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Bergman visits Ontonagon

For The Gazette

It was an old-fashion ‘chit-chat’ around the coffee table, at a local restaurant, yesterday afternoon in Ontonagon. With less than a week before an election, as expected the conversation went to politics. Especially when one of the restaurant stools is occupied by Michigan’s 1st District Congressional Candidate, Lt. General Jack Bergman.

The Republican candidate from Watersmeet is challenging Democrat Lon Johnson of Kalkaska for the chance to take the seat currently held by Iron Mountain’s Dr. Dan Benishek. Benishek, a Republican, chose not to seek re-election.

Bergman asked those at the table, and all around the back room of Syl’s Restaurant, “How long has it been since we have had a Congressman from the Western Upper Peninsula?” The answer would be the Copper Country’s Phil Ruppe. Ruppe, born in Laurium, served in Congress from 1967-1979.

This is the former Marine Lt. General’s first effort at running for office. He opened up the conversation saying that the biggest surprise of the election is “the negativity of the campaign that my opponent has chosen to run on. We’ve run a very positive, issue-based campaign.” Bergman talked about how Johnson took a statement he made in regards to Social Security, “and you cut it, shape it, use a work, and take it out of context.”

On the subject of Social Security, Bergman stated, “If you’re at the age of Social Security, or even close, you paid into the system. That’s your money. The reality is your benefits are not going to change. The mathematics says the Social Security fund was robbed. Remember Vice President Al Gore cast the deciding vote to unlock the lock box, take the money out for other things. Then pay it back. It didn’t get paid back.”

Bergman went over the numbers of people paying into Social Security compared to those that will be receiving benefits are changing. “At one point there were 300 people paying in, with one person taking out, now it is 3 to 1. The math says the system is going to run out of money. I think those paying in should choose where they want their money to go.”

The ‘hot topic’ around the table was the Affordable Care Act (ACA). One Ontonagon County resident showed how much her premium has gone up, while others pushed for the ACA to be repealed and replaced. Bergman agreed with them.

The conversation turned to jobs where Bergman talked about how his father had to leave Ironwood to find a job. Bergman stressed how important it is for the Western UP to take advantages of the Natural Resources the area has. “This includes both above and below ground. I am a conservative. This is not one that doesn’t believe in the use of our natural resources, but the wise use of our natural resources.”

While he was in Ontonagon, Bergman talked about issues all around the 1st Congressional District. One of which is getting control of the US Forest Service, referring to an access issue in Delta County. Bergman talked about funding repairs and improvements to the Soo Locks. When it came to supporting the use of water for Lake Superior for a Water Bottling Plant, Bergman reiterated how he is going to turn to the residents of the District to have Town Hall meetings to discuss ideas on creating jobs.

“As a General in the Marine Corps I often turned to my Sergeants. I will be turning to you if I am elected, that is after two weeks to go Deer Hunting,” concluded Bergman.

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