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Elizabeth Jacobs (R-MI-9)

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Name: Elizabeth Sarah Jacobs
Date of Birth: June 6, 1934
Place of Birth: Leland, MI
Place of Residence: Lake Leelanau, MI
Party: Republican Party
Religion: Roman Catholic

Faction: Establishment
Family Information
Spouse: Benjamin Jacobs Sr. (b. 1927, m. 1957)
Son: Benjamin Jacobs Jr. (b. 1958)
Son: Christopher Jacobs (b. 1960)
Daughter: Mary Jacobs (b. 1962)
Educational Information
B.A. in English, University of Michigan (1952 - 1956)
J.D., University of Michigan School of Law (1967-1970)
Occupational History
English Teacher, Traverse City High School, Traverse City, MI (1956-1967)
Attorney (Private Practice), Traverse City, MI (1970-1989)
Member, School Board, Traverse City School District, Traverse City, MI (1974-1978)
Chair, School Board, Traverse City School District, Traverse City, MI (1978-1980)
Mayor, Traverse City, MI (1980-1985)
U.S. Representative, Michigan’s 9th Congressional District (1985-Present)
Elizabeth “Liz” Jacobs was born in 1934 as the daughter of a commercial fisherman and a schoolteacher. She was the youngest of three children and had two older brothers. Her parents raised the family as Roman Catholics, giving Jacobs a religion and set of values that she holds to this day. As they grew up, Jacobs and her brothers often joined their father on his boat to catch fish to sell or for the family to eat. 


Jacobs was inspired by her mother, a teacher at St. Mary School, a Catholic school near the family’s home, and initially planned to follow in her footsteps. After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1956, Jacobs returned to northern Michigan where she became an English teacher for the Traverse City school district. Her school had many students from nearby Native American communities, and Jacobs’ time at the school opened her eyes to the discrimination and lack of opportunity faced by many Native Americans in the state. During her time as a teacher she married Benjamin Jacobs, who she met growing up in Leland and who worked as a fisherman. 


After a few years of teaching she was inspired by some colleagues and friends in the Native American community to get her J.D. After getting her degree she returned to Traverse City where she established a private practice focused on affordable representation for Native Americans and other underprivileged groups in the area. Many of her cases involved disputes with the federal government, which she grew to see as bureaucratic and overbearing.


Jacobs’ background in education gave her a strong interest in ensuring the best for her children as they went through Traverse City’s public schools. In 1974 she ran for and was elected to the local school board. She served on the board as each of her children went through school, including two years as the chair of the board. During this time she increasingly felt that the federal government was placing too many restrictions on local schools, strengthening her belief that small, localized governments know better than the federal government. 

As Jacobs’ reputation in the community grew, friends recognizing her public service record began to suggest that she run for more serious positions. She ended her service on the school board by running for mayor of Traverse City, a position that she held for 4 years before these same politically-active friends recruited her to run to replace Guy Vander Jagt, who had announced his retirement, as the region’s representative in Congress. 


Throughout her time in public office, Jacobs has been led by her Roman Catholic values and her belief that local and state governments can be far more effective than the federal government. She believes that many of the federal government’s programs, even though they might aim to do good work, infringe on the right of state and local governments to decide what is best for their own people and tend to be less efficient than local programs. Because of her background as an educator, she also strongly believes that matters of educational policy should be left up to the states and that the federal government should, at most, give block grants to the states to fund educational programs.

Edited by Matt
Added faction

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