Katy and I moved to Ann Arbor 27 years ago when we both accepted positions with the then Sisters of Mercy Health Corporation. For me, it was a move back to Ann Arbor from my home town of Muskegon, as I had been a student in the 1960s at the University of Michigan Law School, and lived in the beautiful Law Quadrangle all three years. Upon graduation, I worked for a year at the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C., and then received a commission in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps. After two different billets in Washington, I spent my final year in Vietnam where my primary duty was to preside on Special Courts Martial as a Military Judge, riding a circuit from my base in the “Rung Sat Special Zone” (translated as “Forest of Assassins”) to courtrooms in Danang and Cam Ranh Bay, as well as other assigned legal matters. When I was discharged, I took advantage of the G.I. Bill and enrolled in Harvard Law School’s Master of Laws program in Urban Legal Studies, which included subjects such as land use planning, state and local taxation, and federal urban policy. I also cross enrolled for some coursework at the Harvard Business School and the Graduate School of Design.
I then moved back to Muskegon where I had grown up with my family, including my mother and seven brothers and sisters, and practiced law, specializing in representing and advising cities, townships, villages, planning organizations and private clients in my chosen area, until the political bug bit me. I ran for and was elected to the Michigan State Senate in 1974, and represented the residents of 6 counties in Western Michigan, and made contacts and friendships across the state, and particularly in Lansing. I left the Senate in 1978 to make a run for the United States Senate in the primary, but was thoroughly bested by still Senator Carl Levin, who was and remains a good friend.
I returned to the practice of law in Grand Rapids with a large firm, but was also serving as an outside Director of the Sisters of Mercy Health Corporation headquartered in Farmington Hills. SMHC asked me to join its staff and create an in-house “Office of Legal and Public Affairs” and to serve as its General Counsel and Vice President for Public Affairs. Which I did, getting the office up and going, then went back to law practice, then taught at Cooley Law School, and ended up serving for 12 years as Director of Government Relations for the Michigan Association of School Boards as its Director of Government Relations. I commuted from Ann Arbor to Lansing , travelled around the state, and to Washington, D.C. on federal education matters.
When I retired from MASB four years ago, a seat opened up on the Ann Arbor City Council and, while I had not run for public office for 30 years, I had an abiding interest in local government issues and solutions, given my previous graduate work and practice specialty. I had also worked locally with a number of service, cultural and non-profit entities. Katy and I talked about it, and a couple of earnest coffee house discussions with other elected officials and friends concluded in the decision to run. The ensuing campaign was strongly geared to going door to door, listening to residents across Ward 2, and discussing their needs and views, and those of the City of Ann Arbor as a whole. I was gratified by winning in 2008, and then was re-elected in 2010. I have been fortunate in receiving a number of key assignments on City Council, and I have launched this blog to provide up to date information on all these activities, on issues coming before City Council and its entities, and my views on them and longer range matters that Ann Arbor should be considering. As my initial campaign slogan said it, and which still remains the inspiration, Let’s Make Our Great Community Even Better!