A Lifetime of Service

Jeff Merritt

 

Master of Arts, Exercise Science

Ball State University, Muncie IN

 

Master of Arts, Education

Aquinas College, Grand Rapids MI

 

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology and Political Philosophy

The University of St. Thomas, Houston TX

Helping others has been a driving force behind everything in Jeff Merritt’s life.  The idea of service was indelibly etched in Jeff’s mind at a very young age and has continued to be a motivation in his life’s work to this day.

Jeff’s work-life has been devoted to service in his community.  Upon graduating from the University of St. Thomas, Jeff served as a Social Worker for Catholic Social Services in Grand Rapids MI where he worked in the abuse and neglect system.  After this, Jeff spent many years working as a teacher, Director of Alternative Education. Jeff is currently working as a Realtor for Greenridge Realty and as a Life Coach.  

“My strong desire to be of assistance to others goes back to my Catholic school upbringing in South Bend IN where community service was an integral part of my youth.”  The desire to serve others has always been Jeff’s primary motivation and it is what makes the prospect of serving his community as a member of the House of Representatives, District 86 so exciting to him.

When Jeff is not working you will probably find him on the soccer field where he has coached and done individual training for 33 years.  As a coach and athlete Jeff has received numerous awards. And in his work, he has often been recognized for his high level of dedication and competence.  At home, Jeff loves to cook and entertain, or simply sit back and watch his beloved Michigan State Spartans.

Jeff is married, has five girls, seven grandchildren and a very sweet Saint Bernard named Lacy.  He currently resides in Caledonia MI. He has been active as a Special Olympics volunteer, and in the Buddy Up Tennis Program through the United States Tennis Association.

 

Issues of Importance

Jobs:

On December 10, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization passed a Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  In Article 23 of that declaration, it says that:

  1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work, and to protection against unemployment.

2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

In Article 24 it says that everyone has a right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitations on working hours and periodic holidays with pay.  

It is my belief that the government has a responsibility and moral obligation to create policies that will produce working conditions that fall in line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  As a House member it is my intent to put forward policy ideas that will bring us closer to the declaration put forth by the United Nations and also the United States Employment Act of 1946 (which directs our government to promote maximum employment, production and purchasing power) while working together with community business leaders and their workforce.  I love this state and am very committed to making Michigan a popular landing place for businesses and a place where our kids can stay and find a variety of good career opportunities. 

Education:

Again, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to an education.  It goes on to state that primary and secondary education should be free. University education should be accessible to everyone and should move in the direction of being free to everyone who qualifies.  The United States falls quite short on this when compared to many other countries in the world. Germany, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Finland, Czech Republic, France, and Belgium are among the list of countries that have free University education or have such low costs that it is accessible to all.  Although we boast some of the finest universities and colleges on the planet few Americans can afford to attend without taking out loans to complete their education. The costs for a university or college education is tremendously high in the United States. This needs to be looked at and changes need to be made.  The benefits of change in this area are significant. Some benefits are:

  • It can lead to sustainable economic growth

  • Fosters democratic and peaceful societies

  • Encourages participation in the process of governing

  • Can create a rich cultural life

  • Promotes social justice

  • Helps to overcome persistent societal challenges

  • Encourages sustainable development which includes respect for the environment

As a House member, it is my intention to explore ways to make education more accessible to all and to promote policies toward that end.  

In addition to this, the working conditions for teachers need to improve.  Teacher compensation needs to be addressed.  Teaching is such an important profession.  Because of inadequate funding teachers have received few raises and have not been compensated adequately for their work.  Teacher's salaries need to be competitive with other professions.  This will improve teacher morale and improve teacher retention.  Teacher tenure laws need to be reinstated in our State.  Classroom conditions need to be addressed as well.  Teachers and children will be better served with smaller class sizes and increases in per-pupil funding. "Education is the most powerful tool you can use to change the world." (Nelson Mandela) As a House member, it is my intention to be a staunch advocate of Education, her administrators, and teachers.

The Environment:

Michigan is one of the most beautiful states in the United States.  That beauty brings with it a tourism industry that is critically important to the economic well being of the state.  It is with this in mind that this state needs representatives that are committed to protecting the environment. It is my intention as a House member to bring forth policy ideas that move in the direction of protecting the environment while at the same time promoting business opportunities in the state.

 

Top Priorities

  • I will support legislation that fights for social justice especially policies related to voting rights

  • I will support the Quality Education Agenda

  • I will support the commitment to clean up rivers, bays, and vital resources in the state 

  • I will support efforts to transition to a clean energy economy

  • I will support efforts to eliminate single-use plastics in the state

  • I will support efforts to have a $15 minimum wage

  • I will support all efforts to improve working conditions for all Michiganders including efforts to repeal Right to Work

  • I will support efforts to provide non-work-related health care for all Michiganders

  • I will support efforts to support farmers who look to move toward organic farming practices and regenerative agriculture