This is an interview State Representative Jon Switalski of the 28th Michigan House District:
What is unique about protecting your district’s resources?
My district has a large manufacturing base that is vital to the local economy, however we also have to ensure that we are protecting our natural resources. Michigan as a whole is a manufacturing based economy with many former manufacturing sites closed. These pose many environmental hazards that will take years and millions of dollars to clean up for future use. This is why air, water quality and land use cannot be ignored in the quest to create more jobs. It is a balancing act that many state and local officials have to address.
Locally, the Red Run Creek, a branch of the Clinton River, runs through my district into Lake St. Clair. Water quality is very important to Michigan, with the Great Lakes being our greatest resource. As a State Representative, I am always working to protect our water resources from pollution, invasive species, and inefficient water use.
Are you worried about the effects of climate change on the children of your district?
I am worried about the effects that climate change will have, not only on my nephews, but all the other children that reside in my district. Climate change is happening, and future generations will be the ones who will be paying for our current inaction. Climate change is a result of increased temperatures, more severe weather, volatile precipitation patterns, and many other problems that leaders need to consider when making public policy.
I have major concerns about the increased health risks attributed to climate change that are affecting our children. The cost of living will rise dramatically for future generations, and more lives will be lost due to extreme weather. People will have to pay more for insurance due to severe weather and food could cost more due to droughts. Much more work needs to be done to combat climate change.
Why is a bipartisan effort so important to you when working on issues of air quality?
Climate change and pollution truly affect everyone, Democrats and Republicans. By working in a bipartisan manner, legislation has a much better chance of getting support and being signed into law. I have been a strong defender of the environment and proponent for increasing our air quality standards, however I cannot get a bill passed on my own. Members from the other side of the aisle need to understand the importance of these issues for real change to take effect.
Is there anything you’d like to share that is important for Moms Clean Air Force members to know?
I encourage Moms Clean Air Force members to get involved in the legislative process. Contact your local, state and federal representatives and share your thoughts on how important combating pollution and protecting our natural resources are. Make sure your representatives know what your priorities are and how important these issues are to you and your family.
I would also recommend people to get involved and active in other ways. Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper on how more needs to be done to increase air quality. Also, volunteer in your local elections to ensure that the candidate who represents your values gets elected or run for office yourself. The groups that are polluting and harming our natural resources are very involved in the legislative process, and by getting involved yourself you can help with the fight.
State Representative Jon Switalski is a lifelong Warren resident who is representing the 28th Michigan House District, which covers Center Line and parts of Warren.