Kasey Helton- Michigan – Livingston County Commission Dist. 5
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I grew up in Livingston County and my husband and I are homeowners in Marion Township where we live with our two rescue dogs, Gabby and Obi. I graduated Howell High School in 1995 and moved back to Livingston County permanently in 2009. I work in the capacity management department for Michigan Medicine and my husband works for Michigan Seamless Tube in South Lyon and is a member of United Steelworkers. I also have a background in local journalism and was a reporter in Livingston County back in the early 2000s for the Livingston Daily Press & Argus, now known as the Livingston Daily. I became involved in local politics several years back by participating in Indivisible Livingston and the Livingston Dems. I also volunteer with the local chapter of Free Mom Hugs. This is my third straight year running for county commission.
Why are you running for office?
Back in 2018 when I ran my first race, it was simply to give people a choice on the ballot, as often in years past many open seats filled by Republicans went unopposed. I wanted to show that everyday people with no political experience could run for office and become a voice of influence. In the years since, as partasan divides deepen in this country and Republican messaging moves further and further to embrace fringe politics, so have those who hold public office in our local community. As a result, they have adopted policies at the local level that reflect the extremism that stems from empty showmanship. Our local political offices are in desperate need of bipartisan representation as a counterweight to fringe political values that are disrupting the traditional, productive ways of conducting local government business, which have generally reflected shared values. I believe that I can bring that to the table as a county commissioner.
What are the three biggest issues facing your community?
1. Expanding Rural Broadband access
2. Addressing the deficits in public services here in Livingston County: particularly seniors, the public health department and community mental health.
3. Expanded affordable housing access that meets the needs of young families, seniors, and the disabled.
How do you propose to solve those problems?
1. Utilize funding from the American Rescue Plan allocated to the county for infrastructure improvements to fully expand broadband access to all of Livingston County.
2. The county has a surplus fund balance upwards of $30 million, and the budget priorities they approve annually reflects a preference for policing and incarceration over expanded services. I would work to change that by reexamining the surplus to see if we can’t provide more assistance to community mental health, which is very underfunded. I would vote against any motion that puts political grandstanding over the needs of public health in terms of pandemic preparedness and the ability of our local health department to protect our local citizens from the spread of COVID-19.
3. I would work with cities and townships in Livingston County that are moving forward to develop master plans that advocate and anticipate the need for expanded affordable housing access. Affordable housing for low-wage workers, senior citizens and the disabled benefits our local economy and helps provide for a sustainable future for all of our residents who live and work here.
What is your stance on environmental and climate concerns that are facing your community?
As a primarily rural community with an abundance of natural resources, the Livingston County leaders need to take a more proactive role in preserving our environment and advocating for environmental responsibility, particularly against local threats to our environment such as PFAS contamination that continue to pollute our waterways. I would make this pledge as a county commissioner, and I would also be a voice that empowers our local citizens against polluters like asphalt plants who wish to move here to conduct business.
What commonsense gun safety measures would have the most impact on your community?
I myself am a gun owner, and stand with millions of other responsible gun owners in this country who believe that you can possess firearms and still support responsible gun legislation. As county commissioner, I would lobby our local sheriff’s department to put more emphasis on programs that encourage and educate on secure storage of firearms in this county. I would advocate on behalf of state legislators that support Red Flag laws that aim to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and those who wish to harm themselves.
How would criminal justice reforms impact your community?
This question hits close to me as late last year I was the subject of an felony criminal investigation on behalf of our local sheriff’s department for tweeting about COVID misinformation that was given in public commentary during a county commission and school board meeting. The incident became the subject of national headlines and charges were never issued by the local prosecutor, but that definitely drove home for me how eager some of our local law enforcement entities are to abuse the rights of citizens they are supposed to preserve and protect, as well as a shocking level of ignorance surrounding the first amendment.
Given my own personal experience, I would be front and center advocating for further education of local law enforcement on the subject of individual rights, comprehensive anti-bias training, as well as a re-evaluation of the bloated sheriff’s department budget (that disproportionately takes money away from a service-based approach to protecting the public in favor of expensive and often ineffective methods of mass incarceration).
How would you work to protect a woman’s reproductive health?
I would work to repeal the provision in county policy that prohibits non-bargained county employees to use their insurance benefits to obtain an abortion, even in the case of rape and incest. Our county employees work hard for that coverage, and it’s not the job of the county commission to dictate how public employees utilize their insurance for their own health care decisions. It’s a clear overreach. I would oppose any further measures that give local government any sort of authority or influence over a person’s private medical decisions.
What measures would you advocate to ensure that your constituents have the right to vote?
I would work to make sure our County Clerk’s office is able to conduct election business without partisan interference, and would continue to support legislation that upholds absentee voting, particularly as our very large senior population in Livingston County has come to rely on this method of voting over time.
“Posts by or about political candidates do not imply endorsement. All posts are created by answers from our Meet the Candidates survey.”
DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.