Judge) to look every person in the eye, smile, and say "good morning" to them by name. Justice Marilyn Kelly of the Michigan Supreme Court taught me that one can be true to their principles and also maintain intellectual integrity and acute legal analysis.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a modern figure who showed me that there are values worth dying for, just as Jesus of Nazareth had proved centuries before. My grandmother predicted that John F. Kennedy would be murdered months before it happened "because he wants to help the poor people" and, again, the lesson was that there are principles worth dedicating your life to - and giving your life for. I am inspired by people with the courage to do what's right even when it isn't popular.
10 Anything else we should let readers know?
I didn't come from a privileged background. My family members included union members and service members and relatives who suffered unemployment and underemployment. I worked my way through school and benefited from government programs like work-study and employment training, many of which no longer exist. I believe in personal responsibility, and I also believe that government has an important role in providing education, protecting equality and promoting opportunity. My vocation is advocacy. A State Representative's role is to be an advocate. I'm committed to doing my best to help as many people as possible without forgetting where I came from. Winning any election is a team effort and I need your help. Please visit my web site at vote4rudyserra.com to learn more and let me know how I can help you. Also, please consider volunteering or contributing to help me achieve that goal.
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