This site is meant to facilitate the upward flow of information to help our elected officials stay in touch with those they represent. Also as a means to help us (the voters) help our leaders lead.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Interview with Jay Riemersma

Interview with Jay Riemersma – Candidate for the 2nd Congressional Seat

The upcoming general election in 2010 and the Primaries are promising to be long, wild and wooly affairs, with several contentious races from top to bottom. Bottom Up Politics hopes to be able to help our readers learn about the candidates themselves who are running by what they are saying and doing through interviews such as this. Let candidates tell the voters what they stand for.

I hope to interview as many candidates as possible before the primaries, from the Townships on up to State wide candidates; also the US House Seat as well. This site is after all called “Bottom Up Politics”.

Before introducing our next interviewee, I want to make a point of saying where I stand at the time of this interview. I will simply say Positive, Negative, or Neutral. This may change as I along with my readers learn more through this process.
Our interview today is with Jay Riemersma who has filed and is running to be our next US Congressman from Michigan’s 2nd District. In this primary, I am neutral.


(Bottom UP) – Thank you Mr. Jay Riemersma for consenting to do this interview.

Reply – It's my pleasure, Bob. Thanks for the opportunity to share a little bit about who I am and what I believe, and thanks for your efforts to help inform and educate folks about what conservatism is, and why it works.

(Bottom UP) - Thank you also for inviting me to a luncheon prior to this with; Karen Buie, yourself and your campaign manager, Monday, June 22. During that wide ranging talk you had mentioned that in your meetings with voters across the district you had sensed a feeling of discontent towards elected officials. Can you elaborate upon this for the readers of Bottom Up Politics?

Reply - That's right, but I think discontent is an understatement. As I've crisscrossed the district listening to the concerns of business owners, party activists, and been involved in a few Tea Parties, I've heard the same thing time and again: our political leaders, are tone deaf. People are fed up with out of control spending, a punitive tax system, bailouts that look like payoffs to political cronies, and the indebtedness that we're leaving to our children. People feel like they don't have a voice because the officials they put in office to represent their values have compromised.

As you're well aware, Republicans aren't immune from this criticism. We've had brutal back to back election cycles in large measure because our leadership abandoned their principles. I think these conservatives of convenience have hurt the party more so than any liberal attack. I think there are a lot of people out there like me, who feel like their party left them behind.

The upside, of course, is that when you consider the growth of government, ballooning deficits, and the assault on our values, it's becoming abundantly clear to people that "change" is a runaway train headed for a cliff. Sounds nice in theory, but it makes a lousy philosophy of governance. People want substance, not gimmicks, and that means true conservatives have an opportunity to take back ground that has been lost in the culture and in our party.

(Bottom UP) – During our talk I also had brought up your lack of a congressional record from which perspective voters could see your positions on various issues. What have you to say to those who perceive this to be a drawback to your candidacy?

Reply – It's a good question. To those people I'd say two things: first look at our district's immediate history. Congressman Hoekstra had no legislative experience when he ran in 1992. He's become a highly respected leader in Congress and has represented his district well. His inexperience wasn't a barrier when it came to doing the right thing, and it won't be for me either.

Second, I think principles trump experience every time. In this primary we're talking about candidates whose "experience" includes raising taxes on businesses and families and using the tax code to pick which businesses win and which lose. If we're serious about reforming Washington, we've got to have an honest conversation about how to get it done. I think it's unlikely that exporting Lansing's problems to Washington will have much effect.

One of my favorite politicians, Mike Pence has a great saying: "I'm a Christian, a conservative and a Republican. In that order." That's true of me as well. I'm not ashamed of what I believe and I have the strength of my convictions. I won't wilt under the bright lights, and I won't just go along to get along. Principled conservative leadership, an untiring work ethic, and a servant's heart is what I bring to the table. I think that stacks up pretty well against the experience of the rest of the field.

As far as my experience, for nine years in the NFL, I got paid to win, not to compromise. I'll bring that same determination to Washington. My most recent job was working for one of the nation's premier conservative think tanks, Family Research Council, on issues at the national level. I've had opportunities to get to know numerous national leaders and to work along side brilliant policy analysts. I think these experiences will serve West Michigan very well.

(Bottom UP) – As an “Outsider” in politics you will probably face an uphill battle as far as raising money especially through the established political apparatus. Can you as others have done turn that “perceived” negative into a positive? Also what role will the “New Media” play if any? Do you have a website and if so can you give us a link to it?

Reply - People respond to vision, and I think that as I cast the vision for why conservatism works, how to restore credibility to our party, and how to move West Michigan forward, that's something people can get excited about. So while our fundraising may not look conventional, I think the potential is great. We'll definitely be reaching out and connecting with supporters via new media, Facebook, Twitter, etc. And I'd encourage you and your readers to check out my website at

(Bottom UP) – At our previous talk your Campaign Manager Jane mentioned a Holland Sentinel Poll. For my readers here is the link . This is a very limited poll from a limited area but still it must at this early stage of the campaign bode well for you that you are leading your challengers by a healthy margin. What does this poll mean to you?

Reply - As you said, it's limited and early, so I don't want to read too much into it. But I think it's perhaps reflective of what we've been discussing here, namely, dissatisfaction with business as usual politics and a recognition of what I offer. I'm not an announced candidate, so to lead the field by nearly ten points was very encouraging. I'm going to do all that I can to merit the support that people are giving me and to earn the trust of those who are looking for real leadership to emerge in this primary.

(Bottom UP) – I hope you will take the following questions in the spirit in which they are asked. That spirit is to help provide our readers with a starting point on which to begin basing their opinion about your candidacy. I might add that I think it wise that you have jumped in early for that reason.

(Bottom UP) – Which skills do you possess and what experiences have you had which you feel will give you an edge in the primary campaign?

Reply - I played nine years in the NFL, an environment where you were paid to win--not compromise. I was successful at the national level largely because for nine years I worked harder than any one else to earn and keep my spot on the team. The work ethic my parents gave me, that has served me so well throughout the various stages of my career, will give me an edge. From my experience as a coach and director at FRC, I understand that people respond to vision and leadership and that success is very much dependent on the team you build around. So my ability to communicate my values and vision for our district and to build a great team is also an advantage. Lastly, I'd say a willingness to listen to the ideas of others will give me an edge.

(Bottom UP) – As a freshman in the US House, I would think your main choices would be to decide upon which committees you would like to focus your efforts. Do you have any specific committees in mind?

Reply - I believe I could make an impact on the small business, agriculture, appropriations, or armed services committees. There's a lot of policy work to be done (or undone as the case may be), and these are some of the committees where those reforms would likely start.

(Bottom UP) – In the US House Pete Hoekstra has sponsored the “Parents Rights” legislation. Would you be behind this bill?

Reply- In short, yes. I would support this type of legislation though Hoekstra's bill is actually a Constitutional Amendment. There is an interesting debate among conservatives on this issue, some of whom believe that codifying parents rights is the best way to protect them from judicial activism, government usurpation, and international treaties. Others believe that creating an amendment will limit the scope of parental rights.

(Bottom UP) – If you were sitting right now in the US House, is there any specific bill or other action you feel an attachment to and would be fighting for?
Reply - Three things real quick: first, I'd work to reduce corporate tax rates to ensure American businesses can compete in the global market place and encourage domestic investment. Second, I'd work to restore funding to our missile defense program and make sure that our military has every tool needed to succeed. Third, I'd get behind the Title X Abortion Provider's Prohibition Act. This bill would prevent Title X family planning dollars (a.k.a. our tax dollars) from going to line the pockets of the abortion industry.

(Bottom UP) – Can you give us a short version of your opinion on the following general issues? If you already have any specific solutions or legislation in mind please feel free to share them also.

(Bottom UP) –
1. Transparency in government, fiscally as well as committee deliberations.

Reply - As the saying goes, sunlight is the best disinfectant. A simple concept that would really help: one bill, one subject. I think blocking amendments that aren't germane to the legislation at hand would be a good place to start. Prime examples: adding hate crimes legislation to defense funding, or funding for porn shows in the recent "stimulus" bill. Americans are demanding, and Congress should act to ensure that there is adequate time for public scrutiny of legislation--no more 300 page amendments in the middle of the night and forcing a vote in the morning. I'd also like to see an online system put in place that allows voters to connect every pork project to the Congressman that requested it. You want turtle fences? Fine, then put your name on it. These are just a few ideas that I think would go a long way in bringing some accountability and transparency to Congress

2. Lower Taxes

Reply - Permanent tax relief, not temporary, targeted tax subsidies are needed to spur economic growth and investment, and provide stability to our markets. Families and buisnesses alike will prosper, just as a rising tide lifts all ships.

3. Less Government Regulation

Reply - Michigan is one of the most heavily regulated states in the nation. It's part of the trifecta that's crippling our economy (regulation, MBT, not a right to work state). I'll work to reduce federal regulation that hinders our economic recovery.

4. Right to Life

Reply – When we diminish the humanity of the unborn, we diminish our own humanity. I will unequivocally champion the right to life from the moment of conception until natural death.

(Bottom UP) – At Bottom Up Politics our mission is to bring more input from the Grassroots into politics. I think part of the feeling of angst out there that you mentioned seeing was evidenced dramatically by the “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less” protests on thru to the current “Tea Party” protests which clearly shows people are fed up with the “Top Down” politics both parties and government have practiced in the past. Do you have any suggestion as to how this “top down” government can start to be changed to a more “Bottom UP” and user friendly government?

Reply – What we're talking about is changing a firmly entrenched "Top Down" mindset. There's a belief among the political class that families and businesses are the servants rather than the masters of their government.

I think the message we've got to send to Washington is that they work for us and not the other way around. How we do that is by building on the momentum of the Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less, the Tea Parties, and the great showings at town halls across the nation in response to the Democrats plan to socialize health care. I think it's important to note that these protests and increased activism haven't been ginned up by Republicans; they represent real concerns among a growing number of Americans that we're on the wrong track as a nation.

What we need to do is effectively communicate with these folks, many of them orphaned conservatives like me, that their ideas of strong families, lower taxation, and limited government are still the values of the Republican Party. Ultimately, culture is more important than politics. And even if the leadership of our major parties doesn’t get it today, we've got to remain active and engaged and trust that our ideas win in the end.

(Bottom UP) - Well said Jay. Another useful aspect of the internet is its ability to network with other bloggers and their readers. Right Michigan has been a leader in this and “Bottom Up Politics” is doing our bit. At this point I would ask you to entertain a question from fellow Muskegon blogger GordoMuskegon (Jim Riley) at .

(MuskegonPundit)Question – Jay,
Most of those running for Pete's seat have extensive business success or political experience.

If you are not running on your business or political record, your stance on the tough issues of the day are important.

Michigan state government is broke, in good measure because of our anti-business climate and the enormous cost of state employee pay and benefits.
But even more damaging to our fiscal future is our underfunded state pension liability.

As our elected US Congressman, do you think the federal government should help bail out our state's giant deficit?

Reply - Absolutely not. Nor do I believe it's appropriate for our state government to use federal stimulus dollars to patch the state budget and short circuit the hard work of evaluating programs and cutting government largess. Michigan families are in many cases making do with less--trimming their discretionary spending. Lansing should follow their lead. We have a spending problem in Michigan, not a revenue problem. If we repealed the MBT, removed regulatory barriers, and made MI a right to work state, I believe we could see great investment in our state. I realize those are all very big "ifs". But if there was ever a time for some bold leadership in Michigan, that time is now.

(Bottom UP) – Thank You. Here is a quote I found from a Politico interview. (( ))
“They want leaders with the strength to stand up to higher taxes, Wall Street bailouts and out-of-control spending,” Riemersma said in the video. “People have encouraged me to consider running because I have the strength of my conservative convictions and will show leadership in these difficult economic times.”
Can you elaborate on this statement? Can you help our readers understand what role religion would play in your legislative role?
Below is a link for my readers to a YouTube about forming an exploratory committee from which Politico took their above quote.


Reply – – Our nation is undoubtedly at a crossroads. The Obama administration and Congress have over interpreted their electoral "mandate" and frankly are trying to do much more than most Americans want. Whether you talk cap and trade, defense programs cuts, or pork laden bailouts--our President, with the help of Congress, is pushing for a fundamental reordering of the American economy. Now with the attempted back door socialization of our health care system, it's dawning on Americans that the current leadership in Washington is not being guided by the principles that have made our nation great. Whether it's the disrespect of private enterprise, or the willingness of Congress to mortgage our nation's future with reckless spending--these policies demand a thoughtful answer from those with the personal integrity to give them credibility. People that know me--know what I stand for and how I've lived my life-believe in my ability to provide that kind of leadership in Congress.

My faith permeates everything I do; it's not a check your values at the door, kind of faith. I've always sought to bring God glory through my words and actions, and that won't change should I be entrusted with representing the 2nd district in Congress. I will seek to uphold the integrity of this high office in both my personal conduct and in the policies I advocate.

(Bottom UP) – I thank you for sharing your thoughts with our readers at “Bottom Up Politics”. If there is anything else you would like to cover please feel free. The floor is yours.

Reply – Bob, it's been a pleasure. Thanks for the opportunity to talk with your readers, and I hope our paths cross again soon. If you're interested, you can learn more about my candidacy at: . God bless you and you family.

<<<< bottom up edit --- Our paths have crossed since this interview took place and as I posted Monday about the Lake County Reagan Day Dinner, Jay restated that he had earlier in that day officially announced that he is running for Pete’s seat Here is a link to his youtube about it. Be sure to see part II >>>>>>

(Bottom UP) – Again, thank you Mr. Riemersma for taking the time to do this interview and we wish you all the best in this primary campaign.

As Always and With Appreciation; Live Dangerously Be A Conservative

No comments: