Rep. Bill Rogers (R-Brighton) will retain his office as the 42nd District State Representative after defeating Democratic opponent Shanda Willis Tuesday night, according to unofficial results from the Livingston County Clerk's Office.
Rogers, who was first elected to the office in 2008, received 31,428 votes, with all 46 precincts reporting. Willis received 16,453 votes while Libertarian candidate James Lewis received 1,828 votes.
Rogers said while he was not personally thrilled overall on election night, he is happy both himself and Rep. Cindy Denby (R-Hartland) will be back for another term to continue what they started.
"It still is all about jobs. We have to make sure we can get people back to work. I still look at my particular industry - the homebuilding industry - and it's improved ever so slightly but not enough to call it remotely close to a recovery. That's a lot of people not doing what they used to be doing. That's going to be the primary focus."
Willis said she really hopes Rogers will use his time in office to work to restore and improve funding in public schools.
Rogers said the federal government cut school funding more than the state, and the state legislature has shifted money over to community colleges, which is still education.
"Throwing money at it again is not a solution. We have to make sure how we set this up that the kids are getting educated for the future and we fund it appropriately. We have been working on that. Why are college kids coming out school with the debt they're coming out of and they can't get jobs? Why are we still sending working kids out of state, for instances - teachers? Because they can't get a job here. We're working on it a lot more than people want to give us credit for. We have been very diligent about it."
Rogers said he's talked with teachers that have admitted students are not up to reading levels they should be or who have students that score poorly on the MEAP test, and these are problems that need to be addressed.
"There's a lot more issues than just talking about a dollar and a cent," he said.
Willis said the whole election process has been an incredible journey for her.
"I've met so many wonderful people and I'm trying to figure out how to put into words my thanks for all the people who have come out and supported me, knocked on doors with me, made phone calls for me," she said. "The pats on the back and the encouragement has just been incredible. I'm extremely fortunate."
Willis said she's looking forward to running again in 2014.