The 8th District has been my home for the past 23 years. We raised our children here. Because my wife and I both grew up in Michigan, we feel fortunate that career opportunities enabled us to settle permanently in our home state.
Professionally, I teach classes on public policy and law in MSU's School of Criminal Justice. Among the books that I have written, several are used throughout the United States to teach college students about public policy, law, American government, and criminal justice. I have taken an unpaid leave of absence from MSU and given up my salary for 2018 in order to do everything that I can to change what is happening in Washington.
I am a proud product of Michigan's public schools. I attended East Lansing's Red Cedar Elementary School while my parents studied at MSU. My family moved to Kalamazoo in 1965, where I became a Little Leaguer, Eagle Scout, and church choir member. My entire education from kindergarten through high school was in public schools. My two brothers and I credit public school teachers with giving us the knowledge and skills to succeed. One brother is now a Michigan public school teacher and the other works in business.
As a teenager, I worked in restaurants as a dishwasher and busboy. I was raised in a union household. Both of my parents were members of unions and I learned from them about the essential role that organized labor played in building financial stability for working families.
Although I had planned to attend my parents' alma mater, MSU, a local minister encouraged me to apply to out-of-state colleges, too. As a result, with family assistance, partial scholarships, minimum-wage campus jobs, and students loans, I managed to finance my undergraduate years at Harvard, where I earned a degree in Government. I later earned advanced degrees in law and political science at major state universities. After teaching for nearly a decade at universities in Connecticut and Ohio, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to come home to Michigan by accepting a faculty position at MSU in 1994.
I have been married to my wife Charlotte, a Battle Creek native, for 33 years. She spent more than two decades in state and county government (overseeing programs addressing public health and services to veterans, seniors, and children) before joining the staff of a national non-profit organization that seeks to revitalize city neighborhoods and small towns. We have two adult children. Our son is a recent law school graduate who serves in the Michigan Army National Guard. Our daughter is a beginning college instructor. Our son-in-law, the son of refugee immigrants, is a dedicated nurse at a major urban hospital. In February 2018, we celebrated the birth of our first grandchild.
Howell Town Hall, April 2017, speaking about family background, including importance of public schools and unions (6 minutes)