Steckloff sees tough first term in Republican-controlled House

Samantha Steckloff
Samantha Steckloff (samanthasteckloff.com)

New state representative Samantha Steckloff may have been elected as a Democrat, but she made clear on Wednesday that she plans to represent every resident in House District 37.

The lifelong Farmington Hills resident will in January replace term-limited State Rep. Christine Greig, also a Farmington Hills Democrat. Steckloff’s mother, Vicki Barnett, served in the same seat from 2009 to 2013.

Bipartisan support

Steckloff, a Farmington Hills city council member, said Wednesday that she has already contacted Republican friends to set up conversations about legislation important to them. She knows she has bipartisan support; on Election Day friends sent photos to show they voted for her and supported President Donald Trump’s re-election bid.

While Steckloff anticipated winning the majority of absent voter ballots, which were largely cast for Democrats, she did not expect the same level of support from in-person voters.

“I was surprised by how many votes I got on Election Day,” said Steckloff, who defeated Republican Mitch Swoboda with nearly 64 percent of the vote. “I am very excited to represent the entire community.”

Pandemic campaigning

While the COVID-19 pandemic made campaigning difficult, Steckloff attributes her success to a devoted campaign team. With little opportunity for “door-knocking”, she spent up to six hours a day on the telephone and hand-wrote 3,000 postcards.

“I knew I had to put in the work,” she said. “I didn’t leave a single thing on the table.”

Steckloff thanked Swoboda for putting his name on the ballot. “Running for office is extremely difficult. It consumes your entire life for a year.”

Although voters kept the Michigan House in Republican control, they did vote in a Democratic majority on the State Supreme Court, Steckloff said. She believes the party will flip the House in 2022, after the state’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission draws new boundaries.

“We’re finally going to have a level playing field,” she said. “I am very hopeful for the future.”

Getting elected is just one highlight of Steckloff’s year. In a small September ceremony, she married her best friend, Brandon Sundheimer. And on December 31, she will end a long course of chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer.

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