ENG: Gary Peters (born December 1, 1958) is the U.S. Representative for Michigan's 14th congressional district, serving in Congress since 2009. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Prior to his election to Congress, Peters represented the 14th District in the Michigan Senate and was a political science professor at Central Michigan University. Following the redrawing of congressional district boundaries after the 2010 United States Census, Peters announced that he would run for re-election, running in the newly redrawn 14th congressional district and won.
Early life, education, and military service
Peters was born December 1, 1958 in Oakland County, where he grew up. He graduated from Alma College in 1980 and received a master of business administration degree from the University of Detroit in 1984.
Peters also holds a degree from the Wayne State University Law School and an M.A. in philosophy from Michigan State University.
Peters served as a Lieutenant Commander and a Seabee Combat Warfare Specialist in the United States Navy Reserve. His reserve duty included time in the Persian Gulf supporting Operation Southern Watch, and he served overseas during increased military activity following the September 11, 2001 attacks. During his service he received awards and citations, including the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.
Business and academic career
Peters served as the third Griffin Endowed Chair in American Government at Central Michigan University from 2007 until his election to Congress. Peters also has taught finance at Wayne State and strategic management and business policy courses at Oakland University.
He has also been a senior policy and financial analyst for the Michigan Department of Treasury and a financial manager at Merrill Lynch, and has served on arbitration panels for the National Association of Securities Dealers and the New York Stock Exchange.
Michigan Senate - Elections
In November 1994, Peters was elected to the Michigan Senate to represent the Oakland County-based 14th district.
He was re-elected in 1998 and served until 2002, when he was compelled to retire owing to the law on term limits. Peters was succeeded in the 14th district by Gilda Jacobs.
The district is one of the most diverse state Senate districts—containing nearly every racial, ethnic and religious group in Michigan. Located in southeastern Oakland County, it includes the cities of Huntington Woods, Southfield, and Oak Park.
Peters was chosen by his Democratic colleagues to chair his party's caucus. He was also a member of the Michigan Law Revision Commission and served on the Michigan Sentencing Commission. Both the Michigan State House of Representatives and the Senate passed a bill sponsored by Peters which banned any new wells under the state waters of the Great Lakes except in case of a state energy emergency. The bill passed into law without the signature of Governor John Engler.
Peters supported a bill that led to the criminalization of the possession of body armor by convicted felons. He also wrote a bill that was the initial establishment of penalties for false threats of chemical and biological weapons, which became law before the September 11, 2001 attacks.
2002 statewide elections
In his final year as a member of the Michigan Senate, Peters was a candidate for governor and later for Attorney General. As the Democratic nominee for attorney general, he lost to Republican Mike Cox. Peters came within 5,200 votes of Cox—less than a 0.17 percent margin. Peters decided not to contest the election results despite reported irregularities.
Several mistakes were reportedly found during analysis, including a precinct in Dearborn which recorded Peters with 96 votes when he actually had 396. The race was the closest statewide contest in Michigan since the 1950 gubernatorial race.
Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm appointed Peters as the Michigan Lottery commissioner on April 9, 2003.
U.S. House of Representatives - Elections - 2008
On August 7, 2007, Peters ended months of speculation by formally announcing he would run against Joe Knollenberg for his congressional seat. Peters resigned as state lottery commissioner to devote his full energy to the campaign.
Knollenberg was considered vulnerable due to an increasing Democratic trend in what was once a heavily Republican district. He was nearly defeated in 2006 by Nancy Skinner, a former radio talk-show host who spent virtually no money, leading the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to target him for defeat.
Knollenberg's opponents in 2002 and 2004 performed significantly below the Democratic base in the 9th District.
National Democrats and local pundits considered Peters to be a strong candidate. In the 2002 state attorney general race, Peters performed at or above the Democratic base in 72 percent of the 9th District precincts. In his 1998 state Senate campaign, he performed at or above base in 99 percent of the precincts.
Peters easily won the November 4 election by 33,524 votes, taking 52 percent of the vote to Knollenberg's 43 percent. Barack Obama carried Oakland County by 15 points; roughly two-thirds of Oakland County is in the 9th. He is only the fourth person to represent this district since its creation in 1933, and the first Democrat (it was the 17th District from 1933 to 1953, the 18th from 1953 to 1973, the 19th from 1973 to 1983, the 18th again from 1983 to 1993, the 11th from 1993 to 2003 and has been the 9th since 2003).
Peters defeated challenges by Republican Andrew (Rocky) Raczkowski, Libertarian Adam Goodman, Independent Bob Gray, Independent Matthew Kuofie, and Green Douglas Campbell.
Due to the state's population decline, as reflected by the 2010 Federal Census, Michigan lost one congressional district. As a result of the subsequent redistricting of house seats, much of Peters' 9th district, including his home in Bloomfield Hills, was merged with the 12th district, represented by fellow Democrat Sandy Levin. The new district retained Peters' district number—the 9th—but geographically was more Levin's district.
In September 2011, Peters opted to run in the newly redrawn 14th district. The reconfigured district is based in Detroit, but contains a large chunk of his old State Senate district and portions of his current congressional district. In the August 2012 Democratic primary, he defeated 13th District Congressman Hansen Clarke (whose residence is in the 13th, but opted to follow most of his constituents into the new 14th) and Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence. The 14th is a heavily Democratic, 58 percent black-majority district, and Peters was overwhelmingly favored in November. As expected, he crushed Republican John Hauler in the general election with 82 percent of the vote--one of the largest margins for a Democrat facing major-party opposition. He will be the first white congressman to represent a significant portion of Detroit since 1993.
Gary Peters was sworn into his first term in January 2009. During his time in office, he's voted for all of the major Democratic issues including the Recovery Act, Affordable Care Act, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and the DREAM Act.
Peters worked with the Obama Administration to get GM and Chrysler the loans they needed to survive. For his work, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank said Peters was the "single most effective person" in fighting against the forces that wanted to let Detroit go bankrupt. In Congress, Peters worked to stop the GOP from cutting $1.5 billion from the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program. Peters also played a role in writing and passing the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act as one of 10 Democratic members of Congress tasked to serve on the Conference Committee. In this capacity, Peters worked to include his Shareholder Empowerment Act in the final legislation. This legislation gave shareholders the power to vote on CEO bonuses and wages.
Peters helped lead President Obama's effort in Congress to prevent subsidized Stafford student loan rates from doubling on July 1. Peters is the lead co-sponsor on H.R. 3826 which would prevent this rate hike. Back in Michigan, Peters has held events calling for Republicans to stop opposing this cut.
In March 2010, The Hill reported that Peters “may have violated House franking rules.” In a press release, he had criticized Sen. Jim Bunning and “called on 'everyone who cares about this issue' to call Bunning’s office, and provided the number.” The Hill noted that “House franking rules bar members from using press releases for 'grassroots lobbying or soliciting support for a member’s position on a legislative, public policy or community issue,' according to House regulations on the use of the franking privilege.”
In July 2010, the Michigan Messenger wrote that Peters was "criticizing the leadership of his own party. Peters and three other Democratic legislators...this week formed the Spending Cuts and Deficit Reduction Working Group and proposed a series of bills to cut spending. Peters’ bill makes cuts in the federal energy budget.” “We have been growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of action and talking about specifics and putting those on the table,” Peters said. “We’ve been frustrated with both Democratic leadership and Republicans.”
Peters allied himself with the Occupy Wall Street movement, making an appearance at Occupy Detroit on November 6. Speaking to reporters, he stated: "It's speculation on Wall Street that we're still paying the price for here, particularly in Detroit that almost brought the auto industry to a collapse because of what we saw on Wall Street. So we put in restrictions, or put in regulations necessary to reign that in, and right now in Washington I’m facing a Republican majority that wants to undo that."
On the issue of abortion, Peters has received (100%) ratings consistently from pro-choice groups such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America. In addition, he was one of 118 house democrats who signed a letter to the president urging him to support the United National Population Fund (UNFPA), a multinational organization that provides health services (including Birth control) to women, children and families in over 150 countries.
Peters is married to Colleen Ochoa from Waterford and they have three children. They reside in Bloomfield Hills.
February 8, 2013