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