On August 4, Farmington and Farmington Hills voters will decide which Democratic candidate will run in November for the 37th District House seat held by term-limited State Rep. Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills).
Here’s an introduction to the three contenders, all of whom have strong connections to Farmington Hills city government:
A 22-year Farmington Hills resident, Michael Bridges believes he has “the necessary skills, values, and experience to be an effective legislator.” He won a spot on City Council during a 2008 special election; his third, full term expires in 2021.
Bridges said his leadership experience has included service with the Heritage Hills Homeowners Association, Farmington Family YMCA, and Farmington Public Schools PTA Council. Prior to winning a council seat, he served on the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
“What I’ve learned is that most of our local government policies actually originate with the state,” Bridges said. “Given my 12 years of experience, my values system, and my skill set of being a collaborator, working on both sides of the aisle within the Farmington Hills City Council, I think it would be quite useful in the state legislature.”
Among the accomplishments on his website, Bridges lists his opposition to the city’s controversial Directed Special Assessment program and leadership in the passage of the city-wide road millage. Also, he said he has been “a very forceful advocate for diversity and inclusion” within the city.
“When I first arrived on City Council in 2008, I noticed that our city (staff) was not representative of the population,” he said. “I called for an evaluation of our hiring practices, that resulted in the city manager coming forward with a plan to diversify our work force.”
Since that time, Bridges said, the city has made progress, but “we’re not there yet.” He added that he has personally attended recruiting events, particularly for the police department, to help build a more diverse pool of applicants.
Bridges and his wife, Deborah, have two sons who are graduates of Farmington Public Schools. Both hold college degrees and are currently in medical school.
Learn more at electmikebridges.com.
After serving on Farmington Hills city council for 16 years, Randy Bruce left in 2019 and launched his run for state representative to take his “proven leadership skills and record of accomplishments to Lansing to help improve the lives of our citizens.
Having someone in Lansing with a proven track record, he said, is important “because the most you can spend there is six years… If it takes you two to three years to get up and running because you haven’t been in leadership before, you don’t have that kind of time.”
Leadership, Bruce said, is more than just showing up to vote. It’s about having good ideas, turning them into a vision with goals, and getting people to support those goals.
“While on council, I was able to get people to support ideas and policies that continue to have very positive effects in the city and that are saving working families millions of dollars every year,” he said.
Accomplishments listed on Bruce’s website include support for expanding the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation and identity, and leading the push for a rental inspection ordinance to decrease the prevalence of poorly managed rental properties.
A 34-year resident, Bruce earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees at Wayne State University. Married to Jill, he is a licensed clinical psychologist and board-certified rehabilitation psychologist. He owns and operates Aspire Rehabilitation Services, which employs more than 50 people.
Bruce previously served on the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals and spent eight years with the National League of Cities Human Development Steering Committee, which advocated on issue ranging from mental health to homelessness and veterans affairs.
Learn more at bruceforrep.com.
A life-long Farmington Hills resident and Farmington Public Schools grad, Samantha Steckloff first got a taste for community activism as a teen. She worked on the city’s After School program and as a charter member of the Mayor’s Youth Council.
Her work and travel around the state and country led to a position with the Indiana League of Cities and Towns as their youngest-ever youth coordinator while she attended Purdue University.
“After I graduated from college, I returned to Farmington Hills, and I got involved in political campaigns,” she said. “It opened my eyes to the roles a lawmaker has. I knew I always wanted to be part of the solution… when I got more involved in the politics side, I realized that was the route I wanted to go. I wanted to be involved in the city that gave me so much, and the state that gave me so much.”
Steckloff said she decided to put her name on a ballot after a 2012 “lame duck” state legislature session, when lawmakers passed an Emergency Manager Law and made Michigan a “Right to Work” state, which prohibits workplace requirements to join a union or to pay union dues.
Now in her second, four-year term, Steckloff said, “Since running for city council, I realized that I have the strength and the ideas to make real change within our community… I’ve seen how Michigan is broken, but I’ve also seen how I’ve been inspired and empowered to fix it.”
Steckloff said working with her mother, Hills mayor and former state representative Vicki Barnett, has helped her build relationships with representatives on both sides of the aisle.
“It opened not just my eyes but my Rolodex to get to know some of the key players,” she said. “The relationships I’ve made, I’ve been working on for years. I’m making sure I have bills ready to go. I already know what to expect, whether I’m in the majority or minority. I’m just ready to go.”
Learn more at samanthasteckloff.com.