On Wednesday, September 5, voters of Michigan's old 11th District will be urged to return to the polls to fix one of the most irresponsible campaign scandals in our state's history. At a price tag of $650,000, we will elect a representative for two months of service at a time when our cash-strapped communities are cutting back. This was entirely preventable.
Every resident of the old 11th district I've spoken with -- from Canton to White Lake, Milford to Belleville -- are outraged about this waste of taxpayer money. So am I, which is why I've pledged that I will remain out of the special election.
Voters were left largely in the dark through the confusion of the scandal and election laws. What wasn't told was how the candidates on the September 5 primary ballot could have prevented this reckless taxpayer expense. They could have refused to file and saved Oakland and Wayne County residents thousands, leaving one candidate for each party on the November 6 general election ballot instead. This is unfair to both taxpayers and our struggling communities in tough fiscal situations.
How can we expect our public officials to manage the federal deficit, keep Social Security and Medicare solvent, and reduce the debt with such disregard for their potential constituents' tax dollars?
Oakland County Commissioners recently joined Clerk Bill Bullard requesting the state to reimburse taxpayers for the cost of the primary. This would relieve taxpayers of the burden, but in the end McCotter must be held legally responsible for his own staffers' criminal activity. To date, he has been largely unscathed by his actions. While there is no precedent or current Michigan law that allows McCotter to pay for the election, he alone is responsible for the mess and should be held accountable. At the very least, former-Representative McCotter owes each citizen of the 11th district a wholehearted apology for the disaster he caused.
Candidates for the September 5 special election primary also owe an apology to voters this Wednesday. Despite my calls to boycott the primary for the undue expense on local governments, the candidates have insisted on running. Further, they have notoriously refused to campaign for the position, instead relying on name recognition or luck for the nod. Voters cannot effectively choose a candidate to serve out the remainder of the term if the candidates refuse to campaign. There is no debate on the issues, public vetting process, or media scrutiny. The people deserve better.
A recent Gallup Poll showed Congress' approval rating has fallen to 10 percent, the lowest in the 38-year history of the survey. Why? Americans are tired of apathetic politicians seeking office just for its grandeur, devoid of all seriousness for the issues facing our country. This scandal and special election are a perfect example.
This is why I've refused to run in Wednesday's special election. Please, vet your candidates; learn where they stand and why they're running. Our public officials need be held accountable and it starts with each vote.