Calvin community gets involved in local politics

File photo.
File photo.

Posters, commercials, speeches, debates, candidates, candidates, proposals, proposals, proposals.

Elections can be chaotic, but some members of Calvin’s community are diving into the chaos to raise awareness about certain candidates and issues in the election.

Jacob Vangeest, a third-year student, is volunteering for the Sierra Club, which is trying to gather support for Proposal 3. Proposal 3 wants Michigan’s energy to be 25 percent “green” by the year 2025. The proposal would make the energy plan to become part of the constitution.

“Michigan is already on track to 10 percent by 2015, so it would be quite easy for Michigan to achieve this goal already,” Vangeest explained.

He also addressed some of the opposition.

“Republicans are claiming that it will raise taxes, but it won’t be that much. Some utilities will go up by 50 cents because the initial cost of switching will be more, but in the long term it will be cheaper for Michigan,” he said.

“This proposal will also create 94,000 jobs in the future. Right now, Michigan imports all of its coal, so this will help Michigan have all its energy in Michigan.”

Jake has been going to a farmers market to get signatures for the petition because the opposition believes there is no support for it.

“I don’t know the figures, but a while ago there is about 55% for it. We are trying to get 65% support so that it is guaranteed to be in the constitution.”

CAS Professor Smit has also been involved with the local elections. He serves as on the board of directors for the Disability Advocates of Kent County (DAKC). He has been involved in raising awareness of disabilities among local and state politicians.

“A lot of what I’ve been doing now is trying to raise a political consciousness of disabilities. DAKC has also been trying to raise a consciousness in the community with the campaign ‘Disability Is…’ using advertising and events to broaden people’s minds about disabilities.”

The Disability Advocates have been involved with Proposal 4, which would allow in-home care workers to bargain collectively with the Michigan Quality Home Care Council over wage scales, working hours and training, as well as other rights in the workplace.

Professor Smit explained what DAKC’s position on Proposal 4 is.

“DAKC is voting ‘no.’ They want to give more legislation for people who receive services, because in collective bargaining, there is a possibility of the quality of care being unsteady,” he explained.

However, Professor Smit is not sure what his position is yet.

“Personally, I haven’t decided yet, because I see the benefits of collective bargaining,” he remarked.

Another student has also been involved in the election process. Third-year student Zach Thayer is volunteering for the County Commissioner Shana Shroll. He canvasses neighborhoods to encourage people to vote.

Thayer has had met some impressive people while canvassing.

“I’ve met Michigan’s former Secretary of State, Terry Lynn Land. She’s nice and hard-working. She’s also interested in helping young people out. Very down-to-earth,” he said.

However, he has also had some discouraging experiences. He recounts one story of a displeased voter.

“I went to one door and they didn’t answer. So I slipped my paper under the door. Then this woman pulled in and I said, ‘Can I talk to you about Shana-Shroll?’ and she responded, ‘We’re Democrats here. I don’t appreciate you coming onto my property,’” she explained.

Overall, though, Thayer is proud of what he is doing, and wishes everyone would go out and vote.

“I think it’s important for people to vote, because you exercise your civic duty,” he said.

Elections take place Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Comments