Blog: Nancy Short

It's no accident that Governor Snyder's delivery of the State of the State address today coincides with this week's writings by Nancy Short, deputy manager of appointments in the Office of Governor Snyder. Nancy will be discussing how the administration will translate the outcomes of Michigan's Community Conversations into action, as well as distinct new opportunities on the horizon.

Post 1: Ten Thousand Voices

Almost three years ago I was ready to get out of Lansing – away from downtown and the Capitol, away from the school on the banks of the Red Cedar, away from Mid-Michigan – so I jumped at the chance to be in my beloved Ann Arbor, in cosmopolitan Southeast Michigan and what was a quick run to campus through my favorite neighborhood – not to mention that I would be an integral part of the largest citizens' movement in Michigan's history at The Center for Michigan. It was a giant undertaking and an exciting prospect, meeting with 10,000 citizens and formulating a common ground agenda based on their concerns and hopes for our great state with implementable goals derived from their action items.  I had no idea what I was in for!

During the process and especially looking back on it, I feel very fortunate that I was able to travel extensively throughout our great state and get to know the cities, towns and villages that everyone and no one has ever heard of, experience the local culture, meet both the people who make the municipalities run and the ordinary citizens who cared more deeply about our future than most leaders ever recognized, learn about the struggles and successes of each region and really start to understand what is at the core of our state.  It was at times exhilarating and glamorous, and at times I just wanted to be home in my own bed, but through it all it was an absolutely amazing experience; I walked away knowing that I had learned so much about the state and myself, given back to the state that has given me so much, and made some of the most incredible friends.  Not to mention, it put me right where I am today – back in Lansing (don't you love karma?), and, more importantly, in the Governor's office. I couldn't be happier; I'm home.

My tenure at the Center for Michigan started in 2008 and ended at the close of 2010 in essentially the same way – meeting with the open seats and most competitive races in the election cycle to share the results of the Community Conversations and ask the candidates how willing they were to work on the collective voice of the state's citizens.  Out of those meetings in 2008 came the Bipartisan Freshman Caucus, co-chaired by Representatives Lesia Liss (D-Warren) and Bill Rogers (R-Brighton). I can only hope that the 2010 version (The Roadshow and The Great Debates) helped to inspire the Bipartisan Breakfast shortly after the election.  
In the middle, there were many community centers, bars, homes, school cafeterias, B&Bs, locally-sourced delights, unique cultural experiences and the most determined and caring people in our state to make up the Community Conversations – 10,123 engaged citizens in total!  With 10,000+ citizen voices in tow, I embarked on The Roadshow, a collaboration between The Center, Detroit Public Television and the University of Michigan-Dearborn, a 16-city, 200+ candidate adventure.  It was refreshing and inspiring to meet so many of the candidates running in the open seats – to see the enthusiasm and deep desire to be a part of something positive for Michigan.  This time around, more than ever before, candidates were running because of their commitment to the state, often leaving jobs that paid more than double what a legislative salary is; win or lose, they all will be serving the state in a positive manner in some capacity as we reinvent the state.  

My final "big event" (or in this case, EVENTS) was The Great Debates – bringing the candidates to the voting public through 30-minute debates and 15-minute interviews on the topics raised by the 10,000 citizens; it was the next best thing to having the candidate on your doorstep.  The Great Debates culminated in The Great Debate, the only gubernatorial debate this election cycle; I had the privilege of handling many of the week-off and day-off logistics.  

To sum up the core principles of the 10,000 people, which will be revisited in an upcoming post about the State of the State:  create a more business friendly, entrepreneurial environment; overhaul the Michigan tax system for the 21st century; build on Michigan's distinctive and competitive assets; change how and what schools teach; transform education operations and funding; hold educators, parents and students to higher standards; hold politicians – and ourselves – more accountable; extend or repeal term limits; develop and execute transparent and strategic budget solutions.  

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not represent the official views of the Office of Governor Rick Snyder.