Being elected as a State Representative is an incredible honor that brings a great responsibility. Our Republic requires civic engagement to provide the best governance, therefore I have decided to invest the time into bringing a high level of transparency in my approach to the office. My hope in writing these periodic Inside Scoops is to share an on-the-ground, up-to-date perspective of the life of a State Representative. You have entrusted me to be your voice for Allegan County and the continued growth of our state, and I am excited to see where God takes us on this journey.
Just the day after election day, the new freshman class was called to Lansing for an initial meeting with the Dean of the Caucus. I don’t think it was easy for any of us, after having just endured year-long campaigns, little sleep, and major time away from our families. We also had all the responsibilities of closing out our campaigns such as collecting our signs, calling our supporters, answering media interviews, etc. But for many, this was the first time meeting the candidates running for leadership which we would have to vote on the next day, so we went in spite of exhaustion and a laundry list of duties that needed addressed. On the positive side it was great to get to know some of the Representatives from around the state who I will be working with!
After the meeting there was a social event at Troppos hosted by Representative Cotter who was a candidate for Speaker of the House. On a personal note, late that evening my 17 year old daughter, Paige, texted me to say that that night she decided to get baptized! It was bittersweet as I of course was thrilled for her, yet I was not there for her and was in Lansing instead. My first day and already I was feeling the incredible sacrifice of this commitment, and reminded myself that these sacrifices were being made to provide a brighter future for my children and yours.
The next morning brought a breakfast at Troppos hosted by Representative Al Pscholka another candidate for Speaker of the House. This was the first day for us to attend caucus. Caucus happens in a small room off the back of the House Floor in the Capitol. Walking across the House floor for the first time caused me to pause and recognize the gravity and profundity of what it meant to be there as a Representative and servant leader. After the rigors of the campaign, this was a humbling moment! The ushers on the floor in their bright red coats were very attentive and led me right to the caucus room where I joined the newly elected Representatives and those beginning their second term. Attending my first caucus was an incredible experience that I will never forget, however I am not really able to share much about it. The rules of the caucus are that of confidentiality and what happens in caucus stays in caucus. We are even asked to put our phones away. In a room full of strong personalities, I was impressed and pleasantly surprised by the camaraderie, professional respect, and deference shown to each other in the room. There clearly seemed to be a high standard of conduct set by each class and each Representative.
As most of you have probably heard by now, Representative Cotter became our Speaker of the House. After winning our primaries, Gary Glenn, Todd Courser, and I released a press release stating that we would stand together uncommitted in the leadership race while looking for the candidates who demonstrate support for our conservative values, such as opposing Elliott-Larsen, and supporting zero based budgeting and the Hastert Rule. After hearing both candidates speak the night before caucus, Representative Cotter won our support as the candidate who best demonstrated the values we are committed to. According to MIRS, it was our support that resulted in swinging the race and giving Cotter the momentum to win. I am glad to have already made an impact in the State House on my first day:-) There were also 11 others elected to various leadership positions that afternoon and caucus ended up running many hours together in that small room.
Since then, Joe and I have cleaned out my campaign headquarters and with some volunteers, have been out through the rain and cold, taking down signs all around the county. Stacks of campaign materials from my headquarters fill my living room and den and will have to be organized and put away! Congratulatory messages have been flooding in through texts, messages, and letters, and a friend/neighbor dropped in with flowers and a card from their family to let me know that I am in their prayers! I have received some requests to meet about a few local issues and piles of letters from lobbyists have come in, opening the door to get to know them and their clients, and a package of all kinds of cherry snacks came in the mail.
Sunday I finally got to spend a little time with my family and it was great to be at church during the first Sunday of our new teaching pastor at Gracespring Bible Church! After that, our family had lunch with a wonderful couple who did a huge amount of work in getting signs up and down on the west side of Allegan!
This week I will be heading back to Lansing to spend a few days attending freshman orientation as well as meetings in district and in Lansing. Family life continues on with my children still focusing on their school work, Paige teaching piano lessons, Joey working and taking college classes, and Meghan playing travel soccer.
On the radar: closing out the campaign, closing out my headquarters, getting my house back in order, freshman orientation, staffing meetings, putting together processes for the office, updating Facebook and website, spending time with my children, and rolling out the upcoming Statewide Grassroots Powwow.
Cindy Gamrat for State Representative
Paid for by Citizens to Elect Cindy Gamrat · PO Box 452, Plainwell, MI 49080, United States