US Rep. Gary Peters, is running for the US Senate seat being vacated by Carl Levin in 2014. He is seen with State Rep. candidate Aaryn Richard.

Between Ourselves: State Rep. Candidate Aaryn Richard

Aaryn Richard is running for State Representative in Michigan's 85th House District, representing Owosso, Durand and Shiawassee Township. He is one of five openly gay candidates for state level legislative seats running in 2014. Richard is a graduate of Central Michigan and also earned his M.F.A. in in creative writing and poetry from Colorado State University. He is an alum of the Center for Progressive Leadership's Candidate and Campaign Manager training program and he served several administrative positions with Congresswoman Betsy Markey in Colorado. Richard serves the Shiawassee County Department of Human Services as an eligibility specialist, where he's had the opportunity to learn about some of the needs within his community and to help people find the resources they need. His website, which will launch in February, is

1 What made you decide to run for State Rep.?

I have always had a sense of duty and service toward the community in which I live. That is a huge motivating factor in my deciding to run. I think, though, the greatest motivation behind my run is the sense of deep disappointment I, along with many in my community, feel in our current leadership. Our problems are myriad, and the solutions require bold, fresh thinking - not politics as usual, and definitely not status quo public relations spin. I am running to be part of the change I want to see in Michigan's leadership.

2 What do you feel are the biggest issues facing our state?

First and foremost jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs. We come from hardy stock; people who desire purpose-driven lives. When I say jobs, though, I mean living-wage jobs that can sustain our families. But to get those jobs, we have to take the first step: Reinvest in our K-12 public education, as well as our technical and trade schools, community colleges and universities. Good jobs come to highly skilled workforces. Our highly skilled workforces will then help us build a new, green, sustainable economy. If I were to boil the issues to three salient points: Education, living-wage jobs, and a renewable economy.

3 Do you have any specific projects or legislation that you want to work on?

I believe that we can solve many of our problems through co-operation. The projects before us are incredibly clear and happen to be within the realm of the plausible, not just pipe dreams. Take our infrastructure, for instance. I think we can all agree that the very basics - our roads, bridges, the ways we sustain commerce - need overhaul. If you're asking me for a legislative wish-list, I'd begin work on making Michigan elections clean: Public campaign financing, a non-partisan re-districting board, to name two specifics. I'd like to work on amending the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include the LGBT community. There's so much to do, and the window in which to complete the work is finite.

4 Who do you think is your toughest competition?

I'd say the greatest competition I have is our current legislature and the decisions they continue to make that are hurting working Michigan families. It seems the current legislative majority is hell-bent on working for special interests, rather than working for the people who elected them. I'm more concerned with the issues we are having with our economy; how the State Legislature continues to defund education; and how we continue to defund infrastructure.

5 Do you have any LGBT specific issues that you hope to work on?

I hope that in some measure, getting elected will take care of the largest problem: We need LGBT representatives at the table. I believe the quote goes, "If you're not at the table, then you're often on the menu."

6 What have been some of your biggest accomplishments in politics?

I've been a champion for my community. Service always trumps the scoring of political wins. In that regard, I've been working on the front lines, helping those with the greatest need in my community. Helping families to step out of poverty and into full, sustained employment has to be my greatest victory.

7 Have you experienced any discrimination, harassment or negativity being out?

I'm am honored daily by the integrity and character of the people I wish to serve. I live an open and honest life, which means that I've never hidden from who I am, or from my seven-year-long relationship. I think people care more deeply about what their next leader has done with his life and what he wants to do than with whom he lives his life.

8 How old are you and where did you grow up?

I was born near the end of the Carter Administration; I'll say that. And if I say that my first political memory was sitting on my father's lap, watching Reagan take the oath of office, does that date me? I grew up in a rural town, Vassar, which is a farming town nestled between the manufacturing cities of Saginaw and Flint.

9 Who has inspired you in your political career?

That's an incredible question. I admire those leaders who are driven by service. We have those kinds of leaders here, like Rashida Tlaib. I've also worked for some incredible people, like former Congresswoman Betsy Markey of the Colorado 4th. Serving in her district office provided a wealth of experience, not to mention the vantage point of watching a stateswoman who is committed to public service. I think the most inspiring people to my political career are those who have served and done the heavy lifting to get good folks elected. I have nurtured brilliant friendships with people who are deeply concerned with and committed to Michigan's bright future.

10 Anything else we should let people know?

My campaign will officially launch in mid-February. My team and I are already working hard, laying the groundwork for this exciting campaign. I am eager to continue the great conversations I am having about our state's future, and I am committed to working hard to earn the respect, trust, and vote of the people of the district.

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