Dorrie Wisniske from Dearborn displays a poignant poster at the protest against Gov. Snyder outside Michigan Stadium, Saturday, April 30.
Perhaps it was inevitable that a candidate billed as a “nerd” would not be universally popular once elected. This was evident when Gov. Rick Snyder spoke to graduating University of Michigan seniors at Michigan Stadium on Saturday, April 30.
Well before the 10 a.m. commencement began, a coalition of about 1,000 Michigan teachers, nurses and union organizers upset with Snyder’s policies met outside Ann Arbor Pioneer High to hear rallying speeches. Shortly after 10 a.m., the group crossed Main Street and began marching up and down Main and Stadium outside the Big House.
Demonstrators carried a variety of placards, many of which parodied Snyder’s “One Tough Nerd” nom de plume. The group also shouted protest chants, and their volume picked up when they believed the governor was delivering his address inside.
Unpopular policies cited by the dissenters included cuts in funding for education, a controversial “emergency financial manager” program, and alleged inequities in sharing the state’s financial burdens.
Volunteer rally monitors made sure that the demonstration remained orderly and that everyone stayed safe.
ROBERT CONRADI THE WASHTENAW VOICE
Protesters gather outside the gates of Michigan Stadium to hold thier signs and chant as the governor is inside addressing the commencement crowd.
When it comes to legal council, going it alone in a court of law can be disastrous.
But in the case of Michigan Citizens United, a small group of political activists, confidence and sound language paid off in spades.
Aiming to gain the legal permission needed to begin a recall petition of Gov. Rick Snyder, the group met with the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners and a legal representative for the governor, on April 29. It’s mission: to clarify the language of the petition and to decide if the statements made in it were deemed understandable to the general public.
“This is just a clarity hearing,” said probate judge Donald Shelton, one of the presiding members of the board. “We are not here to debate whether the statements made within are factual or false. We are here to discuss whether the language of the petition is of sufficient clarity so that it is understandable to the recalled officer and the general public.”
In order to obtain the legal right to petition for the recall of a government official, said Shelton, all petitioners must go through this type of clarity hearing.
Huddled to the left side of the board’s room, located in the Washtenaw County administration building on South Main Street, the group consisting of Tim Kramer, Marion Townsend and a handful of other non-vocal members were offered an open forum to defend the presentation of their petition against John Pirich, who represented Snyder as a legal council.
“We would like the language to speak for itself, your honor,” said Townsend, 49 from Dearborn.
Although the members of the MCU were given the go-ahead to begin acquiring signatures with a 3-2 vote from the board, the core members of MCU acknowledged very little preparation and an almost non-existent grasp of probate law.
And in the end, it was Snyder’s representation that failed to grasp the nature of the meeting. In an attempt to defend his client, Pirich’s statement of opposition solely relied on pointing out the falsity of the claims.
“In looking at the recall petition, it states that Richard D. Snyder has signed into law various pieces of legislation including those raising taxes for retirees and low income families,” said Pirich, who spent the majority of his statement dissecting the petition to expose its flaws. “This is just not true. There have been some discussions about it, but there has been no action taken with legislation on behalf of Gov. Snyder.”
Yet this was not the point of this hearing.
“We would like to make a motion that the statement made by Pirich be disregarded,” said Townsend, in a rebuttal to Pirich. “From what I understand of the law, if the petition said that we want to recall Snyder because he parts his hair on the left, we would have the legal right to petition it.
“This isn’t a case of whether or not that is true, it’s whether the general public can understand the bill.”
And the board agreed.
Now that the petition has been deemed clear, Townsend said that the petitioners are already organized and that the public should soon see a petition on the streets.
Andre J. Jackson/Detroit Free Press/MCT courtesy photo
Sue Snyder and her husband Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder wave to the crowd before his inauguration on the steps of the State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan.
Gov. Rick Snyder is the Robin Hood of Nerds.
Hate me for saying it. It’s true.
He takes your college tuition and raises it, sometimes taking away the funding for it and gives it back to at-risk schools.
He takes away the collective bargaining rights of union officials and their cohorts and gives workers who are more qualified an opportunity to get the promotions they deserve.
And you people act like you didn’t see this coming, voting in a man whose go-to slogan was a reference to a movie about a geek intifada?
Snyder isn’t reorganizing or re-acquisitioning Michigan; instead, he has achieved what many dorks can only dream about — “one chance” for absolute revenge.
Snyder’s blatant attack on university life in Michigan isn’t aimed at poor smart-people; it’s aimed at rich-dad fraternity brothers, who most likely have spent the entirety of their grant money on Milwaukee’s Best Beer, Christmas lights and condoms.
It’s aimed at all the pretty guys and girls who flirt their asses off with some greasy-haired sot for free, A+ homework and test scores. Did Jimmy ever get any love from cheerleader Mary Sue for all his hard work?
Probably not, and most likely neither did Snyder.
After years of ridicule and locker-stuffings, eventually one of them had to snap. And instead of resorting to school shootings or bombings, Snyder chose a different route: state politics.
Now Snyder can take anything from anyone he wants to.
No more homecoming games, keggers and fraternity/sorority student councils, because students at your choice of higher education may not have enough money to support such habits.
What happened to all of those meatheads who dropped out and took jobs as manual laborers in a union-backed workforce? Well, they’ve been replaced with robots created by young wimps in pocket protectors with actual degrees in mechanical engineering.
And this is only the beginning.
Because of a few muscle-fed idiots, hardworking families and college kids now have to suffer the state-wide swirlie that is Snyder’s new budget.
So don’t blame Rick. Blame the bullies and gym coaches who made this all possible.
There is an old Klingon proverb that states “revenge is a dish that is best served cold.” And everyone knows that it’s very cold in Michigan.
Students at the University of Michigan Diag protest the choice of Gov. Rick Snyder as 2011 commencement speaker.
Ah spring. Emerging life, warmth, sunshine, flowers —and campus protests.
About 100 students gathered on the University of Michigan Diag on March 16 to protest the selection of Gov. Rick Snyder as the university’s 2011 commencement speaker.
The Wednesday afternoon protest followed Sunday’s announcement that university President Mary Sue Coleman had chosen Snyder to deliver the keynote address. Principal protest organizer Zach Goldsmith found the selection absurd and labeled Snyder “Michigan’s number one enemy of public education.”
Protest speakers noted that Snyder’s state budget includes a 15 percent cut in state funding for institutions of higher learning and the elimination of tax credits for private donations to public universities.
The students shouted chants including: “Rick is wrong!”; “Reconsider Rick!”; “Funding for schools not fools!;” and “Hey, Hey, Ho Ho, Rick Snyder has got to go!”
ROBERT CONRADI THE WASHTENAW VOICE
Student protestors crowd into to the office of University president Mary Sue Coleman to express outrage over the choice of Governor Snyder as 2011 commencement speaker.
For about 30 minutes, leaders fired up the crowd on the Diag with a catalog of perceived outrages, and then the protesters began to march. They marched through the campus buildings to the Fleming Administration Building and up the stairs to the office of the president.
Coleman was not present, but the president’s assistant and other administration officials heard the protesters’ demands. Afterwards, the protestors dispersed.
A 22-year-old political science major from Ypsilanti, Goldsmith referred to himself as “simply a pissed-off senior.” He said the protest was not orchestrated by any particular campus organization. He plans to deliver a petition to authorities, which includes 4,100 signatures of students, st aff and alumni opposing the selection of Snyder.
Goldsmith is the vice president for education of the student-operated University of Michigan Inter-Cooperative Council.
Angry students gather at State Capitol to protest cuts in education funding
ANNA FUQUA-SMITH THE WASHTENAW VOICE
College students gathered in Lansing last Thursday to protest proposed 15 percent cuts in state spending for higher education in Gov. Snyder’s budget.
LANSING – Outraged by newly elected Gov. Rick Snyder’s plans to cut education funding even further, more than 250 people – most of them students – picketed the capitol building Thursday to protest the proposed measures.
Holding signs that said “Keep teachers, cut Rick” and, “Why does the nerd hate education?” the students – including busloads from Western Michigan University and Grand Valley State University— gathered downtown and marched a few blocks to the capitol building.
“We have to educate our way out of this crisis,” said State Rep. Joan Bauer, D-Lansing. “How can you be our future when we are saying to you, ‘You will be loaded with debt coming out of college?’”
Among the featured speakers were Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-Lansing, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and Cardi DeMonaco, the president of Student Association of Michigan (SAM).
With the state facing a budget shortfall of more than $1 billion for the fiscal year that begins in October, Snyder is proposing cutting funding for state colleges and universities by about $300 million, or 22 percent, according to the organization that represents the schools. Snyder’s plan calls for smaller cuts, about 15 percent, for schools that keep tuition increases below a certain level.
ANNA FUQUA-SMITH THE WASHTENAW VOICE
Students from universities across the state march with school flags and protest signs at a protest against cuts in state spending on higher education in Lansing, Thursday, March 24.
But the protesters weren’t buying that. Many pointed out that Michigan is one of four states that spend more on prisons than on higher education. And the number of graduates leaving Michigan has doubled since 2001, from 24 percent to 49 percent. However, Snyder has given universities a break for keeping tuition under a 7.1 percent increase, which is the average state tuition increase.
Eastern Michigan University student Phoebe Conybeare, 21, Ann Arbor, an international affairs student, thinks enrollment at universities would decline if the budget keeps getting cut year after year.
“If we didn’t have financial aid and we didn’t have assistance from the state, we wouldn’t even have half the enrollment we have,” Conybeare said.
EMU student Julie Sampson, 20, an elementary education major, grew up in Michigan, but because of the economy her family was forced to move to Missouri. However, Sampson wanted to go to school in Michigan and came back. She remains the lone member of her family to reside here.
“For me, this is about me being able to stay here and raise a family,” Sampson said.
Cardi DeMonaco, 22, a University of Michigan-Dearborn student from Eastpointe, believes that if the state continues to cut funding to higher education, people aren’t going to be able to afford an education as tuition rises.
“If it keeps going, people are going to try and find other things to do, which is not what this state needs,” he said.
(l-r) Audrey Dowell, a representative for The Michigan League for Human Services, Howard Bunsis, an Eastern Michigan University professor and chairman of the American Association of University Professors Collective Bargaining Congress, Dedrick Martin, Ypsilanti Public Schools
Just 11 days after Gov. Rick Snyder spoke at Washtenaw Community College, citizens were gathered again in the Morris Lawrence Building. This time, it was to hear State Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, explain Snyder’s budget.
From the sound of the crowd, it was clear that the governor wouldn’t have been welcome.
“Ypsilanti will be out of money by the end of 2014,” said Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber. One of the panelists at the Town Hall meeting in Towsley Auditorium on March 21, Schreiber was referring to Snyder’s proposed decrease in revenue-sharing dollars, which would hit Ypsilanti especially hard.
In fact, while most cities near Ypsilanti, including Ann Arbor, would lose between 12 and 20 percent of their revenue-sharing dollars, Ypsilanti would lose 44.3 percent, almost half of the money it receives from the state.
Schreiber went on to say that no matter what happens in the state budget, he plans on staying put to keep the city afloat.
“We’re not going to let an emergency financial manager do it, but it’s going to be hard,” he said.
Schreiber’s fellow panelists were the Ypsilanti Public Schools Superintendent Dedrick Martin, Eastern Michigan University professor and chairman of the American Association of University Professors Collective Bargaining Congress Howard Bunsis and Michigan League for Human Services Representative Audrey Dowell.
All, including Warren, were clear about what they thought needed to happen.
“We ask teachers to extend their education, so if you’re in charge, you should have a background in education or at least a semester in student teaching,” said Warren of the controversial emergency financial manager legislation that Snyder recently passed.
Warren cited several amendments she attempted to tack on to the bill, including adding a minimum education requirement for future emergency managers, but all were voted down.
Schreiber compared the emergency manager to an emergency dictator, and both Bunsis and Martin shared his concern.
“This was not as direct or loud as what Governor Walker did in Wisconsin, but the results are no less distressing,” said Bunsis.
QUINN DAVIS THE WASHTENAW VOICE
State Sen. Rebekah Warren addresses the issues she sees with Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget proposal.
Another suggestion Warren had was to lower funds for the corrections department. She stated that Michigan is one of just four states that have a higher budget for corrections than they do for higher education.
“If funding keeps going the way it is, we may not have an EMU,” said Bunsis. “The budget seems to suggest what we want are more prisoners and fewer college students.”
Snyder’s proposal would require a 15 percent decrease in funding for public universities, as well as cuts in the K-12 program. Community colleges, however, will continue to enjoy the same amount of funding that they did before.
That benefit may not last long.
“If the legislators or the governor simply agreed to leave the money for public education alone and not use that to fund community college, that would go a long way for us,” said Martin.
Martin also painted a picture for the audience of what future Ypsilanti schools would look like under Snyder’s plan. According to him, class size, which is already high, would increase, and programming would be cut in athletics, fine arts and after-school activities which are especially important for many Ypsilanti youth.
“I see a lot of kids who during the day, it would appear, for all intents and purposes, that they don’t want to be involved in the school system,” said Martin. “But by the end of the day, it’s hard to get these kids to leave the building because they don’t have a stable environment to go to, and they want to be somewhere where it’s safe.
“They want to be cared for.”
During the question-and-answer portion of the town hall, it was clear that the information presented left a sour taste in the audience’s mouth.
“I got a lot of questions about, ‘Can we recall the governor?’” said Warren, and the auditorium lit up with laughter — right before applause took its place.
On March 3, Marvel announced that “The Avengers,” starring Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson, has stopped all plans to film in Detroit. Instead, it will take advantage of the film tax credits — in Cleveland.
“I’m just so fed up with it that I don’t even want to look at it. That’s how depressed I am over the whole decision,” said Dan Kier, a digital film production instructor at Washtenaw Community College.
Kier isn’t merely complaining about having a little less Scarlett in Detroit. He’s talking about Gov. Rick Snyder’s recommended budget, which includes a plan to cap the Michigan tax credits at $25 million for the film industry. In 2010, the Michigan Film Office approved $304 million, but only paid out $95 million.
Snyder commented on the cut at WCC on March 10 during The Economic Outlook for Washtenaw County event. He said that the state only got back 28 cents for every dollar it gave the film industry.
“It’s not just a tax credit; It’s literally writing them checks during a very difficult economic time,” said Snyder.
Marvel stated that the decision to change “The Avengers” to Ohio was solely due to the proposed change.
Michigan’s tax incentives for the film industry are the most generous in the nation. Now, with movies, directors and film crews pulling out of the state, some fear that it will affect the WCC’s digital film production department.
“I suspect there will be at least an indirect impact,” said Patrick McLean, WCC’s Board of Trustees Treasurer. “I’m personally a heavy supporter of the film credits, but I know that the governor of Ohio was bragging (on March 8th) that a movie in Michigan is now going to Ohio.”
The film incentives may be in danger, but WCC — as a whole — passed through the proposed budget with flying colors.
Funding for public universities will be cut by 15 percent, and K-12 programs will have $300 less per student if the budget passes.
Community colleges, on the other hand, were left untouched.
“I think for community colleges to come out with the same amount of money that they had last year is a huge victory and shows that the governor recognizes our value,” said McLean.
But no one is celebrating yet. Michigan’s Senate still has to vote on the recommendation, and since community colleges came out virtually unscathed, pressure could be on legislators to look there for additional budget cuts.
Part of this pressure comes from the fact Snyder has proposed to shift $895 million-worth of funding usually directed toward K-12 programs and heist it into the budget for higher education.
“We’ve been moved into the same funding pool with (K-12). That’s where I worry that there could be some pressure to get some money for K-12,” said McLean.
WCC President Larry Whitworth appreciates the consistent funding as well. Of course, he wouldn’t mind if funding was increased either, but he said he understands that in Michigan’s current economic state, that would be a lot to ask.
“We’ve had essentially the same budget from the state for more than a decade,” said Whitworth. “The fact is we have a lot more students, and obviously expenses have gone up in the last 11, 12 years.
“In a lot of respects, it doesn’t solve our financial problems, but it’s certainly very, very welcome.”
Even so, both Whitworth and McLean said the cuts to other education areas could affect WCC students. Many students transfer to public universities, and with the cuts that those colleges face, it could mean that students will bear the brunt.
“The universities will more than likely have to raise tuition to compensate for that loss in revenue,” said Whitworth.
In an attempt to counteract this, Snyder proposed an incentive for those public universities facing cuts to keep tuition low.
The governor will reward universities that stay below the five-year annual system average by giving them part of the recommended $83 million he sets aside.
This means that the schools will get additional funding as long as they keep their tuition increases below 7.1 percent.
In order to do this, McLean warns that universities may cut programs.
“It’s important to note that those cuts are not one-year cuts. It’s probably not coming back once it’s gone,” he said.
Of course, all of these effects are speculative until the budget passes through the Senate. Until then, all WCC can do is plan around the proposal and hang tight. The film department, however, is hanging tighter than most.
“People have already canceled (their films) and the damage has already been done,” said Kier. “I hope it doesn’t affect enrollment at WCC. There are still jobs out there, but there just won’t be as many.”
Gov. Rick Snyder is hustled into the Morris Lawrence Building for his appearance at a Washtenaw Economic Club luncheon at noon on March 10.
Bolstered by a sunny prediction of Washtenaw County’s economic future, Gov. Rick Snyder spoke in Washtenaw Community College’s Morris Lawrence Building on Friday at The Economic Outlook for Washtenaw County luncheon.
Snyder commended the college and the county, lauding them as leaders of the state. But with more than 200 business people and community leaders in the room and his budget at the forefront of Michigan minds, Snyder also found himself doing a whole lot of ’splainin’.
Snyder defended his recommended budget, discussing everything from the film tax credit cuts to cutting funding for public universities, and he said that keeping young, educated people in the state will be a focal point. He brought up past budgets, asking the room if they thought that those were working for Michigan. Snyder hinted hard that they were not.
“I hope when you look at the budget, you’ll remember that,” he said.
The governor also called on Washtenaw County to guide the rest of the state back into the black. He praised WCC, saying it was doing a “fabulous job” — noting that the lack of parking, something everyone in the room experienced just before the event, was proof of its success.
Before the governor spoke, University of Michigan economist George Fulton gave his economic forecast for the county.
For the first time in a long time, the news was good.
In 2010, Washtenaw County created 4,087 new jobs, the first positive number since 2005. The year before showed a loss of 5,712 jobs, and in 2008, 3,883 jobs were lost.
Fulton predicted that the county’s economy will continue to grow.
“It wasn’t related to any unusual events, so it appears to be no fluke,” joked Fulton. Fulton also highlighted the fact that his predictions from last year, which were thought to be irresponsibly optimistic by some, were proven, for the most part, to be accurate.
Near the end of the event, Snyder reflected on the Michigan v. Michigan State basketball game. He wants people to bring the same fire and passion he sees at those games to the economy.
He was, however, careful not to step on any toes.
“I root for Michigan State, except when they play against Michigan,” he said. “Gotta cover my bases folks, I’m still in office.”
Managing News Editor Matt Durr contributed to this report.
Pam Byrnes, former Michigan state representative, gives a candid presentation on how the legistlature works.
With Gov. Rick Snyder making big budget cuts and federal stimulus money nearly gone, Michigan is again left to fight for its fiscal survival.
Yet the Women’s Exchange of Washtenaw (WXW), which hosts various networking events for local businesswomen, is striving to do what so many in government have promised before — help small business owners move forward.
Hosting Moving Michigan Forward last Thursday, the WXW, along with the combined talents of Craig Thiel, Pam Byrnes and Marisa Smith, aimed to help Michigan companies understand why Lansing may not understand their frustrations and how to navigate the rough terrain of state politics.
And even though getting in touch with lawmakers can be a tough task, operating within the system may not be as hard as most think, according to Smith, founder and president of Whole Brain Group.
“At times, getting in touch with the right people has this sort of mystique surrounding it,” she said. “But in reality, it’s actually quite easy to get appointments with representatives and groups that impact public policy.”
Smith’s advice: Get involved with public action groups and always ask for help.
Recalling her struggle to receive a HUBZone certification, which helps businesses access federal procurement opportunities, she said that such involvement helped her “land the plane,” politically speaking.
“I had joined a group called Women Impacting Public Policy shortly before and I had just mentioned my interest in getting one,” Smith said. “Suddenly I was connected with the right person to talk to.
“If you get involved with these types of organizations, your chances of success are much higher.”
ROBERT CONRADI THE WASHTENAW VOICE
Rebecca Lopez Kriss, a public policy student at University of Michigan, moderates the ‘Moving Michigan Forward’ conference on political advocacy.
Yet even though Smith’s safety-in-numbers style was a big plug for the WXW, Byrnes said that it isn’t the content of what you advocate, it’s how you advocate that gets an elected officials’ attention.
“A lot of lobbying is very wasteful,” said Byrnes, a former state representative from Washtenaw County.
“People will often bring big brochures and gizmos, when really the most effective way to present your information is with a short summary page.”
Lobbying and advocacy is like marketing, Byrnes explained, and said that “if you do your homework and know your audience, the more likely you are able to make your cause seem more important.”
And it seems that even the best causes don’t ever see the light of day, according to Byrnes.
“This is where the rubber meets the road it is policy versus politics,” she said. “What needs to get done isn’t always what does get done.”
ROBERT CONRADI THE WASHTENAW VOICE
Panelists Craig Thiel, Pam Byrnes and Marisa Smith discuss how businesses can affect public policy at the ‘Moving Michinan Forward’ meeting.
Although Byrnes did touch on Snyder’s new budget plan, Thiel, director of state affairs for the Citizen’s Research Council of Michigan, presented a magnified view of the overhaul, which had come out just hours before the presentation.
Discussing Snyder’s plan in detail, Thiel explained that the largest blow to the state budget was aimed at K-12 and higher education.
However, the CRC’s head researcher said that it is important to understand that in any modern tax structure, there are always winners and losers.
Speaking about the process of advocacy, he said there is not a specific reason why people don’t come into contact with lawmakers, he explained, but that the majority of the problem has to do with “individuals not knowing how to use complex data regarding the way the government works spends money.”
“It can be an intimidating process, but if people know where to go and what to look for, it can be much easier than people think,” he said. “But the truth is that the size of the state’s money problem is huge and the solution is going to be very difficult.
“Michigan business owners are basically on their own when it comes to solving their problems.”
Rick Snyder and his family greet his adoring supporters at the Republican victory celebration at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit.
WCC Board of Trustees: What now?
Now that Washtenaw Community College Board of Trustees Treasurer David Rutledge has been elected as Michigan’s 54th District Representative, the trustees will be down a spot.
The trustees may appoint someone to fill Rutledge’s position. Starting Jan. 1, the same day that Rutledge will report for duty as representative, the board will have 30 days to decide on an appointee.
The appointee would stay in that position until the next round of elections in 2012.
“It’s up to the board if they want to use that process,” said Mary Faulkner, executive assistant to the Board of Trustees. “They may decide to require applications for the position.”
There is no word yet on whom the board may appoint.
DETROIT—The time is 7:45 p.m. on a quiet November Tuesday, and Detroit is a sleeping giant. On the intersection of Fort Street and Cass Avenue, the steam that seeps from its sewers is the only thing that makes a sound.
Yet two blocks over, down Washington Boulevard, the Westin Book Cadillac hotel is awake with excitement.
Members of the Michigan Republican Party have gathered here from throughout Michigan to take part in what the GOP considers “a historic event for the state,” a victory for Governor-elect Rick Snyder.
“We have come a long way,” Snyder told the jubilant crowd. “Now we are at a milestone. The citizens of the state of Michigan have spoken. It is time to reinvent Michigan.
“It is time for a new era. It is time for the era of innovation. We’ve had the natural resources era, we’ve had the industrial era of the 1900s. But beneath both of those… there was a spirit in Michiganders, a spirit of fire and passion in each one of us that brought us together.
“What was that spirit? It was the spirit of innovation, of entrepreneurship, and it is time to get the spirit back. We have a state that is suffering. We have a state with a broken economy and a broken government. But I’m not here tonight to talk about the problems or to place blame. I’m here to talk about the solutions.”
On this night, Nov. 2, 2010, Snyder — the self-described “tough nerd” — and running mate, Brian Calley, were hired by the voters of Michigan to find solutions for those problems.
By 8:30 p.m., the celebration at the Westin Book Cadillac was bustling with anticipation. Republicans, and even some Democrats and independent voters, filled the second floor ballroom to socialize, dance, sing, and, most importantly, show their support for Snyder.
“[Snyder] is the only person who can pull us through, without pulling us apart,” said Bill Wood, a local business consultant.
House band Rumpelstiltskin played second stage during breaks between guest speakers, performing various Motown and classic dance hits.
The main stage was decorated with Snyder’s campaign colors: navy blue, pine green and white. Between the Michigan and American flags, a banner said: “One Chance for Michigan.”
These words were the central theme for the evening for many of Snyder’s supporters.
GRAPHIC BY KATE BIZER
Bradford Smith, a 21-year-old student at the University of Michigan, said he is pro-Snyder because of his business model, one he hopes will help the people of Michigan, including his parents.
“My parents are small-business owners. My father is a dentist and has his own practice,” said Smith. “I want to see people like my father do well here in Michigan. President Barack Obama’s and Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s healthcare plan mandates taxes on my father’s employees’ healthcare payments. He’s had to drop a few of them.”
By 9:30 p.m., Snyder was announced the winner, defeating Democrat opponent Virg Bernero, the mayor of Lansing. TV pundits were calling the victory a landslide.
The projector screens that once displayed election updates switched to clips from the film “Revenge of the Nerds.”
At 11:30 p.m., Snyder and his family took the stage, and he recounted the struggle he initially faced when proposing his bid for office.
“People came up to me and said, ‘Did you know you’re at two percent, and if you apply the margin of error, you can be a negative number?’ And I thanked them for that kind comment,” Snyder said with a smile.
Snyder thanked Bernero for a hard-fought race, and said that he had received a gracious phone call from the mayor, congratulating him and conceding victory.
After giving many thanks to supporters, family and staff, Snyder’s tone became serious.
“Our young people are leaving this state at an alarming rate. We have got to create an environment where they can have a family and a career,” he said. “Let’s keep them here and help them succeed.”
Anna Whittow agreed. The 19-year-old UM student from Seattle said that was why she voted for Snyder.
“I love it here. I want to stay here,” she said. “I can’t do that if I don’t have a job or money to go to school.”
For John Dalton, 20, chairman of the Schoolcraft College Student Republicans, the situation is the same. Dalton, a political science major, relies on financial aid to pay his way through school.
“It all comes down to welfare reform. Too many people are milking the system,” Dalton said. “If we offer more jobs to these people who are dependent on welfare, there will be more money to go around for scholarships and aide.
“It’s about getting people back on their feet.”
Dalton, like so many others in attendance, was optimistic about the future.
“This is the beginning of the GOP comeback. This is the beginning of the comeback for Michigan,” he said.