Two small business owners vying for West Michigan House seat

BYRON CENTER, MI — Two small business owners are going head-to-head in the November 8 general election for a seat in Michigan House.

Republican Angela Rigas is up against US Navy veteran and Democrat Kimberly Kennedy-Barrington in the 79th district race, which includes Kent County south of M-6 but west of Alto and some of Allegan and Barry counties.

Rigas, which is backed by former President Donald Trump, describes itself on its campaign website as “pro-life and pro-liberty” and as a “voice for the voiceless students, children and veterans”. The Alto resident is a small business owner and was previously a delegate to Republican county and state conventions.

Kennedy-Barrington of the Byron Center is the founder of 100 Shades of Diverse Abilities L3C. The small business owner, disabled after a stroke and cancer, sits on the Michigan Council for Rehabilitation Services.

MLive/The Grand Rapids Press has partnered with the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Michigan to bring candidate information to readers. Each candidate was asked to present their position on a number of policy issues listed below.

All responses in the Voter Guide were submitted directly by the candidate and have not been edited by the League of Women Voters, except for necessary trimmings when a response exceeds the character limit. Spelling and grammar have not been corrected. The publication of candidate statements and opinions is solely in the interest of the public and should NOT be construed as endorsement. The League never endorses or opposes any candidate or political party.

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What, if anything, should Michigan do to 1) provide equitable, quality public education for all students and 2) address the teacher shortage?

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“Making public schools competitive by making it easier for students to access alternative schools such as charter, religious and home school options also leaves students stranded with money.

Make education a more competitive environment for our educators (competitive wages, insurance and pensions) with competing public and private school options to ensure our students receive the very best education.”


“Many parents have had to be their and other children’s teachers over the past 24 months. And parents of special needs children have had to shoulder this burden alone. I think all parents should get a paraprofessional certification and get paid to teach their kids. Parents who have a college degree or a bachelor’s degree should transfer those credits to a teaching degree and give them a teaching certificate.”

What actions do you support to help Michigan residents improve their economic position?


“Remove the income tax, lower the property tax, and make Michigan more business-friendly to encourage commerce. Eliminate the gas tax and return unnecessary spending to taxpaying citizens.”


“Wealth redistribution to strengthen the backbone of our economy, which is small businesses. Michigan can remove market barriers and empower entrepreneurs across the spectrum of industry services and products. I will ensure grassroots organizations and their leaders are made aware when federal and state funds are available.”

What state policies do you support regarding Michigan elections, campaign finance and voting rights?


“Elections should be fair and robust to ensure a transparent electoral process. This needs to be done with voter ID laws and make Michigan a closed primary state. Postal votes should be reserved for military/out-of-county and disabled persons only.

Dark money is corruption and must stay out of the electoral process, quarterly reports must be made for all campaigns. Violations must be promptly investigated and remedied.”

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“Integrity of Voter Rights It is vital that diversity, equity and inclusion are respected and that the multiple opportunities a citizen has to participate in elections are taken into account. Voters must protect their right to vote for accessibility, ease and autonomy. There are currently no mandates for accessible polling stations, so I will introduce bills.”

What actions or policies do you support to protect Michigan’s water, air and land for present and future generations? What is your position on energy efficiency and renewable energies?


“Conservation is an important issue, especially for Michigan. Invasive species need to be addressed by supporting organizations already working on the issue.

Renewable energy is great if it’s efficient and/or cleaner than current energy sources. One form of renewable energy that is efficient and truly renewable is nuclear power. Investing in natural gas would also give our country an edge over other areas of power generation.”


“I start with myself and my campaign by running with minimal paper usage. There are more than 875 candidates and that’s a lot of paper thrown away. Michigan’s governor and current lawmakers are working on solutions for water and air, and I will step in and support them.”

How would you address racial, economic, health and educational injustices, including the 23% of children and 17% of Michigan seniors who live in poverty?


“Bring real education to our schools and remove destructive rhetoric and politics from education. Lower taxes and make it easier for trade and jobs to return to Michigan. Ensure healthcare is competitive to ensure better rates for individuals.”

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“Expansion of the services of the MiAble program. Millions of Americans with disabilities depend on a variety of public services for income, health care, food and shelter. Many of these benefits require passing a means or resource test, which limits the eligibility of those who report assets in excess of $2,000. The Federal Attainment of a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) empowers states to establish tax-deferred savings programs so that people with disabilities can save and invest money without jeopardizing their eligibility for public benefits.

Donate up to $16,000 each year. Save additional earned income thanks to the ABLE-to-Work Act.”

What steps, if any, should be taken to reduce gun violence in our communities?


“Supporting local law enforcement agencies, introducing gun safety programs in education. Improve security for educational institutions and remove access restrictions on law-abiding citizens purchasing firearms for self-defense.


“There should be a psychological test when applying for a gun license and if you fail, you are NOT allowed to buy a gun. Gun licenses are valid for 5 years in Michigan and I think 6 months before the expiration date a psychological test should be taken and the person who fails their license should be revoked. If there has been a gun incident, the license should be revoked, especially for concealed carry guns!”

General elections in November 2022

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