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September 03, 1997 - Image 59

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-03

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 3, 1997 - 3E

Politicians fight
for U interests
jn D.C., Lansing

By Jason Stoffer
Daily Staff Reporter
Four women - powerful, compe-
tent and highly successful.
Ann Arbor's representatives, by
bringing diverse backgrounds to the
table, seek to powerfully represent
University and student interests.
U.S. Rep. Lynn Rivers (D-Ann
ior) said that she was the last per-
son many expected to gain a seat in
"I was married at 18 and had two
kids by 21, but I knew what I wanted
and believed in myself," Rivers said.
"I returned to college and it took me
15 years to finish a seven-year pro-

bills that would have prohibited the
University from offering insurance
coverage for abortion or from granti-
ng benefits to same-sex partners,"
Schroer said.
State Sen. Alma Wheeler-Smith's
(D-Salem Twp.) interest in politics
began in her early childhood.
"I grew up in a very politically
active family, which was very
involved with civil rights in Ann
Arbor," Smith said. "My father was
the first African American professor
at the University and my parents'
activism proved to me that one per-
son can make a difference in a com-
One item at the top of Smith's

Rep. Lynn Rivers (D-Ann Arbor) sits in her Washington, D.C. office. Rivers was handily re-elected in November, 1996, defeating
Republican opponent Joe Fitzsimmons.

"But by 1992 1
m the
iversity of
Michigan and
a law degree
from Wayne
Rivers said
her experi-
ence gives her
unique influ-
ence when
student aid is

had a baccalaureate

agenda was to ensure

Students should
start thinking about
running for officeE."
- Rep. Mary Schroer
D-Ann Arbor


that University Smith said the real cause of
s t u d e n t s Lansing's hostility is that the legisla-
became eligi- ture perceives the University as quite
ble for the arrogant. However, the University
state's tuition does have cause for hope, she said.
tax credit. "With the appearance of
"I worked (University President Lee) Bollinger,
actively to there's a new view emerging," Smith
remove the said. "He's come to Lansing several
constraint times and the leg-
from eligibil- islature has <
ity because viewed favorably
t h e Bollinger's efforts
on increases to hold down
nsumer Price tuition and
h said. "It's a salaries.S
against parents "I look towards

.the line in Washington, D.C.
"When issues of education are on
the forefront I can speak with author-
ity;" Rivers said. "I am an individual
who relied almost exclusively on
grants and loans for higher educa-
tion. This carries a lot of weight."
State Rep. Mary Schroer (D-Ann
Arbor) said she first entered politics
for familial reasons.
"I have been involved in politics
* over 25 years, and becime
involved because I care about my
children and the state," Schroer said.
"I started at the local Parent Teacher
Organization and school board elec-
tfions, then I was an assistant to for-
mer State Senator Lana Pollock."
As a member of the
Appropriations Committee, Schroer
said she has been a strong advocate
for the University community.
I have fought actively against

University had tuiti
greater than the Co
Index," Wheeler-Smit
meaningless penalty a

and students because they can't
influence tuition increases."
State Rep. Liz Brater (D-Ann
Arbor) has been a fixture on the Ann
Arbor political scene since the mid-
1980s. She began volunteering for
the American Cancer Society and
other non-profit charities, and was
subsequently elected to the Ann
Arbor City Council, then as Ann
Arbor's mayor.
In Lansing, she combats anti-
University sentiment, coming from a
legislature filled with what she
called "Michigan State University
"Unfortunately, many legislators
in Lansing tend to vote with football
loyalties," Brater said.

a much improved .
between the
University and Brater
Lansing," Smith
Ann Arbor's representatives' advo-
cacy of the University does not end
in the capital buildings - each tries
to make outreach into the University
community one of their top priori-
Student access to the hallowed
halls of power in Washington and
Lansing is just a phone call or e-mail
Nationally, this close connection
to constituents is not common, said
Rivers. There is a strong correlation

between politicians' inaccessibility
and the nation's increasing political
apathy, especially among college-age
"The United States has one of the
lowest voter-participation rates in the
world," Rivers said. "This appears to
result from a growing sense that
individuals don't matter.
"The system is
corrupted in the
sense it is out of
touch with real
Rivers said she
hopes to be an
exception to this
"I make a prac-
tice of being very
accessible, giving Smith
students every
opportunity to meet me," Rivers said.
"I'm on campus often, do coffee
hours and visit lots of University
All of Ann Arbor's legislators
encouraged students to buck the per-
ceived trend of apathy and use their
college years to become involved in
Schroer emphasized that the
advent of term limits in Michigan
will give more political opportunities
to interested citizens.
"Students should start thinking

about running for office," Schroer
said. "I am worried (because of term
limits) about what could be an
increasing number of single-issue
candidates. I'd rather have idealistic
young people coming into office as a
public service."
Brater urges students to register to
vote and to join one of the large
number of student organizations on
campus. However, they do not need
to join groups affiliated with a polit-
ical party, she said.
"Join issue groups, whether they
concern environmental, gay, racial,
ethnic or other topics," Brater said.
Although she agrees political
activism is important, Smith strongly
advised first-year students to get
grounded academically before taking
on the political world.
"(New students) have lots of
adjustments, and need to make new
friends," Smith said. "They should
focus on that, then slowly start join-
ing political activities, carefully
weighing what time commitments
can be."
She said, most importantly, stu-
dents should keep a close eye on
local politics.
"Follow the news, buy the local
paper and read city council and state
legislature bills," Smith said.
"Students often don't realize how-
much these affect their lives."

council bid
By Megan Exley
Daily Staff Reporter
In the competitive world of politics,
it's never too early to start.
This is the case for LSA first-year
student Michael Enright, who last April
became the first candidate to announce
his intention of running for a spot on
the Ann Arbor City Council.
Enright intends to run for a seat in
the city's 4th Ward as a member of the
Libertarian Party.
Originally from Clinton Township in
Macomb County and a graduate of
L'Anse Creuse High School, Enright
said politics have always interested
"I've followed local politicians for
years,'he said. "I hope that I will now
be able to participate with them."
Enright said that he became involved
with the Libertarian Party last year. He
said he expects to win the party's nom-
ination in the August caucus.
James Hudler, vice chair of the
Washtenaw County Libertarian Party,
also said he expects Enright to gain the
"I think his chances are pretty good
at this point," Hudler said. "It's proba-
bly a long shot that he'll actually win
the seat, but I think he'll definitely
affect the election."
Enright said he has given much con-
sideration to running for city council.
The issue that he said cause him to
finalize his decision was the potential
introduction of a city-wide income tax.
"I think that an income tax would
hurt the city," Enright said.
Enright said having a student on city
council would be very beneficial to stu-
"The University is a big part of the
Ann Arbor community and the students
have many concerns,' he said. "I think
that it is important to have someone
who would be able to address these
problems to the city government direct-
ly. I think as a city council member, I
would be able to do that."
Ann Arbor's 4th Ward includes
South Quad and the University area in
the vicinity of Madison and Packard
Streets. Currently, the 4th Ward is rep-
resented by Republican Patrick Putnam
and Democrat Stephen Hartwell.
Hartwell, however, is not up for re-elec-
tion this year, leaving only one seat
open for contention.

City council,
,mayor strive'to
create a balance'


Always the Best

0a T A e

'U' lends unique
political flavor to
municipal politics
B Will Weissert
y News Editor
Ann Arbor Mayor Ingrid Sheldon
knows that being leader of a city that's
home to more than 38,000 students
makes her job more interesting than that
of most mayors.
"You have to create a balance,"
Sheldon said. "You know that some of
the most active, concerned and talented
people in the area come from the
iversity and have
npus concerns,
but you also know
that students do not
live in Ann Arbor
Sheldon works
Closely with the Ann
Arbor City Council,
which consists of 10
rhembers elected by
five wards. The
uncil's politics
have traditionally
leaned to the left. Despite Sheldon's
Republican presence, the council is cur-
rently comprised of seven Democratic
and three Republican members.
"Sometimes I feel like the Democratic
mnembers have their own agendas they
want to accomplish and are not open to
as many new ideas as they should be,"
.jieldon said. "But compromise is
a s one ofthe most important parts of
my job."
Though Ann Arbor's ward boundary
lines divide student voters, most students
are concentrated in Ann Arbor's first and
second wards.
"In a way the split of student voters is
good because all councilmembers are lis-

Hanna-Davies continued.
In recent years, council officials have
begun working with representatives from
the Michigan Student Assembly to
ensure that students are appointed to
council advisory committees, and to
improve communication channels
between the city and student government
remain open.
MSA President Mike Nagrant has
played an active role in recruiting and
appointing student representatives to
many different types of city council com-
mittees, which discuss everything from
parking issues to housing concerns.
"The council has kept an ear to the
ground and effectively made headway on
a lot of issues that are very important to
students;' Nagrant said. "The relation-
ship is not a perfect one, but it is improv-
Nagrant said both parking headaches
and a failed proposal for a one-percent
income-tax increase are the most impor-
tant local issues to the majority of stu-
"Of course you have to mention park-
ing, and the council is considering a
number of ways to fix some of the prob-
lems;'Nagrant said.
Nagrant criticized the income-tax pro-
posal as against the best interest of stu-
dents. He said the tax increase would
have hurt students who weren't even res-
idents of Ann Arbor.
Councilmember Jean Carlberg (D-3rd
Ward) said safety on campus is always a
key student concern.
"The first thing that comes to my mind
is safety and security" Carlberg said. "It
is important that both the city police
department and the campus police work
together as much as possible.'
Carl berg said the council is working to
make the jobs of both police forces easi-
er by beefing up police resources.
"We have worked, on increasing the
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