Jasper Martus announced his run to be the state representative for Michigan's newly formed 69th House District on Monday, Jan. 31.
Martus is a recent graduate of Michigan State University. He finished school in May 2021, with a bachelor’s degree in international relations with a minor in religious studies from James Madison College.
Since graduating from school, Martus has become a communications advisor for Democrats in the State House of Representatives. He said he oversees the communications for 15 state representatives but works throughout the state, writing talking points, speeches and memos for Democrats.
Running for political office has always been in the cards for Martus, but he never thought it would have been this early. But he said that he felt like the moment presented itself to him, so he decided to undertake it.
The 69th House District constitutes much of Flushing, the outer parts of Flint, Mount Morris, Swartz Creek and Montrose. Martus said he is “Flushing born and raised.”
As for why Martus believes that he is qualified to run for this position, he said he is young enough to offer new perspectives in the legislature but experienced enough in politics to know how to get things done. His experience — Martus has worked in politics since he was 16 years old.
Martus started out working for U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, both on his campaigns and in Congress. Since then, he has worked for former state Rep. Christine Gregg and other state representatives.
“I understand not just how to pass a bill and get it signed into law, but I understand the appropriations process, of how you get money to communities,” Martus said. “And that only happens when you have an advocate in the room who knows how to champion your community.”
There are three core issues that Martus is centering his campaign on: education and schooling, creating job opportunities and fixing infrastructure.
For schooling, Martus wants to make sure education becomes a way of life, not something people do until they are 18 or 22. He also wants to make sure there is universal access to pre-K and wants to pay teachers a higher salary.
“We need to pay teachers more,” Martus said. “When Michigan has one of the worst ratios of counselors to students in the country, making sure that our counselors are well equipped, not just to help kids get into college or trade school, but there are mental health professionals who can really be there for us.”
Martus said there are three industries already strong in the 69th: automobiles, agriculture and small businesses. He wants to ensure those industries continue to grow, while also creating and growing new jobs and industries. One of these industries Martus would like to see growth in is the beer brewing industry.
“The second highest growing metal manufacturing industry between 2015 and 2019 in all the United States was brewing,” Martus said. “I know that there’s a lot of opportunities here, so incentivizing brewers to start building these small businesses in our community because this has been, since 2008, one of the fastest-growing sectors of the manufacturing economy.”
For workers, Martus said he wants to institute a better wage, repeal Michigan’s “right to work” law and create new incentives for unionization in every sector of the economy. He said he wants to pass laws to stop employers from engaging in intimidation practices to prevent unionization.
“That’s one of the things where the state of Michigan has more power than what people might realize,” Martus said. “The state of Michigan should only be working with union workers, if that is possible. And so, if the state of Michigan is considering a contract with an organization that’s been union busting, we should not be doing business with them.”
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As for the last core issue of his campaign, infrastructure, Martus said that it is important to have a strong community representation in the room when spending for infrastructure is decided. Michigan received $10 billion from the federal government as a part of the recently passed bipartisan infrastructure legislation.
“A lot of time, when things are passed in D.C., it’s actually up to the state and local level to figure out how this money is going to be spent,” Martus said. “We have so much money that’s flooding in, and my community deserves an advocate in the room who has had the experience of the appropriations process, of understanding how we actually get that money from Washington, D.C. into our communities, whether it’s dealing with lead pipes in the legacy of the Flint Water Crisis, whether it’s rebuilding our roads, whether it’s converting to more green forms of infrastructure.”
At 22, should Martus win the primary and then the election, he would be among the youngest legislators. To people who think Martus is running for office because he is ambitious, Martus said it is because he is ambitious to institute important policy changes, not to see himself on television.
“I’m trying to fight to fight on behalf of my community, on behalf of communities across Michigan,” Martus said. “It doesn’t matter what other people say because that’s just what I’m fighting for.”
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