MENOMINEE — After 20 years of active service, Matt Morgan didn’t retire from the Marines with the plan to enter politics.

“My wife, Angie, is originally from the U.P. We met in the Marines Corp and she shared her passion of the U.P. with me. We decided that upon retiring from the Corp we would return to her roots. I am from a rural Midwestern agriculture background. Moving to the U.P. with my wife and family was exactly what we planned to raise our family. I had no thoughts of a political agenda until the election of 2016,” Morgan said. 

During the last election cycle, Morgan looked at the available choices and worked with locals to encourage someone strong to run for the congressional seat. In the end, he felt there wasn’t anyone available with strong community ties that would suit. After discussions with his family, Morgan decided to run for the 1st Congressional District of Michigan. This area encompasses all of the U.P. and a slice of lower Michigan, approximately 25,000 square miles.

“I couldn’t ask anyone to do something I wasn’t ready to do myself,” he said. “it’s about offering a strong choice where there were no choices.”

Morgan began his military career after graduating from the University of Illinois at First Marine Division in California as an infantry officer. He was promoted throughout the years and eventually moved into being a spokesperson for various assignments. He was deployed several times overseas, including postings in Ethiopia and Kenya.

“I’ve seen parts of the world that very few people have seen. Places where people are struggling to obtain the very basic needs. Food, water and shelter,” he said. 

On the Aquila Resources’ Back Forty Mine, Morgan said that we have an important role in managing our natural resources.

“The Back Forty Mine process is working as it should. The EPA has stepped in and we are currently in a response period. The Army Corp of Engineers are involved. Everyone has a duty to protect our Great Lakes and we have a shared concern about restoring the lakes as they are supposed to be. Mining is an important asset. It feeds our families. As long as we can do it responsibly, protecting our investment and keeping our water and air clean, mining should be allowed. Proper scrutiny must be given to the operator given the proximity to the Menominee River,” he said.  

Morgan takes a strong stance on education, and said that he wants to see more investment broadband so that all communities have access to high speed internet. Much of the district is very rural and lack internet, not only for education but for employment.

“Cable and internet companies don’t service rural areas because they lose money. It is too costly for them to lay the fiber optics for the small return they would get. I’d like to put into place a subsidy much like they did under the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1933 to bring electricity to all homes. Once broadband and high speed internet is available, work from home options begin to open up. Educational programs can be used and shared to a greater audience,” Morgan said. 

A strong supporter of apprenticeship programs, Morgan feels that kids are missing opportunities by not making more apprenticeships available.

“They help to prepare kids for life. We currently have two paths: A four-year degree to a better job, or an unskilled labor position. We need a clear career path for technical education and encourage more people to engage in skilled trade,” he said.

Morgan spoke of his disappointment in the U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. He was very disappointed to see that she rescinded the loan forgiveness program for individuals that worked in positions of service.

“A lot of families have children that want to go to college but can’t afford it,” he said. “This was a path where they could accomplish those goals. We can’t change the rules for people that are relying on our promises. We need to address the education inequality.”

Morgan recognizes the college debt crisis and feels there must be some creative way to address the issue. It’s one of the reasons why he wishes to be on the Education and Workforce committee. 

On jobs and wages, Morgan agreed that the unemployment rate was down, but “too many working families are working paycheck to paycheck or working multiple jobs.” The approach to make changes to this issue is multi-faceted, Morgan said. He said that closing the skill gap is the first step. This would be accomplished by investing in skilled trade education and working with workforce development. He wants to put into place continuing educational programs for skilled labor.

“No one can predict the future. Jobs change and we need to be able to change with it. We need to be looking down the road,” he said. 

Job automation is something that is happening more and is anticipated to continue, Morgan said.

“We need to develop short-term goals for right now, but we also need to plan for the future,” he said. “Most politicians think in cycles of two, four and six years because that is the political cycle, but we need to be thinking in terms of 30 years, 50 years, 100 years or more, as those are life cycles. We need to learn how to advocate for jobs that are not even around yet.”

On veteran services, Morgan has a strong stance against privatization of veteran’s health services. He feels that it would become ‘for profit,’ which he is opposed to. 

Morgan is very adamant that he will protect Social Security.

“It is fully funded, some things may need to be changed such as pulling the cap, but I will work to protect the program,” he said. 

Currently there is some question of whether Morgan will be on the primary ballot. On April 24, the civil servants at the Bureau of Elections notified Morgan’s campaign that they would be recommending that the Board of Canvassers vote to reject the ballot petitions due to a technicality.  The board meets in late May or early June.

The issue hinges on the verbiage on the nominating petitions. According to the Detroit Free Press, Michigan state law says, “an address of the candidate must be on the nominating petitions, without specifically prohibiting P.O. boxes.” It does indicate in parentheses that the address should be a street address or rural route. Morgan used a P.O. box number. 

Morgan has stated that he will be on the general election ballot, either because the Board of Canvassers votes to certify his nominating petition or because they will win a primary write-in campaign.