Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vote Like Your Life Depends On It

Watkins: Vote Aug. 3 as if your life depended on it — it does

Posted: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 11:00 am | Updated: 11:03 am, Wed Jul 14, 2010.
Two Democrats, Virg Bernero and Andy Dillion as well as five Republicans, Mike Bouchard, Mike Cox, Tom George, Peter Hoekstra, Rick Snyder are on the ballot. One of these seven will be our next governor. Your choice in the primary will narrow the field.
No, "none of the above," is not an option!
It is our responsibility as citizens to whittle down the political field to one Democrat and one Republican to square off in the Nov. 2 election. If you need more information about the election, visit the Secretary of State voter information center at (or see a listing of candidates websites below)
Don't allow other voters to make your choice for you. If you fail to participate and vote on Aug. 3 it will be no one's fault but your own if your candidate does not make it to the final selection. Remember, people around the world are literally dying for the chance to vote!
Why Your Vote Matters?
Perhaps at no time in Michigan history does the collective wisdom of the voters matter more. Who we choose will be the point person to lead our state forward.
The litany of problems are monumental. Michigan has been at the front of the line for our nation's ills for some time now. Issues awaiting the next governor's attention include: Creating jobs, establishing a 21st tax structure, fixing crumbling roads, addressing deteriorating state services, declining property values, unsustainable pension and health care costs for public employees, higher education now priced out of reach for the average family while our investment in our public schools decays. Clearly, there are no shortages of challenges facing our state.
Yet along with this laundry list of problems facing us, there are a corresponding and equal number of strengths upon which an innovative leader can build.
Consider these:
* Michigan is surrounded by 20 percent of the world's surface fresh water
* We have the highest concentration of high quality engineers anywhere in the world
* Our public and private universities and community colleges are excellent and capable of producing the talent needed
* There is a latent entrepreneurial, creative, and innovative vein running deep in Michigan, ready to be tapped
* Two -thirds of incoming legislators will be new and hopefully not saddled with the political anchors of the past
* There is no place in the country where residential, commercial, retail or industrial property is cheaper
* There is a growing understanding among the citizens that the world has changed and we need to not only adapt to change, but to lead it if we wish to prosper in the 21st century.
* Michigan has been down so long there is a desperate hunger for a leader to help us rise again
Vote Or Liberty is History
Democracy is not a spectator sport. If you wish to have an impact, you must engage and vote.
Don't skip the first inning by not voting in the Aug. 3 primary election, then complain when your choice for governor is eliminated and not around for you to consider on election day, Nov. 2.
If you treat the August 3rd Primary as a typical July 4 -- enjoying a hot dog, hamburger, a cold beer, watching the Tigers and not voting -- you will get what other voters have chosen for you! And it is unlikely you will consider it a "picnic" as we move forward.
In a few days you have the opportunity to help direct your and the state's fate. The choice is up to you.
Try these image on for size: Look around the coffee shop where you are reading this column, or around your office, at your mother-in-law, your brother- in- law or that obnoxious guy at the gym. Now think about it -- you not voting and instead having these people make your choice for governor. A pretty picture?
It's that simple -- the opportunity to effect your and our collective future is upon us -- don't blow it.
Vote Aug. 3.
Tom Watkins is a education and business consultant in the U.S. and China and served as Michigan's state superintendent of schools from 2001-2005. He can be reached at:

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