Novi Today Magazine
In many ways, Jim Runestad is your ordinary husband, father and grandfather. He works around the house, he volunteers, he babysits his grandchildren, and he loves being a father. Indeed, Jim Runestad is no stranger to sitting in the audience during his daughter’s practices and competitions.
But what the other parents in the audience may not fully realize is that Jim Runestad is also the first-term state senator for Oakland County, representing over 270,000 people in western Oakland County.
To most, being a parent and a state senator may seem like a lot to handle. But to Jim Runestad, it makes perfect sense. In fact, it’s exactly why he ran for office in the first place – to make a difference for hard-working families.
In 2010, Michigan was in a bad way. At the height of the great recession, unemployment was over 15 percent, the state budget was a mess, and our public schools and local families were suffering the consequences.
Runestad saw what was happening and knew he couldn’t just sit by and watch Oakland County families continue to suffer. As a former educator, he knew he had to do something to invest in our schools and our children. As a small-business owner, he thought he could do something to push policies that create good-paying jobs and a healthier economy. And as a foster parent, he knew that Michigan needed to do more to look out for its most vulnerable.
Fast forward nearly a decade later, and Michigan is in a much different place. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is Runestad’s commitment to family, and to making a difference for families in our community.
His legislation tells a similar story. In his four-and-a-half years in the state legislature, Runestad has championed causes such as protecting seniors from fraud and abuse, increasing education funding, and fighting corruption in government. Among his proudest accomplishments is the passing of a “foster care bill of rights” that put into law quality-of-care standards for children in the foster care system.
When asked what legislation he’s currently working on, the senator is anything but short on ideas. He wants to make sure residents of nursing homes are permitted to install security cameras in their own rooms so that families know their loved ones are safe. Runestad is currently part of the team working to find more funding to fix our roads without raising taxes. And the Senator is also the lead sponsor of a bill that would create a Suicide Prevention Commission in Michigan.
“It’s about time we do something to fight this epidemic,” Runestad said. “We need to pull together our experts and actually do something to fight the root causes of suicide and help those struggling with suicidal thoughts.”
When Runestad isn’t working to pass his bills, or meeting with local residents about their concerns, you can usually find him spending time with his wife, Kathy, and their children and grandchildren.
No matter what political issue it is that comes up in a day’s work, it’s not hard to see how much Runestad truly values family. And it’s not hard to figure out how that motivates him to do what he does.
“As legislators, it’s our job to work on behalf of families, to be their voice,” Runestad said. “We owe it to them to do whatever we can for families, children, seniors, the most vulnerable – everyone. So if there’s something that I can do to make life just a little bit easier for folks, then I’m going to do all I can to make that happen.”
This article appeared in the fall 2019 edition of Novi Today Magazine. State Sen. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, represents Michigan’s 15th District.