Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Building a Better Michigan, John Freeman's Way

The era of political campaigns in which politicians talked and voters listened is over, thanks to President Obama and the social networking phenomenon, and John Freeman knows that.

Freeman, who spoke to the Livingston County Democrats' 26th annual Winans Dinner on Sunday (May 3, 2009), says leading Michigan in the future must include engaging the public, as well as having strong leadership. Freeman, whose wife Amy Chapman ran Barack Obama's campaign in Michigan, says Obama demonstrated in that campaign that engaging the public is critical not just to the campaign, but to governing.

A series of health care meetings organized by the Obama team even before he took office was an example of that engagement of the public.

Now director of Health Care for America Now in Michigan, Freeman is a former state lawmaker who expects to seek the Democratic nomination for governor in 2010. He already has a website up, as well as a blog where he has solicited public comments.

Freeman says Michigan should focus on five factors that businesses look for in deciding where to expand: A strong higher education system that remains affordable to citizens; a solid infrastructure that includes broadband Internet as well as roads and sewers; a great natural environment, which means Michigan's proximity to the Great Lakes; health care, including a public plan that will be cheaper than insurance plans offered by for-profit insurance companies, and a sense of community.

Businesses "want to be in a state where people are respected," he said.

Those are Freeman's ideas, but he wants to hear others' ideas, too.

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