Emily’s Story

Rick Stivers survived a 2006 heart transplant and walked his daughter Emily down the aisle in June 2013.

In 2005, I quit my job and moved into my parents’ basement. My dad was seriously ill, waiting for a heart transplant. He had an electrical device that pumped inside his chest, wired through an incision in his stomach to two large batteries he wore in holsters around his shoulders. He had to have someone with him 24/7 to change the batteries, sterilize the entry wound, and, if he was unconscious, tell paramedics what he had going on because if they used a defibrillator on him, he would die. My mom’s employer-provided health insurance was paying for his equipment, so I stepped up to take care of him.

At that time, my brother Adam was a mortgage broker, and he faced a horrible catch-22. Families were coming to him, having been sold subprime mortgages, and they were now going into foreclosure. Adam had two options: he could sell them a WORSE subprime mortgage to get them through another year, or he could do nothing, and allow them to lose their homes right away.

Those options were NOT GOOD ENOUGH. And so I stepped up. I started a credit counseling service. I walked people through their credit reports, taught them how their scores work and how they could improve them in the short and long term, and they signed Power of Attorney over to me so I could dispute inaccurate negative information to the credit bureaus on their behalf. I helped families raise their credit scores by as much as 200 points – that’s the difference between a subprime mortgage, and a fair one, with a reasonable interest rate and a monthly payment they could afford. I helped hundreds of families keep their homes at the onset of the Great Recession.

My dad eventually got his heart transplant. And as a result, he got to be there when I graduated from one of the top Public Policy graduate programs in the country. He got to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day. And he got to hold his grandson in his arms.

Our experience is why I believe in science. I believe in medicine. I believe in organ donation. And I believe healthcare, even as expensive as what my dad needed, is the human right of every person in Ingham County – and every person in this country.

That time also taught me what seniors, disabled people, and their caregivers are struggling with every day. We don’t give our caregivers enough credit for the incredible emotional, mental and physical labor they do. And we certainly don’t pay them enough.

I also learned that our financial system in this country is a racket that prays on the uneducated and condemns too many innocent people to a cycle of poverty. It’s not good enough.

Emily, Jason, and AJ at the 2017 Women’s March in Lansing, MI

In total, I have spent 15 years in the public sector, fighting poverty, helping young people build the social and emotional skills they need to overcome obstacles, and serving as vice chair on Meridian Township’s Zoning Board of Appeals and a Planning Commissioner. I am a wife, the mother of a wonderful and mischievous toddler, and my family has made our permanent home in Meridian Township.

After the 2016 election, I realized I needed to take my activism to the next level. Faced with our urgent community needs to fix our roads, protect our marginalized populations, and make smart investments in renewable energy, running for office quickly changed from an idea in the back of my head to a pressing priority.

I hope to be elected Ingham County Commissioner for District 11 because I have the ideas, the energy, and the experience to make our community better.