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Staying informed

Political awareness committee takes on key issues

Created date

September 24th, 2014
candidates sitting on stage

People living at Fox Run are among the most politically active residents in all of Oakland County. And, as the saying goes, they put their money where there mouths are: the Fox Run voting precinct, which has 919 registered voters, holds the record for the highest voter turnout in Oakland County. In the November 2012 election, an impressive 87% of voters cast ballots at the six voting booths that are brought into the community on election days. The next closest precinct had a voter turnout of just 24%, according to resident Geri Angel, who is the chairperson of Fox Run’s resident-run political awareness committee.

The committee that Geri heads up is an important force behind the high level of political engagement at Fox Run. The nonpartisan committee was formed in 2012. The group’s goal is to educate and inform residents about candidates and issues that will appear on upcoming election ballots. 

One of the political awareness committee’s primary activities is hosting forums with candidates for elected office. The group is nonpartisan, so Democratic, Republican, and Independent candidates are all welcome to speak at forums. Geri says candidates get time to talk about whatever topics they wish, and then residents have the opportunity to ask questions. 

“We get really intelligent questions.” Geri says. “At the last forum, people asked about women’s rights, immigration, and other issues.”

A popular spot on the campaign trail

In preparation for the November elections, the political awareness committee has been hard at work helping their neighbors stay informed about the candidates and important issues in the elections. In July, the committee hosted a forum with candidates in Michigan’s 11th district congressional race. They also invited an official from Novi to discuss a proposed amendment to the city’s charter, as well as a state official who talked about a potential change to small business taxes in Michigan.

“The discussion at the July forum was extremely lively,” Geri says. “I had a lot of fun with it.”

Over the summer, the committee also was organizing a forum with several candidates running for the Michigan State Senate. In September, the group was hoping to host Terri Lynn Land and Gary Peters, Michigan’s Republican and Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate, respectively. And, for their October forum, Geri says she has been working to secure visits from incumbent Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and his opponent, Mark Shauer. Governor Synder has visited Fox Run twice in the past, and Geri says she is hopeful he will return because most politicians are eager to get face time with the politically active voters who live at the Novi community.

“I’ve been using [Fox Run’s high voter turnout] as leverage,” Geri says. “I say, ‘Here are 919 reasons you have to come back to visit us.’”

Geri says the candidate forums are usually very well attended. Candidates at the July forum presented to a packed house of 250 people. People who aren’t able to attend forums can still get up to speed on the issues. Geri says candidates’ prepared remarks and their question-and-answer sessions with residents are recorded and aired on Fox Run’s in-house television station.

In between election cycles, the political awareness committee organizes events around political issues that are important to older adults. Last year, the group hosted a discussion about federal health care reform. Now that the Affordable Care Act implementation is under way, Geri says the committee is considering organizing another event to discuss changes to the health care system. 

Term limits

At any given time, nine people serve on Fox Run’s political awareness committee. Geri says an application and interview process is required to secure one of the coveted spots on the committee. Each member serves a three-year term to ensure the group always has new people with fresh ideas. For her part, Geri decided to apply to join the committee about a year ago. She says her late husband was the more political one in their household, and Geri never took a great interest in politics. But, when she moved to Fox Run, she decided to embrace the chance to get out of her comfort zone and try new things.

“I did not have a lot of experience in politics,” she says. “But when I came to Fox Run, I was looking out for any opportunity that would be new and exciting—and I’m loving it.”