The recent midterm elections set records and brought change on many fronts. Voter turnout was the first in a midterm to exceed 100 million with 49 percent of eligible voters casting a ballot and a record number of those doing so early.
Democrats took control of the House while Republicans maintained power in the Senate. A record 113 women now hold seats in Congress including two Native Americans, two Muslims, the youngest Congresswoman ever at 29, the first openly bisexual US Senator, and record numbers of Black and LGBT Representatives.
More women than ever ran for state governorships and the first openly gay male was elected as Colorado’s governor. Campaign spending hit a record high and there was a spike in youthful voting with an estimated 31 percent turnout of people ages 18 to 29 according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE).
While an improvement, the U.S. Census Bureau data shows the lowest percentages of registered and active voters are found among young people. The Pew Research Center reports this age group is quickly becoming the largest eligible voting generation. In order to also be the most influential, it is imperative to become familiar with the issues, communicate with and hold representatives responsible, and most importantly vote to elect those who share your values and concerns.
Below are our GLCS newly elected board members:
Gull Lake School Board Member Jeff Brown (Six-year term)
GL Board for 17 years. Former director of a leading dropout prevention program, the Kalamazoo Poverty Reduction Initiative, the YMCA Health and Wellness Center and Housing and Student Activities at GVSU. He has operated his own business for 22 years, served on numerous boards, and his three children are all GL graduates.
Brown (who was able to answer several questions of mine) explains why he became a member of the Gull Lake School Board:
“I remain committed now, as I have always been to helping to provide a broad curriculum which empowers our students to achieve, learn in ways that work best for their particular learning style and prepares them for the next steps in their lives, while reflecting the ‘ real world’ opportunities and challenges they will encounter. I believe every citizen has a responsibility to serve their community, I have been fortunate to be supported in my love of public service by the voters of the District. I believe public education is critical to a successful democracy.”
When asked about about issues within the district that need to be improved upon:
“We need to continue on our path of promoting project based learning, reading success, safe and secure buildings and learning environments, early college, homeschool partnerships, talented and gifted programs and any and all learning platforms which make learning relevant and exciting for our students. We need to continue to find the best educators to work in the District and support them with the resources necessary for them to be the best at their craft. Of course, it’s critical we do all of this while maintaining a balanced budget which demonstrates sound fiscal policy and meets the expectations of all members of the Gull Lake Community.”
Gull Lake School Board Member Lin Marklin (Six-year term)
GL Board member for nine years serving on Policy, Curriculum, Finance, and the Technology Bond steering committees. KCC instructor and small business owner.
Priorities are: developing and maintaining a fiscally responsible budget, hiring a well-suited new superintendent, and ensuring the best curriculum for successful graduates.
Gull Lake School Board Member Laura Zervic (Six-year term)
New to the GL Board. An attorney and active volunteer in multiple school organizations including GLCS Fine Arts Foundation, GLM PTSO, Director of talent shows Sparkle and Shimmer, and Co-chair of the 2018 Gull Lake Bond Campaign.
Priorities are: finding a well-qualified superintendent to facilitate the district’s growth and continued success, ensuring the safety and security of the students, ensuring a fiscally responsible administration of the bond funds, and using the upgraded facilities to enhance the curriculum.
I was also able to correspond with Zervic and ask what motivated her to become a Gull Lake School Board Member:
“I have been considering running for a position on the school board for many years. As a proud parent of two Gull Lake students, I cannot think of a better way to devote my time and energy than ensuring the best opportunities are available to my children and the children of the district to help them realize their greatest potential. My desire was ignited by my work on the committee to help pass the $64 million school bond in May. During the development of this proposal, I had the opportunity to work with strong community members and the School Board. The more I witnessed the thoughtful way in which the School Board approached the proposal and how the School Board operates, the more clear my decision became. In addition, I want to be in a position to have more influence over policies of the School District, including the curriculum, the opportunities available to the students and practices designed to ensure the safety and security of our students.”
Gull Lake School Board Member Mini Paulose-Murphy (Two-year term)
A microbiologist working for General Dynamics Information Technology and actively volunteering in the schools coaching Girls on the Run and Odyssey of the Mind while serving on the Grants Committee of the GLCS Foundation.
When asked why she initially became a Gull Lake School Board Member, Murphy replied:
“Having three daughters in the Gull Lake community schools was my key motivator for running for the school board. I wanted to be involved in the policies that affected their education. I wanted to contribute in some way to improve the already excellent education that Gull Lake provides.”
When asked, are there any issues within the school district/ things that in particular need to be improved upon, that you’ve come to notice since becoming a Gull Lake board member?
“We currently have an excellent school system with dedicated, caring and committed teachers, staff and administrators. We have several alternative and innovative programs currently available to our students. I would like to see growth and evolution of these programs with an added focus in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). I would also like to see a talented and gifted program implemented in K-5 and additional vocational training offered at the HS. I think it is important to make sure every student is provided with the necessary educational tools needed to succeed.”
Below you will find summarized information from that provided to the League of Women Voters and the Kalamazoo Gazette by those recently elected to represent you:
Governor Gretchen Whitmer (Democrat, Four-year term)
Holds a BA and JD from MSU, served as MI State Representative for six years, MI State Senator for nine years.
Priorities are: fixing roads and infrastructure, affordable healthcare for all, better funding for education and skilled trades, raising the minimum wage to $15, investing in Michigan’s renewable energy sector, protecting the Great Lakes, fighting for women’s rights, and building a diverse and representative cabinet.
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (Democrat, Six-year term)
Holds a BA and MSW from MSU, served as U. S. Senator for seventeen years, U.S. Representative for four years, Michigan State Senate for three years, and Michigan State Representative for 12 years.
Priorities are: creating diverse jobs in Michigan, Great Lakes restoration, supporting Michigan agriculture and rural communities, comprehensive immigration reform, lowering healthcare and drug costs for Michigan families, promoting skilled trades and technical training and related job opportunities, developing clean energy technologies, and ensuring fair and transparent elections.
U.S. Congressman Fred Upton (Republican, Two-year term)
Holds a BA from U of M, served as U.S. Representative for thirty years, former Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, served on bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, served on bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. Priorities are: economic stimulus through tax cuts, protection and preservation of the Great Lakes, research and development of 21st century medical treatments and cures, combating the opioid crisis, bipartisan immigration reform including border security and honoring DACA, affordable quality healthcare for everyone, an energy strategy that combines emerging technologies with traditional solutions, pipeline safety, campaign finance reform, and modernizing and maintaining voting rights.
Michigan State Senator Sean McCann (Democrat, Four-year term)
Holds a BS from WMU, small business owner, Kalamazoo City Commissioner for ten years, Michigan State Representative for four years.
Priorities are: expanding access to healthcare; investing in roads and infrastructure; making a financial investment in all levels of education including trade schools and community colleges focused on technical and emerging fields; reforming elections through independent redistricting, no excuse absentee voting, and campaign finance transparency; immediate decommissioning of Line 5; converting power plants from coal to gas, increasing clean and renewable energy sources; incorporating civil rights protections for LGBTQ citizens in state statute; and addressing racial inequality in the criminal justice system.
Michigan State Representative Matt Hall (Republican, Two-year term)
Holds a BBA and JD from WMU, Constitutional law attorney, former West Michigan liaison for Michigan Attorney General’s Office, worked in private sector combat propulsion systems manufacture.
Priorities are: lower auto insurance rates through increasing competition and decreasing fraud, supporting education and promoting skilled trades training, cutting taxes and over-regulation, rebuilding road and water infrastructures, prioritizing early literacy and vocational, career, and technical programs, repealing Common Core and giving more authority to local boards, accountability and funding based on subject matter mastery at one’s own pace, science based environmental regulation, requiring photo ID to vote, reducing abortions, and requiring a conviction before the government can seize a person’s assets.
- This is my first year on The Reflection’s staff, currently writing in the sports’ section. Outside of school, I am an avid reader of environmental and political articles. Being always up for a debate or any chance to make my opinion hear, I enjoy writing opinion pieces. An avid fan of the Mola Mola Sunfish, I wish to pursue a career in the marine biology field. I look forward to uncovering the truth surrounding all the dirty deeds that go on around here.