The past two years have been a bit of a homecoming for State Rep. Anthony Forlini, R-Harrison Township.
Forlini spent his childhood in St. Clair Shores, and when he returned to the city as a candidate in 2010, he encountered childhood friends and their parents who still live in the community and know him as "Anthony" and not the less-formal "Tony."
"For me it is a sad time," said Forlini, who admires the sense of community in St. Clair Shores. "I grew up in the Shores and I was so excited to run in the Shores."
But under redistricting, Forlini's district—which included Harrison Township and St. Clair Shores—was redrawn, and it omitted his childhood home and included Clinton Township. While today is his first day representing this new district, Forlini recently spoke to Patch about his first term in Lansing.
While he no longer will represent the city, he will continue to fight for issues which will likely affect St. Clair Shores. One of the main issues will include the lake.
"Lakefront issues are always going to be near and dear to my heart," Forlini said. "I think it is the economic driver of Macomb County."
During his term, Forlini was able to bring issues such as e. coli, lake muck and the importance of Lake St. Clair to the attention of Gov. Rick Snyder and director of the Department of Environmental Quality.
"I was able to get (the DEQ Director) buy-in that Lake St. Clair was a very important lake and an important thing we all should be fighting for. That never happened before," he said.
"My focus is what are the problems so we can fix them," he added. "Let’s stop vacillating on issues that really aren’t real, or causes that aren’t real. Let's focus on real issues that develop change."
Throughout Forlini's term he worked across the aisle on many issues, and the nine bills he introduced were passed. But one particular bill he didn't follow most of his party was the right-to-work legislation.
Forlini, who is the only Republican who had a majority of his district south of 16 Mile Road, stated that during his coffee hours and meetings with residents his constituents were against the legislation.
"It wasn’t terribly difficult because I was voting my district," said Forlini. "I always see both sides of an issue. With this one here, personally where I stood wasn’t as important as where my district stood."
He added that he would have preferred to have seen further discussion and a statewide referendum.
Looking back, and forward
When Forlini ran, his platform included the environment, bringing kids back to Michigan and bringing jobs back to the state.
"I lived up to just about everything I represented," he said.
He also plans on continuing to build on the successes and fight government waste. Forlini cited one example of how the Treasury Department used to consider a tax return unfiled if there was a line left blank and looked back over 10 years of returns and sent a business owner a bill for $180,000.
"He had to shut his business down," Forlini said. "There is a huge abuse of power."
Working with his colleagues, he was able to get a bill passed that changed this practice.
"I love taking on government and their abuses," he said.
But when he boils down the issues, it is about the people that sent him to Lansing that determines his vote.
"That is what the word representatives means, represent the people in your district and fight for the causes that are near and dear to them," Forlini said. "Not near and dear to me, near and dear to them."