Our election day
Today is a monumental day in Michigan and across our country. It is Election Day.
Like so many others, I will cast my ballot, dragging two small future voters along with me. Granted, the weightiest thing in my city is the local council and a school millage. But my friend is running, so I hope my vote will put her into office.
In previous elections, I haven't cared much about Detroit. I have never been eligible to cast a vote in the city. I've never owned land in Detroit. I've never even rented an apartment there. So I never had a stake in its politics – or so it seemed.
As a former employee of a Detroit-based company, I knew who the candidates were and watched the election results – but always with a sense of derision.
That is because Detroit politics are full of characters, good and evil. The whole thing seemed like a hot mess. Two words: Kwame Kilpatrick. And let's not forget this is a city council where members verbally and nearly physically attack one another, claim they are being electrocuted through their seat or resign in disgrace only when they're caught by federal agents.
This year is different. This year, I feel I have an investment in the election's outcome, both personally and professionally.
The blog makes me care about Detroit more than I ever have. For some reason, writing about the city for Assignment Detroit has made me feel like its parent – so in love with this grubby place that I feel dizzy with emotion.
As such, I want the city to succeed. I want people on the inside – and the outside – to feel as passionate about the outcome as I now do. I want those within Detroit to vote. And I want those in the suburbs to really get involved with this city, this election and Detroit's future.
Here's why – and allow me to wander a bit here. Last week, Detroit dedicated the new William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor.
Formerly known as Tricentennial Park, this huge area was renamed for Bill Milliken, who was governor of Michigan from 1969 to 1983 – a living legend indeed. At the ceremony, Milliken talked about “a new Detroit.”
Here are some of his comments, taken directly from his speech:
“The simple truth is that if one cares about the future of Michigan, it is not enough to care just about the Great Lakes or our undisturbed areas. To care about the future of Michigan means we all must care about the future of Michigan cities, particularly Detroit.
“For far too long, the politics of division have played too large a role in Southeast Michigan and throughout the state. Division by race, division by economic status and division by geography have all been exploited – and continue to be exploited – by some for their own short-term political gain. But in pursuing their own narrow personal interests, they only hold Michigan back.
“To me, the measures of real leadership have never been associated with promoting our differences. To me, the measures of real leadership involve searching for common ground as we work to develop responsible public policy.”
It's time to care.