EMU Political Science department hosts discussion on Urban Michigan

The political science department will hold a panel discussion, "Reflections from the Trenches," from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday in room 216 in Pray-Harrold. The third and final part in The Future of Urban Michigan Series will focus on Washtenaw County.

Former mayor of Ypsilanti Paul Schreiber, former mayor of Ann Arbor John Hieftje, and journalist Mary Morgan – who used to cover the local government beat for the Ann Arbor News and founded the Ann Arbor Chronical – will sit on the panel. Political science professor Joseph Ohren will facilitate the talk.

“The suggestion was that we have a group of officials who had just stepped down to reflect back on their careers,” Ohren said.

Arnold Fleischmann, head of the political science department, said they can talk about their perspectives more honestly now.

Each speaker will have 8 to 10 minutes to talk about their past experiences. They will then answer questions written by Ohren and from the audience. To close, they will talk about their next steps in life.

“What I’ve asked them to do is reflect on their own experiences, but also address some broader questions about how the state has treated local governments,” Ohren said. “Whether local governments across the state might potentially find themselves in the same position that the city of Detroit has.”

Ohren said he wants to celebrate the speakers’ successful careers in public service and that students should see them as role models.

“These are individuals who’ve walked the walk as opposed to just talking the talk,” he said.

Fleischmann said the speakers can help students decide if they want to stay in Washtenaw County to work and raise families.

“These folks have seen these places change and they can probably help us get a good perspective of what it might be like to stay here after [students] graduate,” he said.

Ohren said the discussion is about more than Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor.

“It’s about cities more generally across the state,” he said. “There have been a number of recent studies to suggest the state financing systems for local governments is broken.”

Fleischmann said the images for Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor are different.

“People have this image of Ypsilanti in terms of crime, poverty and the like,” he said. “Ann Arbor has a very different image. For some folks, Ann Arbor is in a position where middle income people may no longer be able to afford to live there because housing in going to be so expensive among other things.”

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