The Spinal Column: Rep. Stevens visits Highland

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Just six weeks into her new job as U.S. Representative for Michigan’s 11th District, Haley Stevens shared her thoughts and experiences at a town hall meeting, attended by about 150 people.

Energized by her election to the role of co-president of her freshman class, Stevens spoke with optimism about building unity across party lines and finding common ground. She joked about getting lost with members of her freshman class on the way to the House of Representatives, and trying to attend the funeral of former Congressman John Dingle. A group of legislators were aboard a military plane headed to Detroit, but could not land due to hazardous weather conditions.

“We started to run low on fuel, so Speaker Nancy Pelosi made the call to return to Washington and led us in prayer.” Stevens called that a moment of unity.

The congresswoman addressed a wide rage of topics, from immigration and the opioid epidemic, to climate change, gun control and underfunded schools, adding that as a member of the committee on Education and Labor, “we will be calling in [Secretary of Education] Betsy DeVos.”

On the topic of raising the minimum wage, Stevens asked, “Should you be working a full-time job, making minimum wage and be living in poverty? We need to grow our middle class.”

Stevens pledged to assemble to the people of her district, inviting them to call her office or make an appointment to see her in Washington.

“During my campaign I was the listener-in-chief and I will continue to listen,” Stevens told the crowd. “I want you to send me information that you find and don’t assume that I already know. I need to know what you are thinking in order to represent you.”

Stevens’ Michigan headquarters will be in Livonia, but her team will provide “pop up offices” around the district from time to time. Local residents will be invited to meet with her team to resolve problems like irregular mail delivery and other federal issues.

Among questions from the audience, the congresswoman was asked about the large number of candidates running for president. She drew a round of laughter with her comparison to a horse race.

“Some will move ahead and others will return to the barn,” said Stevens. “I am committed to putting a new president in the White House.”

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