The Spinal Column

State senator and representative candidates vie for seats



There are a number of districts for state offices represented in the Lakes edition’s coverage area, in part because Commerce Township is divided into three different State Representative districts.

State Senator, 23rd District

Una Hepburn, a Democrat from Davisburg, is challenging incumbent Republican Jim Runestad, of White Lake, as he makes a bid for his second term in the newly-drawn Senate District 23 (covering Highland, South Lyon, Wixom, Commerce, Milford, White Lake, Clarkston, Springfield and Rose Township).

Why are you seeking office and what experience do you bring to the position?

Hepburn: Because I want to keep a strong Democratic presence in our state as well as federal government. We need people who are actually “in touch” with the average citizen and understand their real concerns.

I have a B.S in Political Science. I also worked for a company that did an ongoing PR campaign for the Oakland County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. I am also a mom, Woman, small business owner. Don’t underestimate the power and knowledge of Moms everywhere.

Runestad: About 14 years ago, I decided to run for the Oakland County commission to bring my smaller, more limited government and anti-government corruption philosophy to public office. I am running to continue that tradition and I’m proud to say my supporters have uniformly told me I have adhered to those principles.

I bring a very successful and effective legislative record in my run for my second term in the Michigan Senate. In addition to passing a Constitutional Amendment that protects the personal privacy of Michigan citizens, I have introduced, or sponsored, and have had passed a very large legislative agenda in the County commission, the House and now the Michigan Senate. I am very proud of the work I’ve done to protect our liberties, look out for our seniors, fight against all tax increases or crony capitalism, hold corrupt elected officials to account, and ensure our parents have a bigger voice on what’s happening in our education system.

Should you be elected, what are your top priorities?

Hepburn: Women’s Reproduction Rights. We received more than enough signatures to put this important bill on the ballot for November. Let the people choose, not just the few in power.

Gun Control. We need to ban assault weapons. Do more thorough background checks which include mental health evaluations, and never make it possible to purchase a gun and walk out the door the same day.

Infrastructure. Roads and Bridges have needed work for years. We are one of very few states that allow the double hauler type trucks. I am not against these but are these companies paying their share in taxes? Along with Amazon who probably have more vehicles on the road than any other company?

Education. We are losing teachers at a record rate. We need to increase pay and incentives and not privatize schools. And there should not be restrictions like banning books.

These are just some of the many issues that need attention.

Runestad: Without a doubt the most immediate concern, and one that I think will be with us for years, is the exploding, uncontrolled inflation the people in my district are facing. Although the President likes to blame this on Russia, the facts are that inflation and especially the gas price explosion occurred long before the Ukraine war. Unfortunately, with trillions upon trillions in irrational federal spending, we are going to have to tighten the spending belt dramatically to get inflation under control. We must also ensure election integrity, as almost all the bills passed by the Legislature which were designed to ensure election confidence have been vetoed by our Governor. We also need to get the politicization of the Michigan education system under control and return the power back to the parents and the teaching of parental values.

State Senator, 13th District

Neither Democrat Rosemary Bayer nor Republican Jason Rhines responded to multiple requests for information from The Spinal Column.

State Representative, 20th District

Albert Mansour, Republican

Why are you seeking office and what experience do you bring to the position? As a husband and a father of school-aged children, I share the same concerns of many families and many parents in our district. During COVID our lives were disrupted, including the way our schools operated and how our children learned. My family experienced those struggles first-hand, and were there, side-by-side, with all the other families in our district. As a parent, I have seen the impact that has had on our children and understand what these families have gone through.

For over a decade, my experience working for an automotive supplier led me to daily interactions with workers across all organizational levels. I have been fortunate to listen to the concerns of employees from trades workers to upper management when it comes to issues such as employment, labor, and manufacturing.

My path as a small business owner has led me to experience what many in our district are currently going through–from rising fuel cost, inflation, higher cost of groceries, a shortage of employees–we are feeling it in our district and across the state.

I have the background not only to listen to the concerns of the people of our district, but I have been there with them sharing the same concerns and experiences.

Should you be elected, what are your top priorities? Job growth and getting people back to work are top priorities for me. I am also focused on the rising rate of inflation and mitigating rising fuel costs.

No information was received from Democratic candidate Noah Arbit.

State Representative, 49th District

In this district, Republican incumbent Ann Bollin faces off with Democrat challenger Christina Kafkakis.

Why are you seeking office and what experience do you bring to the position?

Bollin: Because what goes on in Lansing does not stay in Lansing! I am running for re-election because we need people in Lansing who understand how decisions made at the Capitol impact hardworking Michigan families and businesses. As a community leader and volunteer, wife of a small business owner, mother of millennials, and member of the sandwich generation, I see first-hand on many fronts how those decisions affect us.

Throughout my two terms in the state House of Representatives, I have successfully navigated the Lansing landscape to ensure that the voices of those I represent are heard. I have made it a priority to continue to be active in the district, to work with and for those I represent, and believe the best solutions are found by and through the people.

Kafkakis: I was born and raised in the Flint area – my Grandfather was one of the original GM Sit-Down Strikers, and both my brother and my Dad are GM retirees. I attended Carman-Ainsworth High School and then graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science.

My husband and I moved to the district in 2001. We have four amazing kids who attend public schools, including one with an IEP and one with a 504 plan. I will fight for educators to use their expertise in the classrooms, to properly fund our public schools, and to pay our educators appropriately and competitively. I would like to see more support staff employed in our schools, including paraprofessionals, education assistants, and more.

I am running because I haven’t seen my values represented in the current leadership. I’m a wife and Mom of four kids, who attend public schools. As I mentioned, I’m a small business owner and long-time community advocate. I’m running because I have always encouraged my kids to “be the change you wish to see in the world” and feel it’s time for me to take my own advice to heart! Since I moved here two decades ago, I have not seen our local leaders making these issues that are important to me a priority.

Should you be elected, what are your top priorities?

Bollin: One of my top priorities coming to Lansing was to be a budget hawk and my committee assignments have enabled me to do that. I serve on Appropriations and several appropriations subcommittees including DHHS, General Government and Joint Capital Outlay, I chair the House Elections and Ethics Committee and was elected by my peers to serve as Assistant Majority Floor Leader. As a former clerk and Township board member, I understand how local government works and how the state budget impacts all we do.

My continued priorities include jobs and the economy; good educational opportunities with strong parental choices and involvement; a fiscally responsible state budget that fights inflation and puts more money back into the pockets of taxpayers; infrastructure; ethics reform; and fair, free, and secure elections.

I will serve the district with integrity, a strong fiscal conscience, and a continued commitment to serve those I represent.

Kafkakis: It is my goal to represent the voters of my district in a way that collaborates rather than encourage divisiveness.

I’m running in order to defend your privacy in healthcare decisions, protect our natural resources from polluters, invest in public education and skilled trades, build sustainable critical infrastructure, and ensure all worker’s rights to livable wages.

State Representative, 51st District

Sarah May-Seward, a Democrat from White Lake, is challenging Matt Maddock, the incumbent Republican from Milford who was first elected to the Michigan House of Representatives, District 44, in November 2018. After redistricting, the seat is now in District 51, comprised of Milford, Highland, White Lake and parts of Commerce and Springfield townships.

Maddock did not respond to multiple requests for information from The Spinal Column.

Why are you seeking office and what experience do you bring to the position?

May-Seward: I am running to represent my community in the Michigan House because we deserve a rep that cares about all of us, not just people that voted for them, and not just when election season comes around. I’m running because this is the community that raised me. It’s my turn to step up for them. I’m running because as a bartender and as a mom to a kid with disabilities, I don’t shy away from service, and hard work, and I certainly don’t turn my back when it comes to fighting to protect the people I serve.

Our community deserves nice things. We deserve clean water, sidewalks, community parks where our kids can play and we can meet our neighbors. We need a Representative who’s ready to work with the legislature, local township boards, and Oakland County Commissioners to bring services and community enhancing projects to our area. I won’t stop until the 51st District gets their fair share.

I am a life-long resident in our district. I grew up in Highland and Milford and my daughter and I are both proud Milford High School graduates. I currently live in White Lake with my husband (Nick), a firefighter in Hamtramck, my daughter (Gabbie), and our dogs, cats, pig, ducks, turkeys, and chickens.

I bar tend at the best little bar in the district! Working in our small-town watering hole that has so many regulars from all around our district has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Our customers have turned into friends, many of whom have become family, regardless of political party. All of us just take care of each other.

I currently sit on the Citizens Advisory Committee for Oakland County’s Neighborhood and Housing Development and am a member of the Oakland Community Health Network Board. I have been a Democratic precinct delegate in White Lake since 2018 and when COVID-19 shut down Michigan bars and restaurants I volunteered as the One Fair Wage Unemployment lead, helping tipped workers navigate Michigan’s UIA/PUA system.

Should you be elected, what are your top priorities?


1) Protecting abortion rights, reproductive healthcare, and privacy in medical care and our bedrooms

2) Protecting our rivers, lakes, and drinking water

3) Ending the absence of federal, state and county funded resources and services in our community

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