Updated: Aug 3, 2022
We “the People” have lost faith in politics, and I don’t blame us. The priorities shared by legislators and the average candidate ignore that most residents in our country, whether in the cities or rural areas, are still battling to get basic needs met. We don’t need to be represented by any one person who doesn’t know us and hasn’t spent time with us in the community, on the ground - as our neighbor and as our friend. We need each other. We know the ways we are impacted by reproductive rights; violence; racism; employment and the size of our paychecks; transportation; human services; civil rights; lending institutions; healthcare; education; aging; childcare and parenting; disabilities; relationships and mental health; immigration; lack of support for small businesses and nonprofits; policing; incarceration; and on and on… We know better than anyone how these issues affect our lives, where the gaps are and how the balls can get dropped. We can best come together in the decision making rooms at the Capitol, in Our House to offer recommendations toward fixing them. That is what Democracy is supposed to look like and that is why I am running for State Representative in the new 77th Michigan House District. We are all done with the promises made by politicians over the years who knew we were struggling to meet basic needs but have been more interested in working on projects that would get them elected the next time around. As I’ve been talking to residents of the new 77th District I’ve been hearing that they don’t want pie-in-the-sky policy priorities. I agree. I am a regular person. I straddle the line between low income and middle class and recently opened a nonprofit civil rights bookstore. I rent a small home in North Downtown Lansing. I depend on seizure medicine. I’m an LGBTQ+ person and have worked mostly in human rights. My career is in public service and I know from experience that the hardest workers often struggle the hardest. We are fighting to feed ourselves. Without a living wage we make sacrifices to get our everyday bills paid, if we can get them all paid every month. We also know that our own communities are doing hard work to prevent everyday gun violence and need to be supported in that work because research supports that working to address the root of violence is more effective than scrambling to fix wounds after the fact. Our residents are, right now, thinking about their inherent and most basic needs to get through the average day. After the overturning of Roe v. Wade this includes our right to control our bodies and our relationships. Justice Clarence Thomas would like us to reexamine the rights of all communities and relationships since our country’s founding. This is about the families we have built, rights long fought for, humanity we still work to see recognized. We need a community builder who is a collaborator, not a savior or voice in place of us. We need somebody to hold “down the seat” and not their tongue on the issues that matter. A representative must have a spine to fight with the community in the now, ensuring those most impacted by each issue are informing and building the solutions. That’s why in March of this year, after a lifetime in advocacy, human rights, and public policy, when I learned that our other candidates were still very much becoming acquainted with Lansing, I knew I wanted to step up to ensure our voice was truly represented. Our relationships with each other must be in Our House and we need to be unflappable in the face of special interests. I have worked in the legislature under two Democratic legislators - in the midst of the foreclosure crisis - to keep people in their homes. I have run a statewide civil rights organization helping to build movements, halting harmful bills and passing policy for human rights. I’ve worked in the community with several of the advocacy orgs and neighbors you know well, in partnership, because it is important and necessary to be a part of progress. It is essential we have somebody in that office that knows the process and the decision makers but can’t be swayed by special interests. That door needs to be open to all of us. Without a price tag. We are in this together. Every election matters. Voting for a political party isn’t enough. This Primary Election will choose the Democratic candidate in a strongly leaning Democratic district. We are the power of this moment and we can ensure democracy is done as intended. Community voices speaking together for ourselves.
I hope I have earned your vote on August 2nd.
Photo courtesy of Emily Dievendorf