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Town Hall Meeting or Campaign Speech?

By Rachel LaMotte

Photo courtesy of Karen Johnson


On Monday August 12, Governor Rick Snyder (R) held a town hall meeting at the Finnish American Heritage Center on Finlandia’s campus.

The meeting was held for the public to ask Snyder questions about Michigan’s economy, education, Detroit, and other topics relevant to Michigan and our country.

As this was my first town hall meeting, I didn’t know what to expect. I was just hoping that one of the approximately 50 people who were there would ask him a question that sparked some interest from the community, but it turns out it was the opposite of that.

Snyder began by saying how he was surprised by the number of young people at the meeting, and then went on to explain how Michigan has become better since our “lowest point” in 2009. He also talked about problems that he had already fixed, or issues that were happening downstate, and the only thing mentioned about the future was that we should be out of debt by 2040.

While this was going on, there were pieces of paper being passed out for anyone who wanted to ask Snyder a question. These were then collected and handed to Sen. Tom Casperson (R), who was also present at the meeting.

When it came time for the questions to be asked, Casperson sifted through the questions until he found one that he thought was an important topic. He passed up a question about TRiO services that was written by a friend of mine, even though it should have been relevant on a University campus and Snyder had introduced his talk by claiming to prioritize education. So it seemed that your question wouldn’t be asked unless Casperson thought it was worthy enough.

While the questions addressed topics from underwater research and energy, to natural resources, Snyder didn’t address or give ideas to help with those topics. He answered with an example of something he has already done to make it “better,” or he would say that he likes that idea and would be happy to look into it.

On one occasion, he was asked about “Obamacare,” and his reply was that he didn’t like it because Michigan taxpayers would have to pay $1.5 billion more this year. He then went on to say he liked the idea because it helps with his “Healthy Michigan” vision, which results in us paying less. So in his answer he contradicted himself, which isn’t a good sign in politics. It didn’t really feel like this was a town hall meeting; it felt like we were listening to him make a campaign speech.

The town hall meeting didn’t really answer the community’s questions on the future of Michigan, but rather promoted what he has already done. It’s meetings like this that make me, a young student, not interested in attending another political event.

For more information on Governor Snyder’s “Healthy Michigan” vision, go to www.michigan.gov/snyder/0,4668,7-277-61409_61412—,00.html

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2 Responses to Town Hall Meeting or Campaign Speech?

  1. anonymous Reply

    September 3, 2013 at 5:35 am

    Don’t go passive. Try the other party first.

  2. Suzanne Van Dam Reply

    October 24, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    I’m so glad to hear that you are attending these hall meetings (or as you say, campaign speeches!), and covering them here in the Roar, but would agree with the comment above: don’t let this grandstanding discourage you from participating in the political process. Instead, let it fire you up to take more action. Politicians need to have hard questions put to them–and we need to be well enough informed on the issues to know whether they are answering truthfully.

    Keep up the good work–and the political pressure!

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