IRON RIVER—Alan Arcand doesn’t seem afraid of taking on a major challenge. After all, he recently announced plans to take on two-term U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek for the Republican First District nomination in the August primary.
Arcand, who announced his candidacy on Jan. 13, is a Republican precinct delegate in Caspian but otherwise has not run for office before.
“I think it caught a lot of people off-guard,” Arcand said about his decision to run. “The incumbent does have a lot of money in his war chest to run a campaign.
“But really, I believe it’s up to the people to decide. I’m going to give them a choice. You don’t have to always settle for the lesser of two evils, the Democrat or the Republican running.”
Arcand is 37 and was born here, raised in Stambaugh and later moved to Bates Township. He graduated from West Iron County High School in 1997.
After graduating, he worked at Northland Service and then entered the U.S. Air Force, becoming an F-15 jet mechanic in North Carolina for four years. He then went to Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, where he taught jet mechanics. While in the military, he earned two associate degrees and one bachelor’s degree.
After an eight-year Air Force career, he left and opened a garage in Iron Mountain. He is married and has three sons.
Leaving the military freed him to get involved in politics. In 2012, he was a state delegate for the Republican party and elected as one of Michigan’s voting delegates at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
“I felt like I needed to participate more to help change,” he said. “I believe in the Constitution and the way it was made and a lot of what the Founding Fathers taught. We have a lot of people who don’t vote that way in our country.”
Those beliefs led him to challenge Benishek for the Republican First District nomination. “I think we can do better,” he said. He cited Benishek’s vote to raise the debt ceiling and “saying that he’s going to repeal and defund Obamacare and then actually votes to funds it.”
The issue that seems to bother him the most, though, is Benishek’s vote on extending the Patriot Act.
“You can’t vote away your Fourth Amendment rights with the Patriot Act—spying on innocent Americans,” he said. “By voting that in, you’re circumventing the Fourth Amendment.”
“These are issues that a lot of people, like myself, have. You take that oath to be a congressman. I took an oath being military to support and defend the Constitution. The congressman also takes an oath to defend that Constitution, and that’s how he should be voting.”
As for deciding to run against the incumbent, Arcand said, “Some people consider I’ve upset the applecart a little bit. Some don’t like you challenging the incumbent: They see it as they [the Republicans] already have the seat, and we don’t need you—whether or not the incumbent is the best choice for the people.”
Arcand also wants to see mining re-established in the Upper Peninsula to improve the economy.
“I’d love to help facilitate them,” he said. “We have the richest ore in the world. We have the railways, the waterways, the resources—but we’re not allowed to bring them to the market, stifling the business. Government gets involved and says ‘You can’t do this, and you can’t do that.’
“I’d like to work with the mines in the area to get that going. It creates job, it stimulates the economy, it’s good for the whole U.P. It affects everybody living here.”
Arcand acknowledged environmental concerns about a return to the mining days. “But with modern technology, we can bring those things to the market with a very minimal impact on the environment. It’s been proven. That’s one of the best resources the U.P. has, other than logging.
“We’ve got the best iron ore, we’ve got the copper. I’ve heard there’s uranium in the mines. Why can’t we bring it to the market?
“That would really help bring a lot of jobs to the area and stimulate the economies in a lot of areas.”
The new campaign’s website is arcandforcongress.com, and there is also an Arcand for Congress page on Facebook.