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Meet 9th District Working Class Party candidate Jim Walkowicz

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Jim Walkowicz is a member of the Working Class Party and is running for election to the U.S. Houseto represent Michigan’s 9th Congressional District. He recently retired from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and was a union representative for 40 years.

This interview was edited for clarity.

Why do you want to be in Congress? 

I just don't feel that regular, everyday people are represented in politics at all today. And I have never run for partisan political office before, but I've been a union rep at my work site for 40 years. I just retired this year a few months ago, so I've run for office before, but not this type of office.

What's the most important issue facing the 9th District?

I think probably the overall issue that most people care about is the economy and good jobs and healthy lifestyle. A healthy environment.

Let's talk about the economy a little bit more specifically. What should Congress be doing with the economy?

I think that big businesses and the wealthy have been getting away with everything. I don't want to use the word murder. They've been having their way forever. And they've been allowed to, in some cases, not pay living wages, contributing to pollution, contributing to global warming. So if anybody should pay to fix things, I think those are the first people we need to look at.

Abortion rights is expected to be a major issue for the fall campaign. What should Congress do when it comes to abortion? Should it do anything?

I think a woman has a right to control her own body without government interference. Point blank, I think it's not my business. It's nobody else's. So to answer your question, I think Congress needs to pass laws that guarantee a right for a woman to control her own body without government interference.

On the issue of gun control, is there anything Congress should be doing when it comes to gun control?

I think you got to tie this into things like crime, because that's one of the reasons a lot of people want to own guns. They're afraid. I think if we lived in a world where there was not so much poverty, where there's not so much inequality, where people weren't frustrated, they didn't have jobs, I think crime wouldn't be to the extent that it is, we wouldn't have as much need for huge prison complexes and things like that. So I think you need to start by looking at what causes people to want to have all these humongous guns. I'm absolutely against assault weapons. That's just crazy. But I think it's not as simple as saying ban them, because I think you have to look at the bigger issue.

Moving onto climate change, what, if anything, should the next Congress do when it comes to climate change? 

I'm not a scientist. I'm not going to say absolutely what causes everything. But I think it's pretty clear that the things that big companies have done have contributed to global warming. To what extent? Like I said, I'm not a scientist that can answer that. But I think if that’s caused it, we need to make the people who caused these problems pay for it. I think we have to look at a cleaner, greener economy. I think it's going to be a hard sell because people see electric cars as elite, but we have to make alternative energy more affordable for people so they feel comfortable and they don't think they are just something rich people can do.

We're coming up on the 2022 election, but we are still talking about the 2020 election. There's been a lot of people denying that. What are your thoughts on that? Was 2020 fair?

So 2020, was it fair? I mean, I'm sure things could have happened. Who knows? But, you know, I think it's absurd to think that there were 8 million fraudulent votes, that's just absurd. (Ed note: Biden won the popular vote by 7,052,770 votes.) And so people need to stop crying about that and look forward. But it is sad to see the restrictions on voting rights that came out of that. I think everybody should have the right to vote.

Tell me about the Working Class party. What are the things that are most important to your party? 

We should be looking at things that address the majority of people in this country, which is the working class, as opposed to looking at what's best for big business. We need to be looking at the average, everyday citizen who goes to work every day and what they need. Affordable housing, good schools, safe environments. You know, a public health system that actually works. Those, to me, are the important things.

Do you live in the district? 

I do not live in the 9th District. However, I grew up in the 9th District. More importantly, for the last many, many, many years, I've been a union rep that covers these areas. To me, it was actually a logical district to run in.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
Taylor Bowie is a senior studying English Literature at the University of Michigan and an intern in the Michigan Radio newsroom. She is originally from Owosso, Michigan.
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