Love’s top three priorities are the economy and workforce, infrastructure and senior care. The three-term former state representative is running for the U.S. Senate because “it’s absolutely important that we have someone from this area representing all of that.”
By Andrea Plaid
In an exclusive extended interview with the Michigan Chronicle, former Michigan state representative Leslie Love is announcing her bid for U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow’s seat. Stabenow stated she will not seek reelection as she is retiring at the end of her tenure.
“I’m running to represent people like me: working-class folks. And I’m running because representation matters.”
Love is running as a Democrat, and her top three priorities reflect her professional roots. One part is the economy and workforce, which stems from the hollow paradox of businesses considering so many workers in hourly, mostly minimum-wage jobs as both “essential workers” yet disposable employees.
“We are having a human-resource crisis in America—and certainly in Michigan. There are good, well-paying jobs, and people are still saying that they can’t find employees. We need to retool the work base to prepare for the skilled-trade jobs, for example.”
“Wages have gone up–and inflation is up–but we haven’t had people return to the workplace. So, that’s a concern for Michigan employers in every industry across the board. And that’s something we’ll have to address as a nation: what do we do with our workforce to encourage and prepare our workforce.”
The “intellectual jobs” might replaced by AI, and it’s the “essential workers” who will be needed for certain jobs. Love said the pandemic shifted that paradigm to working-class people and, relatedly, immigration.
“What do we do when we have all the jobs but not enough people to fill them? How does immigration play into that? We need to have thoughtful, deliberate conversations around that issue that’s win-win for everyone.”
The second part of Love’s platform is infrastructure. “As we talk about electrification and all the initiatives around that, we have to make sure that we have a grid that can support and sustain all of these ideas we have coming on board between next year and 2030. She connected her infrastructure priority to making sure all Michiganders have access to “clean and affordable water” and to broadband as much as to investing in the state’s roads and bridges.
Love was on the natural resource commission, she said part of that work is about conservation and the environment, especially how to protect the environment, including the water—and getting the funding to do so.
When asked how Michigan freshwater ways would play a role in what climate-change experts predict will be internal and external migration due to water being a scarce resource, Love said, “Michigan is a beautiful, diverse area—and we welcome diversity. The UP is different from the Lower Peninsula. We have taken in immigrants from al walks of life. Yes, we have lost population, and that affects the federal dollars that we get. So, if people want to move to Michigan, that’s great! Who wouldn’t want to live here?”
Her third priority is “everything around senior care.”
Love’s mother was in a nursing home, and Love experienced “that nursing-home journey with her for over eight years.
“Seeing that industry—long-term care, rehabilitation care–we really do not do a good job of taking care of our senior. If nothing else, I want to move the needle on that issue and make sure that our seniors can have the care and respect they deserve.”
“It’s a Medicaid/Medicare structure problem and a poorly funded system,” Love stated. “It’s about compensation. It’s about how my mother, who was a hardworking union member, had to give away all her assets just so she could have care. If you’re a senior and you’re healthy, that’s great; however, if you need dialysis or you’re in a wheelchair, or you need a catheter, the worse your health gets, the more expensive your care is. And a person’s savings and whatever their family can pull together just isn’t enough.”
Part of her third priority includes making sure the nursing-home staff are getting a living wage and other comprehensive reform around the issue.
When the Chronicle asked if her senior-care reform included end-of-life care, Love said that she passed a package of bills during her time as a state lawmaker regarding such care.
Love handily won the state representative seat for District 10 back in 2018. Eighty-four percent of the electorate voted for her. She served as a legislator for three terms, starting in 2015 and ending in 2020, when she was “termed out,” she said. During her tenure, she was the Democratic Vice Chair on the Workforce and Talent Development committee as well as served on the Transportation and Infrastructure, Regulatory Reform, Commerce and Trade, and Financial Services committees. She was also appointed to serve on the MiSTEM Advisory Council, a group of business, K-12 and higher education and philanthropic leaders dedicated to helping make Michigan a world leader in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education.
“I served during one of the most tumultuous times in Michigan, from the Flint water crisis, to the residual effects of the Detroit bankruptcy to the reorganization of the Detroit public schools and other school districts almost going into bankruptcy; Colin Kaepernick taking a knee and George Floyd; the insurrection on January 6th and voter deniers—all of those things had reverberations and came back to Michigan. Those are the issues influenced what I worked on, and I want to continue to do this in Washington D.C.
“I got legislation signed into law; I just didn’t warm a seat and press a button. I’m not new to this; I’m true to this. I’m not a show pony; I’m a workhorse.
“And at this point in history, it would be nice to have someone from Michigan to go to the Senate with a little experience under their belt. You don’t have to tell me how a bill becomes a law because I’ve got several of mine signed into law. I know how to move financial resources to the state from Washington. D.C.”
When asked how she would use the federal position to stave off gentrification in Detroit, Love responded, “Investing in minority businesses is important. It’s in our federal contracts that when you are using public dollars, there are initiatives to spread opportunities to those businesses. So, that’s I would affect change on a federal level.”
And it’s just as important who we send to Washington, Love stated.
“Yes, I’m from Detroit, from Wayne County and from Southeast Michigan, the biggest economic engine in the state. It’s absolutely important that we have someone from this area representing all of that. It doesn’t mean that I’ll neglect the rest of the state; I represent Michigan. Our small businesses, however, are concentrated in Southeast Michigan.
“So, how we stave off gentrification is keeping housing affordable, keep the banks honest so we can avoid what happened with foreclosures here.”
The Michigan delegation “looks like the U.N.—except for a Black woman,” Love said. “Does that matter? I think it does. Do we have a progressive? So far, it’s just me. Do we have someone representing Southeast Michigan, born and raised in the state, educated in the state? I hope it matters to the Michigan Chronicle readers because representation matters”
And Love reps hard for this part of the state: she grew up in Detroit, attended Detroit Public Schools and graduated from Cooley High School. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Siena Heights University, a master of fine arts from Wayne State University and a master of arts in human resources management from Marygrove College.