State Rep. Brian Elder sworn into 96th District office


By Andrew Dodson,

BAY CITY, MI -- Brian Elder's first week on the job isn't much different than anyone else's.

Setup a voicemail message, make sure the wireless internet is working, install some dry erase boards.

"You know, the nuts and bolts type stuff," Elder said.

In the coming weeks, though, he'll be lobbying for committee assignments, establishing new relationships in Lansing and, most ambitiously, figuring out how to strengthen the working class.

Elder, a Democrat who was elected to his first term as the state representative for Michigan's 96th House District, was sworn in to his new position Thursday, Jan. 5, by Bay County Chief Judge Dawn Klida.

Elder became choked up during his speech Thursday in the courtroom, reflecting on his "pop's" work ethic in the auto industry.

"Do your job, do your job, do your job," he said. "Focusing on work itself is always better than titles or statuses. As state representative, I'm going to focus on those lessons and be the best possible person I can be."

Elder, who is one of 42 new lawmakers in the state House, was appointed to one of the four assistant floor leader positions and the only incoming representative to be named to the Committee for Committees for the Democratic Caucus, where he will assist in placing Democratic members into the various House committees.

Elder hopes to be involved with the agriculture and energy committees.

"The 96th District is one of two democratically-held districts that has a significant agriculture economy," he said. "My interest in energy is because we still have a Consumers Energy plant in Bay County, in addition to major energy consumers, like Dow Chemical and GM Powertrain."

Committee assignments are expected to take place in the coming weeks.

Elder, an attorney, continues to practice law while in the state House, but by appointment only when not he's not in session. He said he'll focus primarily on estate planning and probate work.

Elder replaces Charles Brunner, who served as the 96th District's state representative since 2010.

Elder's office in Lansing is located on the 12th floor of the Anderson House Office Building with views of the Michigan Capitol Building and the intersection of Ottawa Street and Capitol Avenue in Lansing.

His staff consists of one full-time staff person -- Mark Salogar, who is a legislative aide -- and one part-time legislative aide, Jacob Littlejohn.

Above the door to Elder's office is a sign that reads "Help Wanted: No Irish Need Apply." On his desk are some family photos and some political paraphernalia, including a framed quote by Harry Truman that reads, "I never gave anybody Hell. I just told them the truth, and they thought it was Hell."

Thursday's ceremony gave those in attendance an opportunity to offer a comment to Elder that becomes part of the official court record.

Jeff Mayes, who served as the 96th District representative from 2005-2010, said Elder possesses a "unique set of skills" that will benefit him in Lansing.

"His legal background, his strategic mind, and his ability to create relationships will benefit our community at the State Capitol," he said.

Carly Fox