Community advocate Michele Oberholtzer announces run for state representative


  • Courtesy Michele Oberholzter

Over the years, we at MT have had the occasion to run a few opinion pieces from Michele Oberholtzer, a housing rights activists who has worked to keep Detroiters facing foreclosure in their homes. You may have also seen Oberholtzer in a Vice News video on the foreclosure crisis.
Last week, she announced she's getting into politics by running for the Michigan House of Representatives, representing District 4. That seat is currently held by Democrat Rose Mary Robinson, and she will be unable to run for re-election in 2018 due to term limits.

Below please find her explanation of why she's seeking elected office, as well as a video from her campaign launch.

Dear friends,

For the past twenty years, we have been in an age whose motto seems to be “It’s the economy, stupid.” The national mindset has been focused on quantifying, commodifying, privatizing and corporatizing our society. From this mindset, the purpose of government is business, and the strength of the economy is the measure of our success.

The problem is that the economy is not the point. It is a proxy for our collective well-being, and an inaccurate one at that. The economy doesn’t account for wealth disparity, environmental cost, or mortality rates. Our deference to it means that quality-of-life becomes second priority, and the more we confuse the priority, the further we get from the truth.

The truth is that our single-minded focus on the economy has cloaked increasing income disparity in the myth of progress. It prioritizes strong quarterly returns at the expense of long-term environmental costs. It compromises holistic well-being for aggregate wealth.

I believe it is time to enter an age whose motto is “It’s the community, stupid."

In this system, our government would understand its role is public service. We would declare emergencies for human crises, not financial ones. We would give money to people who have no water, not take water from people who have no money. Taxes and fines would be collected as a way to pay for the things that improve quality of life, not as a punitive value judgment. There would be no such thing as mutually destructive practices that foreclose on homes at the expense of the entire neighborhood because a bill wasn’t paid.

When we prioritize the community, we put people before profit. We think beyond the next quarterly return, because we want lasting viability. We consider the environment because we understand that its health is linked with our own. We think collectively instead of individually, because we don’t live in fear of concentrated resources.

I am running for State Representative because I want to make this vision come true.

I am running because I believe I can make a positive difference.

I am running because I feel the urgency to stop the destructive state laws that are destroying Detroit communities.

I am running because I don’t know a better way than to put myself on the front lines of the source of the problem.

I am running because I am utterly, absurdly, illogically hopeful.

I am running because my sense of what is right is stronger than my fear about the work that it will take to get there.

Will you support me? Our team is doing a big end-of-year fundraiser, and your financial contribution would be deeply appreciated.

With thanks,

Michele Oberholtzer

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