U.S. Rep. Gary Peters makes campaign stop in Lansing

By Sam Inglot
Sen. Gretchen Whitmer and U.S. Rep. Gary Peters at Decker\'s Coffee on Washington Square Sam Inglot/City Pulse

Senate hopeful, joined by state Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, discusses his priorities

Thursday, May 2 — U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Hills, said one of his biggest priorities in Congress has been helping out small businesses, which will continue if he is elected to the U.S. Senate.

“My real focus has been on small businesses, like the one we’re in today,” Peters said inside Decker’s Coffee on Washington Square this afternoon. “That’s really the engine of growth for the Michigan economy. This is where the jobs are created and the concerns of people on Main Street are more important than what you’ll hear on Wall Street.”

On Wednesday, Peters announced his candidacy for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Carl Levin, who is retiring after six terms in the position.

For his “Michigan First” listening tour, Peters — who represents the eastern half of Detroit as well as Grosse Pointe, Hamtramck, Southfield and Pontiac — will be touring the state talking to citizens for the next 18 months leading up to the election in 2014.

“You can’t be an effective advocate unless you’re out in the community,” Peters said. “Too many folks in politics do a lot of talking and not enough listening.”

Peters, who has been in Congress since 2009, said his main focus in the Senate would be “jobs and the economy” with an angle on helping small businesses. He said he wants to get Michigan back into manufacturing prominence and fight for education and retirement benefits for the middle class. He also said he wants to “help people stay in their homes” through mortgage reform.

In 2010, Peters helped write the Small Business Jobs Act, which helped secured loans for small businesses across the country. In Michigan, the legislation helped small businesses to tune of $689 million in loans, according to Peters’ website.

“As a result of that, already several thousand jobs have been created in our state — but we have more to do,” he said.

Answering a question from the media, Peters said he is opposed to the emergency financial managers being imposed on financially struggling cities around the state. He said he would rather have elected officials who can be held accountable by the public making the tough decisions.

State Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, joined Peters today and said he has her “enthusiastic support.”

Whitmer said Levin leaves some “enormous shoes to fill,” but that everyone in the party is “very excited for (Peters’) candidacy.”

In 2002, Peters ran for state attorney general but lost to former Attorney General Mike Cox.

Peters was in Flint Wednesday to announce candidacy. The next stop on his tour is Friday in Grand Rapids.