The people have spoken. This past Tuesday, thousands of Michiganders took part in local elections and Governor Rick Snyder was reelected to a second term against Democrat Mark Schauer.
In his acceptance speech, Snyder praised the resiliency of the state, as well as its ability to bounce back from trying economic times. “It’s time to reinvent Michigan,” he announced to a cheering crowd that chanted, “Four more years!”
Snyder praised the economic recovery taking place in Michigan and noted that Michigan has risen to the top five in job creation nationally from the bottom of the barrel at the beginning of his time in office.
“We’ve created 300,000 private jobs, but it’s not time to stay complacent; it’s time to push forward,” he said. “We want young people to stay in Michigan.”
In the U.S. Senate race, Democrat Gary Peters took over retiring longtime senator Carl Levin’s seat, defeating his challenger Terri Lynn Land.
Locally, voters passed term limits for mayoral and city commissioner seats, which will effectively end Mayor George Heartwell’s 12-year run as mayor, during which time he has raised Grand Rapids to a nationally-renowned city.
Proponents argue the new measure will enable new ideas and people to enter city leadership and agenda discussion, while challengers see term limits as a threat to experienced individuals making a lasting impact due to fast turnover.
Despite the low turnout for midterm elections, a number of students voted at their local precincts or by absentee ballot.
First year student Jake Wolffis took time out of his day to vote for the first time.
“I was surprised at how easy a process it was,” said Wolffis. Voting for Snyder, he added “I like the improvements that Snyder has made, and I’d like to see that continue.”
“I went through a comparison of candidates and saw which values aligned most with my own and which candidate was the best to represent the people in the most Christ-like way,” said Nathan Stripp, a first year student and Kalamazoo native who voted for Schauer by absentee ballot.
Many students, however, did not vote on Tuesday and cited various reasons for not doing so.
“I’m from out of state, and it seemed complicated to register,” said sophomore Casey Jones.
Sociology professor Elisha Marr planned on volunteering her day to transport students to their local precincts, but there weren’t any students who took her up on her offer.
“I didn’t feel like I was informed enough to make a knowledgeable vote,” said sophomore and Grand Rapids local Brooke Bonnema. “To be honest, I don’t have the time to catch up on local election news with midterms just happening.”
In response to students who did not turn out to vote, Stripp said: “If you’re to get opinionated about how the United States should be run, then the way to put your voice in is to vote.”
Wolffis also enjoyed the opportunity to vote. “I think it’s our duty to vote,” he said, “and it was really cool to experience it because I hadn’t done it before.”