Rep. BeGole hopes past experience will serve him well in Lansing | Local News

LANSING — Former multi-term Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian BeGole (R-Antrim Township) is settling into his new post on the 10th floor of the Anderson House Office Building, a block or so from the state capitol.

The newly-minted state representative for District 71 was officially sworn in on Wednesday, but he had already familiarized himself with his new responsibilities.

Speaking on Tuesday, BeGole explained what he hoped to accomplish while in office.

“(After) 32 years serving the citizens of Shiawassee County, I saw an opportunity where I thought maybe I could put some of that law enforcement experience and some of the things I’ve experienced in my life to work for the people too,” he said.

BeGole said his legislative priorities for Shiawassee County will, appropriately, include issues related to law enforcement and agriculture.

“Obviously, economic improvement (will also be a focus.)” BeGole said. ” I have a son (George), he’s the youngest of our children, he’s 10. I want him and (future) generations … to have the same opportunities that I’ve had.”

BeGole said he’d like to see more widespread use of Michigan-made products, including turning corn into ethanol, and he’d like to see more things be made in the state.

Committee assignments — where much of the hard work of the Legislature gets done — had not yet been done out on Tuesday. BeGole said that he had requested to be placed on the House Judiciary Committee, where he felt he could bring some of his prior work experience to bear.

He has since been assigned to the Criminal Justice and Energy, Communications and Technology Committees, which would seem to provide just much of a synergistic fit.

BeGole’s office staff is already fielding calls and complaints from constituents. The task of answering their concerns is one he looks forward to tackling.

“The phone was ringing on the first day with problems,” he reported. “We’re already pulled up to the desk and we’re already working on some of their problems, so hopefully some of them will be resolved soon.”

One particular bill he’s been asked for input on is concerned with law enforcement. It would provide for saliva analysis with a small portable device for testing whether a driver has been using marijuana, similar to what is currently used to gauge blood-alcohol levels.

Having spent a fair amount of time on road patrol, BeGole said he believes his contributions to that type of legislation would be of value.

Whatever BeGole hopes to accomplish in his freshman session will have to involve cooperation across the aisle, with Democrats holding a governance trifecta as the majority party in every branch of state government.

Can the new representative work effectively with Democrats to get things done? Begole says he can.

“I’ve been doing it all my life. That’s what I do,” he said. “I think half of that is being someone who listens well.”

BeGole told of meeting fellow freshman Rep. Donavan McKinney of Detroit, identifying him as the “first friend” among his colleagues.

The two sat across from each other at an orientation session. “I was the only Republican in a 12-member group they broke us up into,” BeGole recalled.

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