What principles do you stand for?
Above all, that question should inform your choices during the primary election on Tuesday, August 7th.
Beyond what party you registered for, beyond who you know (or how well known someone is), the central choice in every election is about your values. It's about your ideas for nurturing and stewarding the public trust -- it's about understanding that your vote is an investment into your community's future.
Almost three years ago now, Detroit's public trust was broken.
Broken by leadership that failed to live up to the vision they espoused. With careless deviance, reckless abuse of power and run amok corruption, this experience left in its wake a dark void gaping through Detroit's public square.
Amidst doubt and anxiety, budding leaders from across Detroit came together to hammer out a new vision. They put forth 12 principles for securing a brighter future for the city and, by extension, created a fresh framework for assessing prospective candidates for office once elected. The principles embodied things like regional cooperation, cultivating creativity and diversifying our economy. All laudable goals, but perhaps most notable among them was the urgent demand for government accountability. That was the legacy of the moment. It still rings true today.
Thus Declare Detroit was formed. The group's efforts catapulted onto the city landscape, securing thousands of signers within days and amassing over 15,000 online supporters ever since. Not bad for 12 principles. Indeed, the campaign has helped reveal how much we share in our common vision for Detroit.
Recently, steering team members of Declare Detroit came together to assess candidates positions related to the declaration. We made endorsements in key races and issues where our influence could matter most. We hosted fundraisers, promoted their campaigns online and even knocked door in local neighborhoods.
The candidates we support are quick to not only embrace the logic of the principles, but to articulate a clear vision and strategy forward for the city in these critical times.
For example, Adam Hollier, our candidate for Michigan's 4th district state representative race wrote about diversifying the economy this way, "Creating and building based on entrepreneurialism and micro-business will bring diverse industries to Michigan, breaking our dependence on the car industry. I am committed to promoting entrepreneurial education in schools. Laying the foundation for taking calculated business risks allows us as a state to make a tremendous difference in the local economy."
Another candidate, Scott Benson, our choice for the 1st district state representative race, wrote about the need for a regional transit system this way, "Regional transit is huge for our community. We are not a competitive region; see Washington D.C., NYC, and Chicago. We need one system that works for the entire region and not two that serve either the suburbs or the City and this system must allow people to get to work, school and regional destinations seamlessly."
Ultimately, Declare Detroit urges our community to coalesce around governmental policies and leadership that biases results over rhetoric. All candidates that took the time to reflect on Declare Detroit's principles were breathing life into the core values that will help ensure Detroit's best days are ahead.
After the primary, we'll be posting the full results of the candidates selected so voters will be able to hold their new representatives accountable, and also be able to find creative ways to engage the declaration principles with Michigan's civic leadership.
Will Declare Detroit's principles stand the test of time? In part, the Declaration principles have a permanent stake with the city, but they are more an action agenda than anything else. As actionable, policy centered declarations, the principles are a roadmap to a brighter, more just, and more prosperous future for all of Detroit.
So, whatever choice you make on August 7th, your friends at Declare Detroit ask you to consider how your vote will reflect your values for a more vibrant and dynamic city and region. We need leaders in Detroit and Lansing who are committed to this nonpartisan agenda and to seeing it through.
How will you invest your choice on August 7th?
Will you, like us, be voting your principles?
Steering Team Member, Declare Detroit