12-26-2019 Letters and Commentary

There needs to be change & it starts locally

Dear Karl,

As the 2019 year is coming to an end, I like many Americans, am thinking about New Year’s Resolutions and looking back sadly at the past year’s national political upheaval. No matter ones political leanings, one must think that there needs to be change. In my humble opinion change starts on the local level.

It is unfortunate that many only feel their vote counts during the federal elections, and so don’t take much interest in local politics. Many people feel excluded from the system. Often they don’t feel they get a fair chance to become part of the “system” in order to participate and contribute. Often the “system” seems predisposed to allow only certain people in. An example happened a while back when Coloma Township choose my successor as Trustee. A small committee made a recommendation to the board from the several applicants who were never given a chance to present themselves to the whole Board for consideration. In all my 30 years of political experience in Coloma Township, I never saw such a closed method employed. It was disrespectful to all the applicants.

The coming year is an election year for most local political offices. In every township every office is “up for grabs”. In most all cases, the November general election is really decided at the partisan primary election in August. Our area is heavy to Republican so the primary election narrows the candidate field down to one per office who will then usually be unchallenged in the November election on that party’s ballot.

I wish more “newbies” would become part of the political process on a local level. I started when I was 37, and have tried to be involved for the past 30 years, because I believed I had something to offer and contribute. I suspect many people think I am one of the old coots that has had too much input and control over the years. In many ways I agree. Most boards that I know of have a majority of people well over 50 or 60 years old. Old often means experience. It can also mean lack of new ideas and long on old ways of thought. Old often means having been in office too long. Long office holders start to think that they have “power” and “control” in their “kingdom”. In my opinion, there should be regular electoral turnover on local boards to maintain good government. If not, maybe there should be term limits to keep old people from mummifying in political position!

NO political office holder should consider that they have “power”. What they have is statutory RESPONSIBILITY. The responsibility is to perform the duties of their office according to the law and to fulfill their oath of office to the people of their community. When someone starts to think that they have power, then they have been in office too long. No potential candidate should thus think that once elected they have power– they really only have responsibility!

Important dates are coming up. Early May is the filing deadline for petitions for township offices for the August Primary. Remember, the primary is really where the November election is decided on most local levels. So, in the next few weeks I would hope that people start seriously thinking about running for local offices. Look inward and realize that you do have something to offer. I encourage younger people in their 30s and 40s to get involved now! Many offices do not have onerous time responsibilities and duties. Your investment of time won’t be that great, but the return on investment in helping to keep good local government is immense. Don’t just think about it, act on it. New blood is needed.

On a personal basis, many might have wondered why I “retired” so unexpectedly from “politics”. The reasons are greater than the Editor would likely let me have space for, but let me say that the turning point was when I got disgusted when I felt integrity seemed to have lost out to politics. I was so angry seeing a young lady’s dreams become political and bureaucratic fodder that I had to leave. I was so angry my wife thought I might have a stroke the day I resigned. Some may think I should have stayed on and fought, and in hindsight I think they are right.

Many have asked whether or not I will run for office again. Honestly, I’m still on the fence and will need a lot of encouragement. This old timer would be happy to see younger people with more energy, fresher ideas, and fire in the belly come along and take over. All I really have to offer are institutional experience, my promise of integrity, and my promise that I would work apolitically and in strict accord with the laws for the benefit of the township. At my age, I’m afraid my filter has become dislodged. Many people might not appreciate my candor, directness, and commitment to transparency in government if I do run. But, I’d sure be glad to help some newbies work to be elected regardless of my future.


Matt Moser

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