MARQUETTE - As U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, readies himself for another year of campaigning, this time against Democratic opponent Jerry Cannon, he'll first have to win the Republican nomination over challenger Alan Arcand.
Arcand, 36, of Iron River announced his intention to run for the U.S. House Monday outside of Dickinson County Memorial Hospital.
"I thought about it for a long time and I really think we need a good leader for this district," Arcand said in an interview with The Mining Journal Tuesday afternoon. "Someone with integrity, someone who will uphold the Constitution, when they say something they follow through on it."
Arcand said he thought he could do a better job than Benishek keeping in touch with his constituents back home. Arcand said he would use online technology, such as Twitter and Facebook, to help keep the lines of communication open, something Benishek is sometimes criticized for not doing.
"I definitely know that I haven't ran into many of his constituents that are in favor of him, or that feel that he does anything for them," Arcand said. "He's disenfranchised a lot of his constituents."
On the issues, Arcand said he would always look to follow the Constitution.
He said he disagrees with the Affordable Care Act as it relates to the individual mandate that requires all people to buy health insurance or pay a fine.
"I think the health care is huge," Arcand said. "I believe health care should be between a doctor and a patient, not the doctor, the patient and the government, and that really needs to be addressed. ... I'm not in favor of the government telling you you have to buy something like the individual mandate. With any bill that's coming up, it should cite where in the Constitution it allows you to have that legislation."
Arcand, who runs Arcand's Service Center in Iron Mountain with his wife Nancy, is an Air Force veteran. He served as a fighter jet mechanic, working on F-15s at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina. He was later transferred to Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Fla., where he served as an aviation maintenance instructor his final four years in the military. He was medically discharged in 2009 following a back injury sustained while on active duty.
As a disabled veteran, Arcand said he has a perspective on veterans issues that differs from Benishek.
"I am a disabled veteran. I work with veterans every day," Arcand said. "I provide free oil changes every year at the shop. I have veterans' discounts, I work with the VA, I'm a VA contractor."
And Arcand is also a VA patient. He said benefits for veterans could be better.
"These people put their lives on the line to serve their country. We should do all we can to take care of these people," Arcand said. "When you sign up for the military, you're there for the duration. Whatever they want, you've gotta do it. You're doing it for your country."
Arcand said he is pro-gun and in favor of limited government and limited taxation.
He said he believes the 16th amendment, which allows for the federal government to directly levy an income tax, is an intrusion on personal liberty.
"The founders knew that if you directly tax the individual, you're taking their personal liberties away, and that's why (the Constitution) was written that way," Arcand said. (The 16th amendment) takes money out of individuals' pockets. Chief Justice John Marshall said 'The power to tax is the power to destroy.' And that's true."
In general, Arcand said he is a man who keeps his promises and that he would continue to do that if he were elected.
"I think we can do better," Arcand said. "We need somebody with integrity to lead us, to represent the district."
When he's not working on his bid for a seat in the U.S. House or running his auto shop, Arcand said he enjoys spending time with his wife and three sons, ages 9, 6 and 5.
For more information on Arcand and his campaign, visit www.arcandforcongress.com.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.