While the 2020 election will be the fifth general election with Rep. Kara Hope having her name on the ballot, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made this her first election running under unpredictable circumstances.
Though it is only her second time running for the 67th District in the state House of Representatives — she served on the Ingham County Board of Commissioners until her election to the House in 2018 — Hope has been involved in public service for years.
After graduating from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in English, Hope went to Cooley Law School, which prepared her for her roles as a pre-hearing attorney and a defense attorney. She started her solo practice, specializing in family law, in 2015.
She began considering a foray into the political sphere after volunteering for a local environmental cause, and after her time on the Board of Commissioners, she ran for a seat in the state House of Representatives.
Hope won her district, defeating Republican candidate Leon Clark by over 4,000 votes in 2018.
Now, with under a month before Hope and her new opponent, Nate Ross, face off on Election Day, Hope has been forced to reevaluate her reelection campaign in the era of COVID-19.
“In the past, I'd always rely on a more grassroots approach,” Hope said. “So, getting out in the neighborhoods and knocking on doors and talking to people, it's pretty effective. It's inexpensive, and people seem to respond well to it.”
However, due to coronavirus complications, door-to-door canvassing is no longer a safe way of reaching out to voters, leading Hope to switch to socially distant yet expensive methods of campaigning.
“We're going to rely more on mail and digital advertising and things like that,” Hope said. “The more expensive things that are safe.”
Hope said fundraising has been difficult in the coronavirus election cycle, which she deemed “completely understandable.”
In 2018, Hope received $109,155.93 in contributions to her campaign, according to Transparency USA.
Thus far in 2020, however, Hope has raised $37,530.55 in contributions and donations.
While COVID-19 relief and dealing with the pandemic’s effect on the economy and education system are at the top of her priority list, Hope said she is “passionate” about providing funding to communities via revenue sharing.
Revenue sharing refers to the distribution of tax revenue to local governments. According to Hope, local governments are entitled to a portion of revenues by the federal and state constitution and by statute.
In the past decades, however, local governments have not received their full share of tax revenue.
“It's been on the books for decades, and what has happened in the last 20 or so years … is that the Legislature has seen that pot of money as easy pickings to fill holes in their budget,” Hope said. “Local units of government really don't have any recourse. They just have to make do with what they get.”
Because of this, Hope said things that local governments are primarily responsible for — public safety, parks, senior centers, infrastructure, streets and sidewalks — have suffered in recent years.
“I wouldn't say it's a niche issue, but it's definitely something that when people hear about it, they're like, ‘Oh yeah, that's not fair. We should definitely be getting our share of state sales tax revenue,’” Hope said.
Currently filling one of three Ingham County seats in the state House, Hope’s constituency is partially made up of collegiate and MSU students.
She said it is important for young voters to know that she — as well as other elected leaders — are here to listen to their concerns.
Do you want the news without having to hunt for it?
Sign up for our morning s'newsletter. It's everything your friends are talking about and then some. And it's free!
“I think that's something that everyone should expect from their elected leaders,” Hope said. “... I am listening. I am responsive and even if I don't agree with someone, I'm willing to hear them out.”
Hope stressed the importance of representing everyone in the district, not just people who share the same partisan or ideological values.
“It’s my intent — and I believe I’ve done this since my first term — to represent everyone,” Hope said. “Not just people who vote for me, but everyone who lives in my district. That's the job. It's representing everyone.”
Share and discuss “5th election run for Rep. Kara Hope, 1st bid during unprecedented times” on social media.