My legs are sore from walking and knocking on doors. I've talked to a lot of township residents in the last few weeks and I'm once again impressed at the many paths that our residents take in their pursuit of happiness. That drive to live our lives with as much authenticity as we can possibly create, coupled with the capacity to not just tolerate, but to appreciate our neighbors and their unique paths is the key to the economic revival of our township, our region, our state, and our nation.
Sounds hyperbolic, I know. It’s been that sort of week. New York suffers under Sandy and suddenly climate change is back on the table and the federal government is competent and people appreciate it. Here in Leland Township, events have been iconic in a more positive way. Leland School’s boys soccer team won game after game in their post season until they had claimed the title of 2012 District and Regional Champions, or as it was explained to me “one of the four best teams in the state”. Their last game was on Halloween in Big Rapids, which left three team members who are also in Mr. Wodek’s civic class precious little time to complete the required six hours of volunteering on a political campaign.
That’s how I ended up with “bodyguards” on my last weekend of campaigning door to door. I like going door to door with students, especially on foot. One day we walked from my house down M-204 to M-22. The next day we walked east from my house into Lake Leelanau. While we walked, I talked about the the history of the road and the homes, the people who live here now and the ones who are gone. We met a mom who remembered when Austin’s dad was her oldest son’s soccer coach. We met a 92 year old man who missed keeping chickens in the village. We visited Bad Pony, one of our fledgling internet businesses and, next door, The Washington Building, where Doug Fierberg took time out to give us a tour of the national law firm that they run out of his Lake Leelanau office. We saw a pileated wood pecker, Provemont Pond, a hidden barn, boots planted with cactus. Carol Drow told us about her solar panels, "Been there since Jimmy Carter was president!" Simon Dyer turned off his leaf blower long enough to share his comparison between US elections and elections in his native Ireland.
Sometime halfway through the first day, one of the guys said, “Wow! Everybody here is connected!” Of course, that’s the point of my patter, the point of the walking tour, the point of going door to door, the point of civics class, the point of serving in local government. We are all connected, by blood, or by history, or by economics, by sharing the same roads and parks and fire department and lakeshores.
My challenge as supervisor will be to foster that sense of community, and to see where it leads. The loose ends can be woven in by encouraging our residents to shop locally, by making opportunities for young people to come back and establish their careers and families here, by making township government open and accessible to everyone, not just as a place to complain when things go wrong but as way to meet their neighbors and collaborate to solve problems and create whatever comes next.
I thank all who have helped me along so far, the folks who encouraged me and bankrolled me and advised me and opened their doors and took time to ask good questions and tell me about their lives. I especially enjoyed the high school students who accompanied me along the way. I hope they have absorbed the idea that governing is not just about winning arguments or elections.
I’m optimistic about the results of today’s voting. The results for local races will be available at Leelanau.cc after the polls close, absentee ballots are all fed into the machine, and the township clerk reports the totals to the county clerk’s office. Vote today, and thank our election workers when you do.