Blog: Dan Gilmartin

Dan Gilmartin is our guest blogger this week. He is the youngest executive director in the 108 year history of the Michigan Municipal League. Dan previously served as the League's deputy director and as an advocate in Lansing and in Washington, where he concentrated on transportation, land use and urban redevelopment.

Check back here each week day to read Dan's thoughts on regionalism and how we can build the kind of community that attracts knowledge-based workers.

Post No. 5

At the Michigan Municipal League we advocate for communities. If you have been reading my earlier posts you know that we and many others are sold on the fact that rebuilding Michigan’s economy begins with rebuilding the cities that we call home.  

Local governments police your streets and pick up your garbage. They patch pot holes and maintain parks. Water and sewer, libraries, little leagues, ice rinks… you name it, it’s your local government that provides these services.  

If you really care about communities in Michigan, I implore you to get involved in advocacy efforts to help them out. Too often “local” issues get short changed in the legislative process because something sexier or more tangible comes along to replace them. As a result, legislators often don’t hear from their constituents before big votes that affect communities.This needs to change if we want to refocus our efforts in Michigan.  

There are a number of very important community issues that are currently before elected legislative bodies in Lansing and Washington. In Washington there is a continuation of the unending fight to return a fair share of federal gas tax dollars back to Michigan for roads and transit projects. In Lansing they are considering rewriting several major tax codes and changing the structure of local government. It is vital that people who feel that the “city” perspective is important in the debate become motivated to advocate for change.  

The disinvestment in Michigan’s communities, particularly our core cities, has got to stop if we hope to compete successfully in the new global jobs market. Providing resources and an atmosphere for success is crucial if we are to succeed. So don’t reserve your calls and e-mails to legislators for the “once in a hundred years” issue. Contact them regularly and ask what they are doing to assist your hometown in meeting the needs of its residents.