Benzonia resident running for Democratic nomination in 35th Senate District.

March 17, 2018

Mike Talliard

Benzonia resident running for Democratic nomination in 35th Senate District.


By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

Mike Talliard of Benzonia has recently announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the Michigan 35th Senate district seat, which includes Mason and Manistee counties. He will run against Cary Urka of Brethren in the August primary election. Talliard filed his nominating petition on Feb. 26.

The 35th Senate District is currently represented by Darwin Booher (R-Evart), who has served the maximum number of terms allowed.

Talliard, 35, is an economic consultant who also works occasionally as an adjunct professor at Central Michigan University, he said. He and his wife, Ashley, have been married for 11 years and have four children, ages 9 (twins), 7, and 5. The Talliards are originally from southeastern Michigan but more recently lived in Omaha, Neb. They moved to Benzie County five years ago.

“We moved to northern Michigan from Omaha, Neb. and we asked ourselves, if we could move anywhere in the world where would we want to go? Northern Michigan was top of that list. While in Omaha, Ashley served in the U.S. Air Force while Mike served in the U.S. Army Reserves.

“People started asking us why would we move up here. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. They would say that there are no jobs. I thought, ‘Are you kidding? There’s nothing but potential here. This is a fantastic area.’”

As an economic consultant, Talliard said he has spent the past 15 years working for businesses, large and small, non-profit companies, government agencies, and politicians. “Over the years I’ve gotten really good at helping organizations to solve the really tough problems, to improve their operations, make them more competitive with the market.”

He said he became frustrated working with politicians because they tended to “ignore the bits that they don’t like. That’s not how reality works.”

He said he was approached by the Benzie County Democrats to consider running for the Democratic nominee of the 35th Senate District.

“For a very long time I’ve been kind of disenchanted with politics and politicians in general. I had been thinking that maybe sometime I should run and do it myself. It’s about time I took things into my own hands and make sure government is functioning properly. I will find efficiencies, overlapping operations, look for opportunities to automate when we can, cut government spending but actually make the programs function better, like they were meant to in the first place.”

If Talliard wins the Democratic nomination in August for the four-year seat, he faces an uphill battle in the 12 county district. The past two elections, Republican Darwin Booher has won the election by an over 59% majority (59.5% in 2014 against Democrat Glenn Lottie, and 62.8% in 2010 against Democrat Roger Dunigan and Libertarian Allitta Hren. During the 2010 election, the Democrat only received 34.4% of the vote). His opponent in the primary, Cary Urka, had previously run in the 2016 primary election for the 101st House of Representatives seat as a Republican, and lost to Curt VanderWall.

Talliard discussed some of the topics that will likely come up in the next legislature.

When asked about Michigan’s no-fault vehicle insurance laws, he said: “Well, to be totally honest, I guess I grew up with it and I got used to it that way. I like it.”

The Legislature has been attempting to reform no-fault insurance and has often had bi-partisan support.

“I’ll be totally honest, I think the entire insurance industry needs to be reformed. I’m no big fan of the insurance industry. I’m not saying it’s perfect. There are ways we need to address the difference in costs. With the fundamental philosophy behind the no-fault insurance, their hearts were in the right place for a lot of respects. It’s not functioning real good.”

Talliard said Michigan’s infrastructure needs will need to be addressed. He said new technologies need to be adapted to fix the roads and that the lack of freeways in the 35th District make it difficult to attract business.

Freeways that run through counties in the district include US 31, US 131, and US 127 and I-75.

The 35th State Senate District includes: Benzie, Crawford, Kalkaska, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee, Mason, Missaukee, Ogemaw, Osceola, Roscommon, Wexford counties.

Talliard also discussed the need to reform education. He said when he lived in Nebraska, his children attended magnet schools, a public school offering special instruction and programs not available elsewhere, designed to attract a more diverse student body from throughout a school district.

“I think this model will help resolve the underlying model that led to that structure, by engaging students and making sure they will thrive in that environment. The more kids we have in a particular school, the more funding they get per student. At that point, once they start graduating and mentoring in the work force, they are more effective within the work force. You will start to see that the long term return on our investment that we can use it to improve the school system as a whole.”

When asked about reforming Michigan’s school funding formula, especially addressing the inequalities between funding of rural schools versus schools in metro Detroit, Talliard did not specifically answer the question.

Talliard added that if elected, he would donate a portion of his $72,685 a year salary back to the people of the district (the salary would still have to be taxed).

“I don’t want this to become a focal point of my campaign, but I am putting my money where my mouth is on this one. This is not just lip service that people have come to expect from politicians. The median income in the 35th District is roughly $46,000 a year. I look at what a senator get paid and ask how is that fair. By what performance base metric do they justify earning so much.

“I pledge to donate $25,000 of my salary every year I’m in office as grants to young people. That been a big deal. Everybody is worried about keeping young people in the area.”

This story is copyrighted © 2018, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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