(given at City Council by oc115 Editor & Publisher Crystal A. Proxmire, Oct. 28)
I am here because there is a tradition that I think needs to be continued and honored.
For as long as I have been back living in Ferndale and writing about city council meetings, before each election a dedicated community volunteer named Dennis Hoeppner would get up at the meeting before the election and urge people to get out to the polls and vote.
Dennis spoke in a very patriotic way, reminding people that living in a democracy is a privilege and that voting is a responsibility. He would admonish the low voter turn out numbers and remind us that in other countries people did not have this right. And even that people have died to protect the right to vote.
Dennis’s words speak to what those of us who come to, or watch, city council meetings already understand. Voting is important.
But in addition to carrying forward Dennis’s message, I’d like to add in my own, mostly because I know first hand how it feels to be cynical and apathetic.
My generation – those of us who grew up with music videos on MTV, shows like Jerry Springer and biased talking heads replacing real news – we were raised not to care. And the low voter turn out numbers show that.
I get it. The choice between Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and the inefficiency of national government is enough to turn people away from politics and elections.
But somehow we need to rise above this and teach people that there is more to politics than the frustrating national narrative, especially here at the local level.
Municipal elections have the lowest voter turnout, but they also have the greatest impact on the day to day lives of individuals.
Do you want your streets plowed and kept up? Do you want nice parks? Do you want lower costs? Do you want investment in economic development? Do you want crosswalks, bike lanes, public art, or giant American flags? Whatever it is that you see when you walk through your neighborhoods, or drive down your streets happens because of you chose to represent you.
This election matters, as do all local elections. There is plenty of information out there. And I hope that those of us who “get it” can do a better job of explaining to the cynics why this is important.
I urge you to get out and vote. But since you are already spending a Monday evening watching this meeting, you probably already will.
So I am asking you to do more. Share political information, and even online news stories, with your friends and neighbors. Bring your kids to council meetings or to the polls. Post a picture with your “I voted” sticker to Facebook – and tag me so I can share it. And above all else take the time to get involved year round and understand the way things get done in your community and why your vote, your voice matters.
Dennis left us in January and his wife Marty passed way just a couple of days ago. Marty’s visitation, for those who might want to know, is Wednesday and her funeral is Thrusday at Spaulding and Curtain.
Dennis and Marty showed not only why voting is important, but what good things can happen when people get involved in their community, not just at election time. They went out of their way to welcome me back to my hometown and helped me find my voice. I hope using it share Dennis’s repeated message will do some good. And I hope you will use your voice and vote on Nov. 5.
To view the City Council meeting go to http://ferndale-mi.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=417&meta_id=37839.
Click on the pictures below for more stories on Marty and Dennis: