Dale Zorn seeking House seat in Lenawee County

State Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, is attempting to return to the Michigan House of Representatives, but this time as a resident of Lenawee County.

Zorn, who is leaving the senate due to term limits, has filed a petition to pursue a seat in the 34th District. Zorn, 68, is planning to move from his lifelong home in Ida to the family lake house at Sand Lake. He plans to meet the state’s requirement for running in Lenawee County by being a registered voter in the new 34th District by the filing deadline of April 19.

He is looking to return to the House where he was first elected in 2010 and served two, two-year terms. He then was elected to the Senate in 2014 and again in 2018. His days in the senate end this year due to term limits.

Zorn’s current home puts him on the dividing line between the 31st District, which has a 54% Democratic base, and the 30th, which has a 56% Republican base, according to the partisan fairness scoring used by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission in developing the state's new legislative maps.

The 34th is entirely in Lenawee County and has a 56.4% Republican base. His current Senate district includes this area. Three Republicans have already filed in the new 34th — Ryan Rank, Julie Moore and Melissa Dempsey, according to the Michigan Secretary of State's Office.

Prior to getting into state politics, Zorn served on the Raisinville Township board for 10 years and with the Monroe County Board of Commissioners for 20 years.

“You might say that it is in my blood, but that’s not the reason why I'm running," he said. "In the coming few years there’s going to be a big turnover in the House and the Senate, and the leadership of the House has been asking me to run to bring that experience back to the house for two years. I believe very strongly that the next couple of years is going to be a couple of tough years to navigate the ongoing COVID crisis and other issues that we have steering us that we have to work at.”

Zorn has been a lifelong resident of Ida, but has been going to his lake house in Sand Lake since his father built it in 1963. He played baseball in Tecumseh and went on his first date with his wife at the Lenawee County Fair. As a child, he said he spent seven to eight months out of the year at the house.

His uncle, Cal Zorn, was a city manager for Tecumseh for many years and a park on the south side of the city bears his name.

“My wife and I have been talking about going to the lake house for a long time. So this is going to give us the opportunity to do that. And it’s giving me the opportunity to continue with the great county of Lenawee,” Zorn said. “We’ve spent a lot of time in Lenawee and really appreciate Lenawee County as a very open, recreational county, especially with our lake house there. So we’re planning on coming over and that’s already in motion. I should be there very soon.”

Zorn sparked controversy in April 2020 when he wore a Confederate-style mask on the Senate floor. He apologized and has not been getting any comments as of late, he said.

“Why did I wear it? Because it was just a mask. There was no reason why I wore it. It was just a mask,” Zorn said.

Zorn brings with him experience in getting funds for local government, economic development and education geared toward rounding out the workforce.

“I'm currently the chairman of the local government committee, so I’m certainly interested in continuing to work with the local governments and providing them with the tools they need to provide services to the citizens of Lenawee County,” Zorn said. “I’m also very much involved in economic development where I have brought in millions of dollars to Lenawee County to help strengthen their economic development. I worked with Jim Van Doren (executive director of Lenawee Now) and others to help Adrian, Tecumseh and Clinton to restore their downtown areas such as façade grants and road grants.”

So what will Zorn do if elected to a two-year term and he reaches his term limitation in the House?

“I haven’t really thought too much about that. After that maybe I’ll just stay at our lake home and go fishing. I’m sure I will find something to do with my life,” Zorn said. “I’m very interested in growing our communities and helping them to sustain themselves and I’m sure somewhere along the line, I'll find something to do to help our communities to survive.”

The Monroe News