Oesterle Looking to Break Democratic/Byrum Hold on 67th District

By: Alex Goldsmith Email
By: Alex Goldsmith Email

The 67th District and the name Byrum have been married for quite some time now. From 2002-2006, Dianne Byrum held the district's seat in Michigan's state House of Representatives. Her daughter Barb Byrum took over for the last four years.

Despite a tough election cycle and a national trend against incumbents, Byrum is confident she can hold onto her seat.

"I'm cautiously optimistic," said Rep. Byrum. "I've been reaching out to voters, knocking on doors and voters have been very positive."

That may be, but Byrum says she isn't deaf to the frustration some of her constituents have expressed about how the state legislature is handling things.

"They are demanding some changes in Lansing," said Rep. Byrum. "I've led the change, voting to eliminate lifetime healthcare for legislators and voting to take a 10 percent pay cut."

Byrum's Republican opponent Jeff Oesterle says he plans to bring change to Lansing too, especially when it concerns education.

"We need to change both the way [education] is funded and the way it's delivered," said Oesterle. "We haven't had a change in the funding for quite a number of years now."

Oesterle brings a wealth of experience. He has previously served as President of the Ingham Co. Farm Bureau and as Vevay Township Supervisor. But one of the prime sources of experience he says he draws on is work with his family farm.

"I understand what small businesses require," said Oesterle. "We have to make the business climate in Lansing more conducive to jobs."

Byrum has a small business background too. She owns Byrum True Value Hardware in Charlotte.

"As a small business owner I know that 90 percent of jobs here in Michigan are created by small businesses," said Byrum. "We need to roll out the red carpet for small businesses not tighten up the red tape."

Political consultant Bill Rustem of Public Sector Consultants says this is not a slam dunk for the two-term Democratic incumbent.

"She does have a little bit to be concerned about," said Rustem. "This is one of those races that is frankly going to be close."

It's not just close, it's also potentially very important.

"It's one of the handful of races that will determine who controls the House," said Rustem. "It's one of those 50-50 districts that could really go either way."

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