Head Heart Hustle Herald
Sunday, August 5th Edition
VOTES FOR WOMEN
It’s really getting close! The house has been full of well-wishers, volunteers, family, former UCHC clients, co-workers, neighbors, random dogs, and food offerings. It is wonderful and invigorating. It’s a bizarre feeling to hear voices in the background leaving voicemails about “Michele Oberholtzer.” This is really it!
Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of campaigning with two very special Bengali friends of mine. One of them, Sodrul, has been a supporter for months, and he just recently realized that we should seek the help of a man who was the mayor of his hometown in Bangladesh. We went to a home and entered the top floor (I have learned to wear easily-removable shoes when I expect to go into Bengali homes), we sat down to a glass of Sprite and dry crackers, and I earned the support of this former mayor, Kibria. He later told me that one of my opponents, Syed Rob, asked him for help but he refused. For three days straight, we have made a beeline across Hamtramck to Bengali home (almost all of which bear a sign on their porches for Syed Rob). We knock doors and enter into homes that I alone could hardly make contact with. I listen to streams of Bengali language peppered with English words like “engineer” “neighbor” and “helpful!”. I have learned some phrases and, with their translation, I answer questions. I have earned many votes this way. People like that I am education, that I am caring, and that I am their neighbor (Mr. Rob is actually a resident of Warren who set up a temporary residence in Hamtramck in order to run for this election). I give our hearts to the children and practice Bengali phrases on my new acquaintances.
One of my favorite moments happened when we left a home and actually crossed paths with Syed Rob! As soon as we got back into the car, the two men started giggling like kids about getting caught helping me! At another home, Kibria knocked on the door insistently until the owner answered. This was the home of his relative and there were many voters who lived there. We sat in the living room and Kibria started his pitch but his cousin stopped him. “We all already voted for Michele absentee,” he said. Wow! He went on to say “I asked my eldest son- who do you support?” and he said “Michele.” I asked my second eldest “Who do you support?” and he also said “Michele.” So we all voted for her. Others remember me from the hearts I’ve given their children the bike I’ve ridden around these past few months. I hope enough of them vote for me Tuesday to make a difference.
In Detroit, I am gaining confidence to say” Listen, we’ve been by here twice already, will you vote for me or what??” The potholes, the blighted building, the sparse houses are the same as before. There is no question of the magnitude of the work, only who will make the greatest gains in tackling it.
Our fabulous campaign manager, Molly, has been glued to her chair for days on end, holding down campaign headquarters. But she recently got a window of time to leave the house and she chose to spend it knocking on doors. It was Friday night and a lot of people were out on their porches, a group of men cat-called her from across the street and she took that as an opportunity to get out the vote! As she passed out my card, one of the men said “Oh wow! That’s Michele. She helped me save this house.” He didn’t even know I was running. Molly gave him a handful of cards and told him to tell his friends of how hard-working I was. He needs a new roof but Molly kindly told him to “please wait until next Wednesday before you call Michele.
One of my favorite new hobbies is flipping voters from other candidates. When I see a yard sign on someone else’s lawn, I take it as an opportunity to let them know about me. The most rewarding moment happened when I went to the home of a woman who had a Rico Razo sign. I was prefacing my comments by saying how much I respect her right to vote for whoever she wants and she said “Oh, I didn’t even give anyone permission to put that up. I don’t even know him! Let’s just say that by the time I left, there was the same number of signs as when I got there but with a different name.”
It’s fun to believe that I can win. I don’t focus on the fear or the shoulda’woulads. I know I could have done more with more time or experience or money but we have run a DAMN FINE campaign and I am so proud. On top of it all, we are having fun! We’re meeting wonderful people, we are receiving incredible amounts of generosity and kindness and support, and we are engaging in a process of hope that makes our hearts feel better than our aching feet are feeling bad.
If you want to help us honor the experience, the effort, and the community that have gone into this campaign, please join us for a potluck at campaign headquarters (aka my house) and the end of the day this Tuesday. We’ll face the results, win or lose, and celebrate what we’ve done, win or lose. 2694 Trowbridge starting about 8 or 8:30pm.
When I go to a home and I hear that someone has a $2500 water bill, or that the car they its still two years from being paid off but but can’t be driven because of the cost of insurance, or the aging roof that the senior’s pension can’t pay to fix and there are no programs to help- when I hear those kinds of stories, I overwhelmed with the burden of responsibility that I am assuming in running for public office. All of those problems, and so many more, become part of my responsibility if I am a state representative.
And is it my job, then, to send those concerns further up the chain of command, to the governor and to congress and to the White House? In part yes, but the solution doesn’t lie at the apex, and one leader can be the hammer for every nail, we need systemic change, and it’s some something I can claim to foresee a way to.
But I am no longer in any doubt of my merit as a candidate. I know that I am smart enough, experienced enough and caring enough to do a good job at this job. I know that I will be helpful to people in a way they are not used to, and I hope I can bring more pieces closer together.
I am hopeful about Tuesday in the way that anyone who engaged in competition should be- just crazy enough to think I might really win! This campaign has a beautiful momentum with the Free Press Endorsement, wonderful publicity in Metro Times, and wonderful experience after wonderful experience with potential voters. We have hit so many doors- it’s a wonder anyone answers them anymore.
I try to take time to support other candidates that I believe in. When I see a Shri sign, I try to talk them out of it (He wants to run government like a business– Sounds like putting money before people. Remember Flint?- and he’s been bankrupt before– Sounds like he’s not so great a business. Remember Trump?)
I am excited about Abdul El-Sayed’s race for governnor. I am hopeful about Rashida Tlaib‘s race for congress. I am pulling for Abraham Aiyesh‘s campaign in my senate district and Stephanie Chang in the first Senate district. I am pulling for lots of great candidates outside of my district including Seydi Sarr and Charlsetta Wilson. (Votes for Women!) If I get elected, I would love to work with and carpool to Lansing with these people. If I don’t, I would love to live in a state where they are helping to steer the ship.