Born and raised in Escanaba, our Michigan Senator of the 38th district in the Upper Peninsula worked as a log hauler for 27 years before becoming a lawmaker.
Senator Tom Casperson said while he served on the board of directors of the Michigan Association of Timbermen, a fatal logging truck accident in the late ??90s that killed a young mother and her toddler ignited a fire in him for policy.
??That changed me, and it bothered me because it was my industry that was involved in it, and I found as we tried to fix things and make it better, we struggled to get the government on board,?? he said. ??In this case, the Department of Transportation I didn??t think was being as proactive as they should have been when we were stepping up as an industry trying to make the industry better.??
Before becoming a state senator, Casperson served three terms as state representative in the 108th district. During that time, his first piece of legislation was a logging truck bill stemming from the accident, as well as mining legislation laying out industry standards to revive the once-booming business.
Now serving as our U.P. senator, Casperson said he feels he has an even greater ability to make a difference.
??The senate position has given me the opportunity to work on some of these issues and it actually effect more change, in my opinion,?? explained Casperson. ??I can??t fix everything. I??m only one person, but I think what I??ve found is that when we work together, we get a lot done.??
Because his district is larger than nine other states, he??s been a pioneer in Lansing utilizing video conferencing to give Yoopers the chance to speak their mind without having to travel.
??It??s not just for the constituents in the U.P. having an advantage; it??s also to bring them here so that the folks that are around here, my constituents down here, hear from them in a louder voice,?? he said.
Governor Rick Snyder has even commended U.P. lawmakers for their ability to represent such a massive area with such diversity in cultures.
??In the history of Michigan, in so many different ways, people spent time sort of fighting or disagreeing within the state. A real power is when we work together and acknowledge we??re all Michiganders because when you take that diversity and those different perspectives and combine them all out, we can out-compete anybody in the world,?? said Snyder.
Casperson said he works closely with State Representatives Ed McBroom, John Kivela, and Scott Dianda on a number of issues: something Governor Snyder said is admirable.
??I actually think they??re a great role model that I wish more legislators would look at coming from a common area,?? said Snyder. ??They find ways to find common ground and solve problems together. Partisanship isn??t a huge issue when I typically work with them. That??s something I really admire. I think people should be proud of the legislators in the U.P. about what a great team they are.??
Ultimately, Casperson said though the state still has a ways to go, the top priority for our U.P. legislators is to push the U.P. to be the very best it can be.
??I have no problem whatsoever with growing the U.P., and we??re not going to grow it to become a Grand Rapids or a Detroit. We??ll never be that, nor do we want that. I don??t think we do,?? said Casperson. ??But I do think that we want to have decent jobs and put our people to work. There??s a lot of opportunities there, and I think we should do everything that we can to promote it.??