The Aug. 7 primary election is drawing closer every day, but how much do you really know about the names on the ballot?
Patch is interviewing candidates running in the Aug. 7 primary, including the five candidates for the 40th District's seat in the Michigan House of Representatives.
The seat is currently filled by Rep. Chuck Moss (R-Birmingham), who is unable to run for re-election this year due to term limits ().
, the 40th district will be composed of Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, and a portion of West Bloomfield.
Running for the spot are , , and .
Democrat Dorian Coston of West Bloomfield will essentially challenge the winner of the Republican primary in the Nov. 6 general election. Though unopposed on the primary ballot, Coston is not leaving much to chance and campaigned in earnest during the weeks leading up to the Aug. 7 vote.
“I’m really excited about this," he told members of the during a recent meeting when competition for liquor licenses was discussed. "(Trustee Neal) Barnett talked about competition, working through things to find the best possible person for the job. That's what it's all about.“
Family: Coston is married with a wife named Melinda, who works as a nurse. He claims that she "sees firsthand why it is important to have coverage and for people to care for their loved ones as well as care for themselves." Coston is also close with his parents, who taught the "value of commitment and public service."
Education: Coston earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona at Tucson, a Paralegal Certificate from Oakland Community College, and recently added an MHRM from Keller Graduate School.
Occupation: Coston is a certified paralegal. Coston works for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office Special Operations and Safe School Initiative. He also has experience as a small business owner in environment sales/advertising and as a public school teacher.
Residence: Coston has lived in West Bloomfield since 2009.
Other activities: Coston coaches girls basketball at the Jewish Community Center of West Bloomfield and is active in Parent Teacher Associations, having served as Vice President on two different boards. He has also volunteered as a student staff attorney with the Salvation Army William Booth Legal Aid Clinic, served as Vice Chairman of Progressives for Councilman Gil Hill, and worked as a coordinator with Each One Reach One.
Why are you running for state representative?
Coston said he wants to work for people by focusing his efforts on the education of children.
"I have seen why government must value getting our kids educated so they can create and fill jobs," Coston wrote to Patch. "Therefore, we have to focus on education. "The states that focus on education are now leading in jobs."
Coston points to his experience as a lifelong student as well as an educator as key to framing his understanding of state funding for schools and the importance of keeping paraprofessionals in classrooms. He explains this as not merely a problem in Detroit, rather one that stretches "across the board and across county lines."
Coston added that he hopes to bring in efficient government policies and practices to aid small business owners in Southeast Michigan.
What are new ideas you would bring to the position/district?
Coston hopes to expand public and private programs dedicated to education.
Coston said he would encourage public and private ventures to expand the Box Top Rewards Program to include others items like big ticket purchases of clothing and party packages. He would also push to expand literacy programs into the home, where educators could visit students and their parents to teach reading.
"Our schools need to be equipped to spot literacy challenged students early, and more importantly provide the support those students need to succeed," Coston said. "In addition, increased access to literacy programs for adults is essential if we want to seriously address the systemic issues at play here."
Coston added that he would like to incorporate financial literacy as a core curriculum requirement in K-12 public education.
What do you think are the biggest issues facing Michigan?
Early childhood education and local public schools are a focus of legislation which Coston hopes to champion. He said that he hopes to raise an increase of 10 percent of current funds every year to improve early childhood programs in public schools.
Meanwhile, he said, he hopes to make post-secondary and continued education more affordable. A comprehensive strategy is needed to assist younger, capable people who want to work but have been adversely affected by the recession; in addition, returning veterans should be able to easily find well-paying positions, according to Coston.
If elected, Coston hopes to change business in the state by increasing the minimum wage and expanding the state Microloan Fund Program, currently offered to privately held Michigan startups and small businesses.
Who else is running? Meet the candidates for the Michigan House of Representatives Patch has interviewed so far: