Dexter Forum Looks at the General Election, School Names and Democratic Process

By Lonnie Huhman,

Just like the forums in ancient Greece and Rome, the Dexter Forum has become a vibrant place for community discussion.

It also gives the moderators an opportunity to mix in some wisdom with some humor.

Held on Nov. 17, the Dexter Forum was well attended and saw co-moderator John Hansen energizing the crowd, and he said it was crowded, by pointing out that it is only 719 days until the next general election.

The forum gave attendees and the moderators, Hansen and Karl Fink, an opportunity to look back at the Nov. 6 general election.

“It always feels good when attendance is high and folks hang around afterwards to talk one-on-one,” Hansen and Fink said after the forum held at the Dexter Wellness Center.

The next meeting will be at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1. The purpose of the forum is to create an opportunity for interested women and men to gather to discuss important issues facing our community. All are welcome on a drop-in basis. The group meets on the first and third Saturdays of the month.

In their notes on the meeting, Hansen said, “three victors from the recent election were present for a round of applause. Donna Lasinski was re-elected to the State House of Representatives, Jason Maciejewski will begin his first term on the County Commission and Mara Greatorex will be the rookie on the Dexter Board of Education.”

The first topic of discussion concerned the method by which Michigan State Supreme Court justices are nominated, elected and replaced.

“It is a little strange,” Hansen’s forum notes said. “Candidates must be nominated by a political party but then cannot list their party on the ballot. When running for re-election they get to have Justice of the Supreme Court over their name on the ballot.”

Fink pointed, “out that judges who are not considering running again are ‘encouraged’ to resign a little early so that the Governor can appoint a successor who can then run as an incumbent, providing, of course that the current governor is of the same party as the judge.”

“As usual we found that some other states have very different rules,” Hansen said.

Fresh from their victory on Proposal Two, Hansen said, “the ‘Voters Not Politicians’ folks were looking for suggestions of what to do next with their new found bi-partisan grass roots army.”

He said the forum consensus was, “first on the list was to ensure the delivery of the new fair and reasonable district lines. Other suggestions were offered about improving transparency and ranked voting.”

In looking at the recount of the election elsewhere in the U.S., Hansen said, “We take no joy in Florida’s ballot counting woes but we are pleased that Michigan does it well. Several folks in the room have worked as election inspectors and testified as to how well things were handled, even in the face of very high turnout.”

In answering the question, “do you think democracy is strong and well locally and statewide?”

Hansen and Fink said matter-of-factly, “Yes.”

In getting away from the election, the forum looked at the naming of the new Dexter elementary school. The school board will vote soon on the name of the new school, which is nearly completed and is expected to open in the New Year.

Hansen said in his notes, “The choice has been narrowed down to a couple of alternatives. We normally just ‘listen and learn’ and do not give advice as a group but we veered off course a little and held a secret vote. Only the two school board members, plus Al who was on the board in 1960, were allowed to keep their eyes open while we raised our hands for option one or option two. Usually I say you had to be there to know what happened, but in this case you don’t even know what happened if you were there.”

The first option is the entire complex, which will be the new school and Cornerstone, could be named the Dexter Early Education Campus or Dexter Early Elementary Complex, and the schools would be named Cornerstone and Bates.

The second option would have the entire complex called Harbor Elementary while the two schools would be Anchors and Beacons.
Hansen and Fink said they think the naming process, “looks open and fair.”

The school board is expected to name the school at Dec. 10 meeting.

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