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We Just Got Elected! Now What?
By Matt Bach
They have a variety of backgrounds—a newspaper editor seeking a career change, an administrative assistant in the auto industry, a law student, a funeral director, and a pediatrician—just to name a few.
But they all have something in common. They are the new faces of local government in Michigan. There’s a famous line at the end of the movie, “The Candidate” starring Robert Redford. The film focuses on Redford’s character running for U.S. Senate and at the end (spoiler alert) he wins and Redford’s character asks his campaign advisers “What do we do now?”
That’s exactly how Jeremy Moss felt after being elected November 8 to the Southfield City Council at the young age of 25.
“It was kind of like the dog who chases the car and then what does he do when he catches the car,” said Moss, who works for the Michigan House of Representatives. “Even just being involved in city hall, at least I know the key players, I know a lot of personalities at city hall, I know the issues just from having lived in the city all my life. I don’t feel that much at a disadvantage, but it’s a different perspective that I’m being exposed to.”
It’s not unusual for candidates to spend so much focus and time on the campaign and running that they’re not really sure what to do or how to start once elected.
Fortunately, in Michigan, local government officials—newly elected and experienced leaders—aren’t in this alone. They have the Michigan Municipal League to help learn all the ins and outs to being elected officials. The League offers resources and training on everything from the parliamentary procedures to running a meeting to understanding budgetary issues. For the latest League training sessions go to mml.org.
Dave Fredrick, clerk for the city of Yale, was among a group of recently elected/appointed officials to attend a series of newly elected officials (NEO) training offered by the League throughout the state.
Fredrick is editor of the Huron County View newspaper and has more than 25 years experience in journalism. He’s been to countless government meetings as a journalist, but attended a NEO training in Marlette November 15 because he knew he still had much to learn about being an elected official. “I’m very open to learning new things,” Fredrick explained. “A city clerk’s role is obviously very different than the role of a journalist.”
Teri Nusz never imagined she’d get involved in local politics. But the mother of three and administrative assistant in the auto industry found herself attending more and more council meetings in Akron—a small village in the Thumb of about 400 people. At first she had concerns about a local property project then she started asking about more things. Finally she was asked by fellow residents to run and she did and she won.
Matt Bach is communications director for the League. You may reach him at 734-669-6317 or email@example.com.