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Democrats looking to face Rep. Upton take part in forum in Niles

NILES, Mich. -- The seven Democrats hoping to take on Congressman Fred Upton in November spoke with voters at a candidate forum in Niles Tuesday night.

More than 130 people attended the event, which was held at the Niles Senior Center and organized by the South County Democratic Club.

The forum lasted more than two hours as the candidates discussed a variety of issues: Health care, tax reform, climate change, affordable housing, education, agriculture, marijuana and more.

Upton, a Republican, currently represents Michigan’s Sixth District and has been in office since 1986.

He opted out of running for a U.S. Senate seat this year and is running again to remain in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Here is some of what the Democratic candidates had to say at Tuesday’s forum:

David Benac:

“I’m someone who believes that the Democratic Party needs to be the party that can’t be bought.”

“I’m an idealist because I’m going to fight for what’s right.”

Eponine Garrod:

“I’m an activist first and a politician second.”

“Consistently, I will put others ahead of myself and I’m not afraid at what expense that will cost me.”

Rich Eichholz:

“I see all these problems, but I do know we can solve all of them if we can get our economy actually growing again.”

“I believe that we can get our economy growing again and revitalize our inner city and rural communities by expanding opportunities for what I call clean jobs.”

George Franklin:

“What people in this district want is a fair shot. And you are not going to get a fair shot with this Trump administration and an enabling Congress that is allowing it to happen.”

“I’m impatient as hell. I want to get things done. I’m going to go to Washington and challenge the system and I will make things happen.”

Aida Gray:

“Where my experience comes from, [it] comes from helping veterans. I worked at the VA and I want to help improve those systems.”

“My friends would say that I have perseverance.”

Paul Clements:

“We have an economy that’s working for the rich, but that’s not working for most of us. And I’m running to fix that.”

“I’ve worked on accountability in government as one of the main passions of my academic work.”

Dr. Matt Longjohn:

“We need to be able to provide a sharp contrast; someone who can go toe to toe with Fred every day between now and November.”

“From here on out, the job is yours to focus on electability. Electability is the issue of the day.”

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