GRAND RAPIDS — Republican U.S. representative-elect Peter Meijer announced Thursday that he wants to “get back to the core values of limited government, economic freedom and individual liberty.”
Meijer defeated Democratic challenger Hillary Scholten 53-47 percent in Tuesday’s election for the 3rd Congressional District seat, which roughly spans from Kent County south to Battle Creek. The 32-year-old will fill U.S. Rep. Justin Amash’s seat in Congress after Amash left the GOP and decided not to run for re-election.
On the heels of his win, Meijer spoke to members of the media on Thursday morning in front of his World War II-era Quonset campaign hut in downtown Grand Rapids. He was asked multiple times how he feels about election results coming in slower than past years and how the Trump campaign is pushing to stop counting absentee votes, which have been largely in support of Joe Biden.
“It’s most important that every vote is counted and counted accurately,” Meijer said. “If that means having to exercise some patience, then so be it.”
Meijer added that voters should have faith in the process.
“I think we’re going to have to wait and see, the legal process will do its job and we’ve often seen in close races in the past it comes down to that and that’s not a failure of the process,” Meijer said. “That’s the process working and making sure everything is transparent and above board.”
Meijer said this year has been an example of why it is important to have effective leadership at a global level and push decision making down to empower lower levels of government.
When asked if he would support more aid for small business owners that have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Meijer said supporting small businesses has to be a top priority in Congress.
“I’m a strong believer that government should be a mechanism of stability and certainty,” Meijer said. “We need more clarity on things like the forgivability of PPP loans and how the CARES Act is granted.”
Meijer said his other priorities include protecting the Great Lakes, ending “endless wars,” and ensuring the country’s national defense is well-positioned. Meijer is the grandson of Frederik Meijer and served in Iraq in 2010 as a non-commissioned officer.
Meijer continued the trend of West Michigan electing a Republican to Congress, but the district has been trending more moderate politically in recent years. This year Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden won Kent County by more than 20,000 votes, initial results show.
Meijer stressed Thursday that he wants to represent West Michigan voters from both parties. He said he is “optimistic” about working across the aisle and finding bipartisan solutions.
Meijer will also be one of the youngest members of Congress.
“It’s important that the Republican party looks more like the country as a whole and that our government looks more like who we represent,” Meijer said.