Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Election Day - Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories

A Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s (Receive a weekly email whenever there is a new blog post. Just enter your email address in the designated spot below the blog and follow instructions to set up the weekly alert.)

Election Day

Today is Election Day, and every vote counts. I recall while building our current home, we had registered to vote in our new city and were told the polling place was in a local school, but were never sure which one. Late on election day that November, after work, my wife and I headed to the closest school only to discover it was the wrong location. We rushed to the right precinct only to find the polls had closed. One of the local measures on the ballot was approved by 1 vote, and both my wife and I had planned to vote no. So literally every vote counts - now go out and vote today!

Voting is a right and privilege that I learned first hand from my parents. Each election day, Mom & Dad would alternate trips to vote at the McLean Township Hall & Fire Station located on Elm Street in Ft. Loramie.

My parents would alternate so one could watch the kids while the other voted. As I got older, Dad would take me along and since the polling place was right next to Brucken’s Cafe, we’d go in for a bite to eat after voting so Dad could commiserate about the politicians running for election with the other voters in the cafe.

At the time, Dad and most other farmers in the area were Democrats, while the town-folk tended to be more Republican. Dad grew up during the Depression, so appreciated President Roosevelt’s New Deal policies that included public works projects to employ people who lost their jobs.

Nearby Lake Loramie was a major beneficiary of several WPA projects, which resulted in it being named an official State Park by 1949. Without those WPA projects, it’s likely the dam and spillway would have fallen into disrepair, meaning the lake would have disappeared and regressed back to its pre-canal original form as just another nondescript section of Loramie Creek.

Dad always made it a point to get to know the local politicians, as they were the elected officials who most influenced property taxes, which had serious financial implications for a landowning farmer like Dad. Most critical were the local elected officials for McLean Township where the farm was located, Ft. Loramie School Board and Shelby County Commissioner.

Invariably, Mom & Dad would invite the local elected official and their spouse to our house for an evening playing cards. Dad had a view that cultivating a personal relationship was important so he could stay on top of local issues while encouraging them to keep property taxes for farmers low. And for the most part, they all became life-long friends with my parents. In looking at the current office holders of those positions, namely Bill Rethman (Township Trustee), Tony Meyer (School Board) & Tony Bornhorst (County Commissioner), I found it interesting that all three are sons or grandsons of former office holders that Mom & Dad has befriended years ago. So I’m confident local government back home is in good hands.

In a past blog, I had written about the contentious 1960 Presidential election between Democrat John Kennedy and Republican Richard Nixon. Our entire family supported Kennedy, primarily because he was Catholic and a Democrat. But by the end of the ’60’s at the time of the Viet Nam war, Mom & Dad (and most of the rest of the family) had changed allegiances to the Republican party, especially when Ronald Reagan became President.

Well, the apple didn't fall far from the tree, as I also tend to dabble in politics, especially at the local level. It started after retiring from Ford when the Mayor asked me to join the Planning Commission in our home city of Orchard Lake, MI. The Planning Commission develops the long range Master Plan for the City and creates ordinances that support the Plan. My experience at Ford doing strategic and product planning helped immensely in this role.

Within a year, the Mayor also appointed me Fire Commissioner representing Orchard Lake on a Board of three adjacent cities who had a joint Fire/EMS department.

Then the next year, the Mayor asked me to run for an elected, non-partisan City Council position, which I won thanks in large part to my wife and I walking every street in the city of 2400 people knocking on doors. Debby would take one side of the street and I’d take the other. By election day, while shaking hands outside the polls, countless voters would comment they remembered my wife when she knocked on their door. That’s the primary reason I won! Being elected to and serving in public office was one of the most rewarding periods in my life, even though the pay was zero. I used to tell a persistent neighbor frustrated with the City’s direction that “you get what you pay for”!

While serving on City Council for six years, two as Mayor, we were able to drop the millage rate every year to keep property taxes in check while concurrently transforming the joint Fire & EMS department from volunteer first responders to a department staffed with 100% advance life support-trained firefighter/EMTs. Dad would have been pleased!

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