Saginaw City Council in Crisis of Apathy as Population Shrinks

    icon Oct 18, 2018
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"As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: You liberate a city by destroying it. Words are used to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests." Gore Vidal, Imperial America, 2004

"Somebody needs to turn the lights back on," says Craig Schust, a civil libertarian and self-described independent fiscal conservative, who is running as a write-in-candidate for Saginaw City Council in the November 6th general election.

Craig Schust - a retired business person -  believes that Saginaw’s government has strangled business and made the City of Saginaw a mere shadow of its former self.  "Over-regulation prevents new businesses from opening, and old businesses from flourishing", says Schust, "and that is why the city population is disappearing". 

Because of the upcoming census Saginaw is poised to lose its status as a city with a population of over 50,000 people, and along with it the local control over block grants that comes with that status.

Saginaw’s government seems so hopeless that this year two city councilmen, including the mayor,  decided not to  run for re-election to the Saginaw City Council on November 6.  A third councilman - Demond Tibbs - resigned his seat on city council on August 24, and because of the curious timing of his resignation city council was able to select his replacement, a community organizer and former director of the Ezekiel Project and the outreach director for the controversial STARS public bus system,  to serve without election for the entire balance of Tibbs’ term, until 2020. Tibbs, who moved out of the city, was  himself appointed, not elected, to the City Council in 2016.

Worse still, there are not even enough candidates to fill the 4-city council seats that are open on the November 6 ballot. Two incumbents filed for reelection, as did 3 other candidates. Two of the 5 would-be candidates were disqualified by the government and kept off the ballot, so the balance of candidates will win by default.

City council has a storied history of appointing councilmen after conveniently timed resignations, which is one way for the council to prevent challengers from outside the political establishment from taking city office. By design, most council persons in Saginaw are first appointed by council, and then don't face an election after they have served in office long enough to get the unbeatable advantage that incumbents usually enjoy in elections.

"Democracy only works when citizens get engaged in self-government, and stay engaged," says Schust. "When voters write in my name in the empty slot for city council they are helping the democratic system correct itself."

As a citizen, and not a politician, Schust aspires to serve the people, not the city political establishment. More power to Mr. Schust, who may be just the breath of fresh air City Council needs to declare Saginaw "open for business" , and attract private sector jobs.



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