Transparency, accountability, and availability. These three values are what Senator Mark Huizenga aims to embody in his work in Lansing.
One simple, but critical, way that legislators can demonstrate these values is to show up for meetings. Huizenga did just that when he joined a recent legislative coffee hour at the Special Olympics Michigan Unified Sports & Inclusion Center. The engaging conversation that took place touched on topics ranging from auto insurance to housing.
Huizenga entered public life by joining the City of Walker’s planning commission, where he distributed community development block grant funding. This process taught Huizenga the importance of being an effective steward of public resources. Huizenga continued using his knowledge of accounting and finance when he was elected to Walker’s city commission and later became the mayor. During his time municipal government, Huizenga developed an interest in transportation issues. He partnered with the Rapid on transit options and worked on Grand Valley State University’s Laker Line.
By the time he joined the Michigan Legislature, Huizenga had developed an evidence-based approach to public policy. He will consider to any challenge his constituents bring up or idea his colleagues propose. Workable solutions must be tested with rigorous analysis and backed by data before being approved.
This meticulous approach has defined much of Huizenga’s recent work in Lansing. During the conversation, Huizenga discussed how higher education dollars were often spent in a way that was not equitable. As a member of the School Aid & Department of Education, Huizenga worked on finding a better way to fund the state’s colleges and universities.
According to Huizenga, the best ideas often arise when constituents bring up proposals. Huizenga’s support for the Special Olympics Michigan Unified Sports & Inclusion Center came about when he learned about the project from people in his district. The building holds a special place in Huizenga’s life because his nephew participated in Special Olympics Michigan programming.
As an advocate for people with disabilities, Huizenga believes in creating a more inclusive environment for everyone and creating more accessible transportation systems. He also believes in increasing access to mental health resources and strongly supports institutions like Pine Rest.
When asked about what it is like to work in a polarizing political climate, Huizenga spoke to his record as an independent thinker, an open communicator, and someone committed to providing excellent service. He used some humor in his response, too.
“I don’t always agree with the GOP, Democrats, or even my wife, but I will always listen,” Huizenga said.
A big thank you goes out to Huizenga for joining us for a great conversation. The team looks forward to hosting another legislative coffee hour with Senator Winnie Brinks.
More information about Huizenga’s work can be found at www.senatormarkhuizenga.com.