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Tom Graham for Kalamazoo County Commissioner

What differentiates you from other candidates?



My life experience. I've owned several businesses, (paper route at 13, contract programmer, childrens books publisher, boarding horses, my wife is a realtor). I'm an IT department manager, computer programmer, network engineer and project manager. I've worked in highly regulated businesses, Richard Allan and Stryker, Pfizer and Perrigo, and currently work at a hazardous waste disposal facility. I'm a filmmaker, podcaster, educator, writer, Antique tractor mechanic, Cub Scout and Boy Scout leader. I'm a husband, widower, father and grandfather. I'm a community organizer and advocate. I'm a political candidate, delegate and volunteer. In everything I do I have to listen to all stakeholders with an open mind and come up with solutions that are workable for everyone.

Why are you running?



I believe we have lost our way. In times of emergencies it is up to every single government official to look at the data and to make an informed decision. It is not their duty to follow the advice of the CDC or the WHO. The CDC published that data less than 3 months into the pandemic and it was plain to see then as it is plain to see now, children aged 0 to 18 have almost no chance of getting a serious case of COVID and they never should have been kept out of school or masked. Today our children are suffering the consequences of following Dr. Fauci's advice without thinking about it.

Back in 2016 I lost 2 good friends, one Trump supporter and one Hillary supporter, by simply voicing my opinion about the Trump vs Hillary election on Facebook. When people pick a team they become invested, and if you criticize their team they take it personally, but many have lost the ability to agree to disagree. If we agree on 80% of everything, that makes you a trusted ally, not a 20% traitor.

Our society is becoming more polarized. It used to be that everyone understood that civil disagreement was a great thing and everyone can learn from listening to arguments for each side. We all knew that two reasonable people often look at the same scenario in different lights and come to opposing opinions. Now there's a right and a wrong opinion to have and if you have the wrong opinion then you are literally Hitler. Social media has helped turn life into a constant debate with no room for compromise. Incivility and intolerance has always been there, but most of us just watched it from the outside. Social media now allows everyone to be a mini Rachel Maddow or a mini Sean Hannity and espouse hatred toward each other.

Everyone ought to be able to present their opinion and try to have an open mind. We need open minded people on the Kalamazoo County board capable of representing all their constituents. The absolute worst person to elect is an ideologue who only represents some extreme faction.

What are your thoughts on Proposal 3 - the abortion proposal

Before discussing the proposal I should be crystal clear what my opinion of abortion is.

1) I believe a woman has the right to a safe and available abortion, with no questions asked, up until the person developing inside her is legally "alive".
2) After the person inside is legally "alive", I trust women will make decisions in the best interest of the person growing inside them, and unfortunately, the right decision on rare occasions is a second or third trimester abortion. I see this as a parental rights issue just like removing a terminally ill child from life support.
3) I trust people will pay their taxes but I support tax evasion laws. I trust parents will not physically or sexually abuse their children but I support laws to punish parents that physically or sexually abuse their children. Even though I trust that healthy women will not abort healthy legally living fetuses, those that do, and the doctor performing the abortion should be punished as if they killed a child already born in order to afford the living unborn person their right to life, due process and equal protections under the Constitution.


Now my opinion about Proposal 3


It defines fetal viability as follows: ""Fetal viability" means: the point in pregnancy when, in the professional judgment of an attending health care professional and based on the particular facts of the case, there is a significant likelihood of the fetus's sustained survival outside the uterus without the application of extraordinary medical measures."

This literally means that if the attending healthcare professional believes, in their professional opinion, that viability starts at 10 weeks in that particular circumstance, then it is 10 weeks. Which puts women who want an abortion at a huge disadvantage due to the incredibly sloppy wording of this Constitutional Amendment that judges don't get to change. Previous rulings defining viability DO NOT COME INTO PLAY HERE and do not affect Constitutional Amendments.

Also it does not say that "attending health care professional" must be the mothers choice. If the mother found a physician that says 39 weeks and the father found one that said 10 weeks, then a court battle will ensue that will probably last longer than the pregnancy.



Finally, the amendment states that abortion can be regulated after viability, not before. This means that the Congress cannot pass laws that require parental consent for their minor child to have an abortion.

What are your thoughts on COVID?(This is my answer when I was running for MI House Rep on 05/02/2020)

It's incredibly difficult to estimate how many people will be affected by this, and I think the President has been doing the best he could with the data he had at the time. A vaccine is probably still a year away. We have a "Case Fatality Rate" established by comparing the diagnosed cases against diagnosed case deaths. But now serology data indicates that there might be 50-85 times as many infected people than have been officially diagnosed. Some people take that to mean COVID is only as deadly as the flu, but that is an apples to oranges comparison because you don't know how many undiagnosed flu cases there are.

COVID, by all consistent measures, is about 10 times more deadly than influenza. That's good news because the estimate began at 42 times as deadly. According to the CDC influenza kills about 12,000 to 68,000 each year in the US. Based only on that, we could be looking at between 120,000 and 680,000 deaths per year. But in a population of 327,000,000, that's between 1 out of 480 and 1 out of 2725 people.

One lesson to learn is that borders matter. As soon as our health is at stake, everyone is on board with shutting the borders. I hope people remember that.

The big lesson to learn from this is that there is no "one size fits all" action a Governor or a President can take. Right now, in Michigan, Detroit is already on the downward slope of the new cases curve while Kalamazoo and Battle Creek are still going up. Outside of Michigan, New York City is almost done with it and people should be going back to work soon. This has to be handled city by city, population center by population center in order to be meaningful. By closing everything down, what the governor has done is simply delayed the inevitable for the less densely populated parts of Michigan. Hopefully our farmers aren't sick when the crops need to be harvested due to the governor's actions.

The second lesson is that people have to start listening to these warnings and taking them seriously. When the CDC issues an emergency warning that people at risk should self quarantine then you should burn through your vacation time to save your life. Unfortunately the WHO and CDC have been so far off the mark in the past and with COVID, that many don't trust them. They need to stop predicting 2 million could die without hard evidence to support that prediction.

And finally, governors need to consider the effect on everyone. People lost their jobs and are going to lose their homes and many are going to commit suicide due to the financial losses. Is it okay to sacrifice one group of people to save another? Should we feel free to sacrifice people prone to depression to save people with COPD or diabetes or the obese?

What does Return2InTEGrity mean?

Nearly three years ago I started my YouTube channel Return2InTEGrity as a way to promote the idea that we are all neighbors and we all have basically the same goals, we just have different ways of getting to those goals. The TEG is capitalized because those are my initials. In a sea of YouTube channels intended to make you take sides, mine was intended to inspire tolerance of different ideologies through a more thorough understanding of the issues. I made a series of videos called "The Hard Answers" covering many of the most divisive issues to give viewers information that they may not have thought of. Most of the videos are over 30 minutes long and each took weeks to research and produce. Now that I am running for public office, the name of my YouTube channel pretty much summed up my outlook so I used it as my campaign name as well.

What are your thoughts about the Oshtemo Sewer Expansion project?

Please click here for a full explanation Download pdf

Why did you get involved with the Oshtemo Residents Association?

For 85 years, my family has enjoyed well water on our property. We have 4 generations living on the same 40 acres. When my home was built, like everyone else on the street, we drilled a well. After we built our home, the township installed a water pipe down our street as part of the KL landfill loop (From KL to 4th to Stadium to 1st to KL).
Two years ago my daughter and her husband built a home next to mine (same 40 acres). My daughter applied with the county for a well permit and one was issued, but later they discovered the township overrides the county. Although there is no danger of our water becoming contaminated, the township required my daughter to connect to the public water and to pay over $8,000 for the privilege. We asked the township if my daughter could pay the $8,000 fee for the infrastructure but also drill a well. They said "no".
I'd been thinking of running for public office for a few years and I'd already committed to running in the 2020 election. Now I was looking for ways to stop this kind of local government overreach legislatively.
When I heard about the sewer expansion project I decided to make sure the township was legally crossing its "t"s and dotting its "i"s. When I went to township meetings to start asking questions I found a large group of people pleading with the township to not force them to connect. Some were in danger of losing their homes due to the incredibly high connection privilege fees. These people were going through what my daughter and her husband went through and I wanted to do something to help. The group that eventually started the Oshtemo Residents Association noticed me standing up to the township, asked me to join their group, and since then we've accomplished some pretty great things together. We've identified our legal arguments, ran a GoFundMe campaign, hired a legal firm, created an incorporated organization with over 250 members, mediated with the township, sued the township, required them to republish the bond notice, and now collected enough signatures to require the township to put the bond issue on the ballot.

Since then, the township ran a survey in which 58% of the respondents said they don't want to connect to a sewer, the township went forward with another $30,000,000 sewer bond, I organized a second petition drive, turned in 20% more signatures than necessary just to have half of them rejected for notary errors. Do I have political aspirations? Absolutely.
Does helping this group help me politically? Only if I do a good job.
Am I doing this to get elected? Honestly, that is part of it. I want to show people what I'm capable of, what I care about, what I'm willing to fight for, and how hard I'm willing to fight for it.
How else will you know if I'm worthy of your vote?

What have I been involved in politically?

By trade I'm a computer programmer, so I see legislation from a technological point of view. I have pursued legislation in the Michigan House affecting the HYTA and automatic expungement acts. Both of these acts are intended to give people who have committed a crime and then have paid their debt to society a real second chance by expunging or sealing their case from the public record. The problem is that the arrest records have already been included in news media articles so a simple Google search completely defeats the intent of the laws. My legislation would require Michigan news outlets to remove all individually identifying information from those stories about HYTA and expungement recipients. The News outlet would be free to take down the entire article or simply remove the information including the picture and search engine indexing data.

I was heavily involved in fighting the Oshtmeo Sewer Expansion and trying to get the township to allow residents to pay for the sewer without connecting until their septic system fails.

I am a card carrying member of the NRA because I believe in the individual right to bear arms.

I am an activist for the Convention of States Project because I believe in Federalism and State's rights.

I actively oppose the ranked voting system currently being proposed (immediate runnoff) because it is unfair to 3rd parties and disenfranchises all voters.

I was actively against the redistricting commission Constitutional amendment because I predicted minorities would lose their voice in Congress, which they did.

I actively oppose the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact because I believe in Federalism and State's rights.

Should parents control what is taught in schools?

Parents should get the opportunity to review any text book that will be taught to their child before their child sees it. This should be done before the beginning of the school year. If concepts the parents do not agree with are present the parents should have the right to reject the entire text book by a simple majority vote of those parents in attendance at a meeting at which the vote will be held. All parents should be welcome to come and school staff with children in the same grade will also have a parent vote equal to the rest of the parents. The community without children in school should be free to suggest titles and subjects but the parents must have the final word.

What do you think of CRT being implemented in our schools?

While Critical Race Theory has the noble goal of pointing out problems that can be hard to see and that maintain or constitute racism, it has been a remarkably bad way of going about this. Critical Race Theory assumes racism is everywhere and in everything, and requires members of majority groups admit their unconscious racism. It states that things like self-reliance, science, reason, and evidence are attributes of "white-ness" and that minorities use alternate ways of knowing things that are equally as good. Of course it provides no evidence of this because that would be a show of "white-ness". It insinuates that if you do not agree with the tenets of CRT then you disagree only because you are a racist. Needless to say, I vehemently disagree with the way CRT tries to accomplish its nobel goals.

Are you for or against the George Floyd protests?

The definition of murder is "unlawful killing". George Floyd was murdered by the police officer who knelt on his neck. The pressure cut off his carotid artery stopping blood and oxygen from getting to his brain. The lack of oxygen caused his brain to request more blood from his heart putting Mr. Floyd into cardiac arrest and killing him of both asphyxiation (lack of oxygen to the brain) and cardiac arrest (heart attack ending in the heart stopping). This hold is typically called a “sleeper hold” and the person being held typically goes unconscious in 15 seconds or less and must be immediately released once unconscious. Because this hold is so dangerous and can so easily cause death if held too long, police forces do not endorse this hold nor do they train officers to use this hold. The police officer used incredibly poor judgment and failed to safeguard the life of Mr. Floyd while in custody, face down in handcuffs. Whether or not Mr. Floyd used drugs or had prior violent offenses on his record does not matter once he is in custody.

Your right to peaceably protest is guaranteed by the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution. I support all peaceful protesters exercising their rights regardless of whether I agree with their cause or not. Civil disobedience is breaking a single law because it is unjust, but still being obedient to the rule of law, voluntarily being arrested and not resisting arrest. It is to make a peaceful statement. I do not support violence and looting, I do not appreciate people making excuses for violence and looting. The entire purpose of the protests has been lost in the violence and looting. The only thing violence and looting creates is increased gun sales.

There is a psychology to mob and police interaction. Protesters, for the most part, will remain peaceful if the police remain peaceful. But if agitators push the police to react violently, it all snowballs into chaos. After the violence starts, it is incredibly difficult for police to treat every person in a group of protesters as individuals and not as a member of a violent mob. If our Universities are encouraging our young people to protest, they ought to teach them how to protest appropriately. 1) Don’t physically agitate the police 2) If an agitator is being arrested forcefully, give the police room to do their job. 3) Protest peacefully and wear a body cam at all times. 4) Don’t riot. 5) Don’t steal.

Was the event that happened at the Washington D.C. capital building an insurrection?

Your right to peaceably protest is guaranteed by the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution. I support all peaceful protesters exercising their rights regardless of whether I agree with their cause or not. Civil disobedience is breaking a single law because it is unjust, but still being obedient to the rule of law, voluntarily being arrested and not resisting arrest. It is to make a peaceful statement. I do not support violence and looting, I do not appreciate people making excuses for violence and looting. The entire purpose of the protests has been lost in the violence and looting. The only thing violence and looting creates is increased gun sales.

There is a psychology to mob and police interaction. Protesters, for the most part, will remain peaceful if the police remain peaceful. But if agitators push the police to react violently, it all snowballs into chaos. After the violence starts, it is incredibly difficult for police to treat every person in a group of protesters as individuals and not as a member of a violent mob.

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