our ypsi mayoral debate

OK, for those of you who are interested, here’s an update as to how far we’ve gotten toward setting up a grassroots mayoral debate here in Ypsi… First, thanks to the hard work of a neighbor of mine, we were able to get Eastern Michigan University to offer us the use of McKinney Union (which seats up to 425) for the purpose. They’ve agreed to hold two evenings for us – Thursday, July 20 and Thursday, July 27. (Our thought is that the event would run from 7:00 to 9:00 PM.) Now, it’s just a matter of getting the candidates onboard and choosing between the two dates.

I’ve sent emails to all three candidates, letting them know what we’re up to and asking for them to get back to me if one of those two dates doesn’t work for them. So far, two of the three have responded. Both local businessman Steve Pierce, and Ypsilanti Housing Commission President, Paul Schreiber, have told me that they wanted to participate, and could make either of the two dates. I’ve yet to hear back from City Council member Lois Richardson, but I’m confident that she’ll also see the benefit of participating in an event like the one we’re proposing. (If you know Lois, I’d appreciate it if you’d have her contact me. I’ve left a few messages, but haven’t heard back from her yet.)

One thing that’s come to my attention since I originally floated this idea is that there are already a handful of other, smaller debates – or informal discussions with the candidates – in the works. Given what I’ve recently heard about these other events, however, I’m confident that what we have in mind would be filling an unmet need. Not to disparage those planning other events, but our debate would, for instance, ask the difficult questions which really need to be asked (about their visions for the future of Ypsilanti, the prospect of receivership, the cost of the Water Street development, the proposed city income tax, our commitment to public transportation, our dedication to having a sustainable, walkable community, our relationships with the state, our neighboring municipalities and EMU, etc)… Judging from what I’ve been hearing, that’s not happening… Here’s a clip from a post by Brian on East Cross about the mayoral debate, which took place just a few days ago:

The first Ypsilanti mayoral debate of the season was pretty low-key. There were more softballs tossed tonight that at a beer league doubleheader.

I think that it’s great that we’ve got multiple entities out there providing venues for these three individuals to discuss their platforms, and I don’t want to suggest that their efforts aren’t appreciated. I think that our committee, however, can cast a wider net, deliver a younger, more diverse demographic, and work with the community to develop questions which better get at the issues that will effect all of our lives over the next several years. I don’t have much faith in myself when it comes to some other aspects of my life, but I know that I can work with the people that I know in the community (both online, and in the real world) to promote this event and get people in the seats. And, while I haven’t talked with any of our local radio stations yet, I’m also confident that I can get one of them onboard to cover it. And, if not, I’m sure that we can get a podcast of the event up within a few hours of the final question being asked.

So, that’s where we stand now. In the coming weeks, I’ll have more information. I don’t know if we’ll get an independent site launched, but we’ll at least have a mechanism to accept possible questions online and PDFs of flyers that you can print out and post around your neighborhoods. The committee behind this event and I want for this to be an incredibly positive grassroots effort that cuts across all segments of our community, and, given the feedback that we’ve been getting thus far, I have every reason to believe that we’ll succeed… Thanks to all of you who have pitched in so far.

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7 Comments

  1. egpenet
    Posted June 19, 2006 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Word is that Lois refused to debate … “I am not prepared like these gentlemen are” … and she sat down to listen.

    I consider questions on specific issues … income tax, for instance … irrelevant. I want to know what specific goals, steps, plans these candidates have for doubling the density of the city, tripling consumer spending on the arts, marketing and merchandising the history of Ypsilanti (architectural, arts/music/theater, cultural, educational, arsenal of democracy, etc.) … we have in this town what people want and have lost elsewhere in the county.

    Ypsilanti is NOT Williamsburg … but it ain’t Disneyland, either. (It is NOT phoney-yuppie Ann Arbor … and definitely not fake Northville.) Ypsilanti is the real item … warts and all … and I love it!

    Sleep in Riverside Park and seee if I care. (I do.)

  2. Ted Glass
    Posted June 19, 2006 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    If she refuses to debate and doesn’t respond to the emails of her constituents, my guess is that she’s not serious about running.

  3. egpenet
    Posted June 19, 2006 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    I’ve talked to Lois Richardson briefly in Riverside Park and would very much like to see her make an excellent showing to represent not only a constituency, but to help give the campaign a historical context … where we have been … and then her vision of where we need to be … versus the obvious wants/needs of the monied folks/landlords … versus the income tax/status quo plan of others … or versus the two steps forward/three steps back path we are following at the moment.

    Lois … For starters: What three things do you want to accomplish as mayor? What three growth goals can the city accomplish during your term? If not an income tax, then what for the city’s financing? Also, what three things can the citizens of Ypsi do to help? Is there more? (Paul … Steve … you, too.)

  4. leighton
    Posted June 19, 2006 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Not to get all Dewey, but (anecdotally) it seems like Pierce is unstoppable. Waaay too much $$ and time on his hands means the “slightly more qualified” would have an uphill battle.

    Real debates would be welcome. Hope I’m in town to witness a / the revival: Thursday, July 20 and Thursday, July 27.

    I don’t really know Pierce’s plans yet. His explanations might convince me to hold my nose and vote for a Republican (or is he just a RiNO?)

  5. egpenet
    Posted June 19, 2006 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a quote attributed to Steve from one of my unimpeachable sources … the conversation is reported to have begun with … “Steve, why are you going to the Democratic fundraiser? You’re not a Democrat.” Steve Pierce’s response is reported to have been: “I WAS (sic) a Republican in college. But I have voted Democrat since 1988.” My question is: voted Democratic on what level? National, State, County or Local? Also, what type of judiciary did he favor with his votes since 1988?

  6. mark
    Posted June 19, 2006 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    As much as I enjoy all the political banter about candidates, my hope is that we can, at least on this site, stay clear of picking favorites (and condemning the rest) until after the debate. I really am trying to stay impartial, and I’d like my site to do the same. Once the debate has passed that might change, but, for right now, I think it’s important that we all try to keep an open mind (or at least an illusion of one), regardless of how someone voted in college, etc. And, like Leighton said, there’s a chance that any of us could hear something in the debate that changes our mind.

  7. mark
    Posted June 26, 2006 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    Lois has confirmed. We now have all three candidates onboard.

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