Ruggles plans to run against Potvin


BIG RAPIDS — Running for office wasn't always in his plans, but Remus resident John Ruggles believes he could be a contender for a seat in Michigan's House of Representatives.

Ruggles announced this week his plans to run as the Democratic candidate to represent Michigan's 102nd District. The district, currently represented by Rep. Phil Potvin, R-Cadillac, covers Wexford and Mecosta counties and part of Osceola County including Reed City and the townships of Burdell, Cedar, Hartwick, LeRoy, Lincoln, Richmond and Rose Lake.

"This will give the people of this area a true decision to make," he said on Monday during a visit with Pioneer staff. "I will not be in office to serve the governor. I'll be in office to serve the people. If you say that the governor is your boss, you've got a problem. I can assure you the people will have more to say about what I vote on because I've listened to them, not the governor or the political party. ... The people are going to be my boss."

Ruggles, who describes himself as a "conservative Democrat," came to Mecosta County in 1968 to work on establishing the Head Start program and other job training programs. He later consulted on state and federally funded projects in Northern Michigan, including rehabilitation of the Nesbitt-Fairman buildings in downtown Big Rapids and many county parks, he said. He has lived in the Remus area since 1970.

Ruggles wants to see Ferris State University and community colleges double in size, and he believes the state could apply pressure to the university to create curriculums designed to meet the needs of today's workforce, or to grow the programs already in place.

"Ferris State University should be a national leader in job training," he said. "Not everyone needs to be a college graduate. We need plumbers, pipe fitters and electricians. ... We need to put Ferris on the map for how well they do in vocational education."

Conversely, Ruggles wants to see the legislature take a step back from curriculum writing in K-12 schooling, instead leaving such decisions to local school boards.

He also believes some infrastructure improvements, such as road repairs, coupled with more marketing of Michigan's natural resources, could draw tourism to the state. He advocates for the protection of the environment as well.

Ruggles says he will appeal to voters who want their voice to be truly represented in Lansing.

"If you only care about the 1 percent, I am not your guy," he added. "If you care about the people, if you care about jobs and you care about your quality of life, I'd like you to consider me as your candidate."