I spent last week on my first official author tour, travelling across northern Michigan talking with people about the Great Lakes--about our beaches, our dunes, cliffs, wildflowers, parks, and the quality of life alongside these bodies of water.
It was energizing to meet adults who were first introduced to water’s edge by a parent or grandparent—who are doing the same now with their children and grandchildren.
It was humbling to meet one of the leaders of the “Stand Up for the Great Lakes” initiative—paddleboarders who paddle to protect, educate, and raise money for the lakes. Their paddles include nonstop crossings of Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron. And while Rubin and I have sailed across Lake Michigan nineteen times and Lake Huron twice, to make that voyage standing on a board is incomprehensible. According to their website, the paddlers do it because they share a love of the water, because it’s the challenge of a lifetime, and it's a way to raise money to preserve the Great Lakes.
To a person, everyone I met shared my passion for this place we call home. And a desire to protect it.
But when I talked about voting on behalf of the water, a few foreheads wrinkled.
“It will be difficult this year,” I was told at a book signing event in Traverse City. “For the first time in recent history, all Michigan’s politicians are talking about water.”
That’s a good thing. Unfortunately, it took a string of crises like Flint and Rockford and Parchment and, potentially, over 25 communities state-wide with unacceptable levels of PFAS, to make our water a priority in this, “The Great Lakes State.”
How does one separate the political pomp from practice?
With the help of a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization called the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), I pulled up voting records for those representing the eastern shores of Lake Michigan—every port into which we have sailed. Most of these harbor communities depend on Lake Michigan for their drinking water, their economic viability, their quality of life. The LCV scorecards politicians based on voting records in committee and on the floor. In Michigan, they focus on legislation affecting safe, affordable drinking water; clean, pollution-free energy options; protection of parks and public lands; the promotion of fair elections and good government; and healthy Great Lakes.
The LCV scorecard is a starting point for analyzing the actions behind the words.
Please join me in voting on November 6th. And while there are many issues to consider, please vote with our Great Lakes in mind and heart. This is not a Republican or Democrat issue. It is not an issue for liberals or conservatives. Water is an issue of life and health.
2017 Scorecard for Those Representing the Eastern Shores of Lake Michigan
Benton Harbor/St. Joseph (21)
South Haven/Saugatuck (26)
Ludington/Manistee/Frankfort/South Manitou/Northport (35)
Traverse City/Charlevoix/Petoskey/Harbor Springs (37)
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder grades
Michigan scorecards may be found at https://michiganlcv.org/at-the-capitol/legislative-scorecard/
National scorecards may be found at http://scorecard.lcv.org/scorecard
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