Lawmaker balances home, new role - 05/25/05
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News from Royal Oak, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Madison Heights, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Hazel Park, Clawson

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

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Al Goldis / Associated Press

Along with being a state representative, Marie Donigan, D-Royal Oak, is one of 30 women among the state's 148 representatives and senators.

Lawmaker balances home, new role

State representative is trying to pass bill that lifts drug companies' immunity to lawsuits.

Image
Al Goldis / Associated Press

Donigan serves on two House committees: Natural Resources, Great Lakes, Land Use and Environment; and Local Government and Urban Policy.

About Marie Donigan

Age: 50

New job: State representative for Royal Oak and Madison Heights

Background: Landscape architect and planner, city of Farmington Hills; Royal Oak City Commissioner.

Family: Husband, Kevin McLogan, president of the Royal Oak School Board; and two step-sons, Ian and Ross.

Education: Western Michigan University, bachelor's in natural science; University of Pennsylvania, master's in landscape architecture.

Most admired person: Martin Luther King Jr.

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Al Goldis / Associated Press

Donigan grew up in Royal Oak on North Vermont, between Gardenia and 12 Mile roads. She graduated from Dondero High School in 1972.

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ROYAL OAK -- Deep roots keep State Rep. Marie Donigan grounded despite her new career in Lansing.

A landscape architect and planner for 15 years and former Royal Oak city commissioner, Donigan won the State Representative's seat for District 26 (Royal Oak and Madison Heights) last fall. Her new job started on Jan. 1.

Today, Donigan commutes regularly to Lansing to vote on legislation and serve on two House committees: Natural Resources, Great Lakes, Land Use and Environment; and Local Government and Urban Policy. Donigan is one of 30 women among the state's 148 representatives and senators.

The Detroit News caught up with her at Caribou Coffee in downtown Royal Oak to talk about growing up in Royal Oak and how she is adjusting to her new responsibilities in Lansing.

Q: Where were you born and raised?

A: I'm a fourth-floor baby. I was born on the fourth floor of the Washington Square Building when it was Royal Oak Hospital. This was before Beaumont (hospital) was built. I have a brother, Bruce, and we grew up on North Vermont between Gardenia and 12 Mile roads. I graduated from Dondero High School in 1972. My mom was a high school Latin teacher and my dad was a commercial artist.

Q: What do you think are the most important state issues facing Royal Oak and Madison Heights?

A: The most important issue in the state is jobs. Second is funding for public education. We want to make sure as many kids as possible go to college. We have to think about what our economy will look like, not what our economy has been.

Q: Why did you get involved in politics?

A: I thought I could make an impact. I worked for a city government in Farmington Hills. Then I started watching city commission meetings in Royal Oak. Someone said, "If you want to run, I'll help you." Before I ran for state representative, I was on the state's domestic violence board. I'm a freshman in a minority party, but what I can control is, I can take my proposals on the road.

Q: What were you doing right before this interview?

A: I was at a press conference in Farmington Hills for legislation that I'm working on. Michigan is the only state that gives immunity to drug companies from lawsuits, so if a Michigan citizen is harmed by a drug, there's no mechanism for that citizen to go to court. I'm working to repeal that 1996 Michigan law.

Q: What is most challenging about your new job?

A: Trying to keep up with an enormous amount of e-mail and a schedule with all the people who want to meet with me. I have a stack of reading I try to get to once a week, and there are always special events in Lansing for advocacy groups. It's hard to be at three things from noon to 1 p.m., but my staff keeps me organized. There are events in the evening, too, which I don't attend.

Q: Why not?

A: I come home every night. There's been one bad day where I stayed over. But I carpool to work and back with one of my staff members. It's important for me to be here in Royal Oak. It takes about an hour and 15 minutes to commute, sometimes two hours, depending when I leave. But I'm married to Kevin McLogan for one and a half years, so we're newlyweds. If I can get back home, I'd just as soon get home.

Cindy Hampel is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.



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