AG candidate Nessel visits Houghton

Jesse Pickens/Daily Mining Gazette Dana Nessel, a Democratic nominee for attorney general, speaks during an interview at the Daily Mining Gazette Wednesday. The party’s attorney general nominee will be chosen at the state Democratic convention in Detroit next month.

HOUGHTON — One of the Democratic candidates for state attorney general visited Houghton Wednesday as part of a trip across the Upper Peninsula.

Dana Nessel, now managing partner of Nessel & Kessel Law in Detroit, has been in the legal field for 25 years. She spent 11 years as assistant prosecutor in Wayne County before going into private practice in 2005. Her biggest case, 2012’s DeBoer v. Snyder, challenged the ban on same-sex adoption and marriage in Michigan. It was consolidated into Obergefell v. Hodges, the case in which the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide.

She said she decided to run to change what she saw as an attorney general’s office that has been protecting corporate interests and bad state actors under Republican Bill Schuette.

“I want to take that office and bring it back to the place it was when Frank Kelley was there, and I figured I could do that by continuing to file case after case after case against the office of attorney general, or I could run for the office and seek to instill it with the values I have and I think the values that most Michiganders have,” she said.

Her priorities in office will including bringing back the focus on consumer protection she said existed under Kelley, who served as attorney general for 28 years. Nessel wants to assist seniors against “an epidemic of abuse and neglect and economic exploitation.” Nearly a quarter of nursing homes in the state have been found to have serious quality of care issues, she said.

She will also go after issues with drinking water throughout the state. She related the story of a farmer in Kalkaska who said fracking had polluted his well water to the point he can go to his kitchen and light his tap on fire.

“If you don’t have clean drinking water, and you don’t have your health, you really don’t have anything at all, so it needs to be a huge priority,” she said. “We have great environmental laws still on the books – right now, at least.”

Nessel backs the closure of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline across the Strait of Mackinac, citing studies showing the potential for “economic and ecological catastrophe” if the pipeline fails.

“We’re going to see widespread devastation in the event of a spill,” she said. “And it’s something that we can prevent. So I’d like to encourage our state legislature and our governor to move as quickly as possible to make certain that all the alternatives that we need are available to our residents that live in the Upper Peninsula.”

TOMORROW: Nessel says she will take a proactive approach in suing drugmakers for their role in creating the opioid epidemic and on other legal issues involving immigration, Obamacare, education funding and net neutrality.