From the Trail: Brave Leadership in Difficult Times


Pictured (Left to Right): Kristen McDonald Rivet, Sen. Winnie Brinks, Sen. Stephanie Chang, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald

Last night I had the privilege of attending Kristen McDonald Rivet's fundraiser/panel "Brave Leadership in Difficult Times," a wonderful opportunity to hear from several accomplished leaders in our state. These are moments that I want to make sure I am not taking for granted, so excuse me while I reflect on what was said and just why I think it is so important.


Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald, perhaps most known currently for leading the prosecution in the Oxford school shooting case, spoke to the importance of decision making in leadership. She walked through her normal decision making process of speaking with her team and having them all weigh in before making the final decision. But, more importantly, she spoke about knowing when to use that method and when not to. Prosecutor McDonald spoke about bypassing the normal process when deciding whether or not to press charges against the parents of the shooter, which she ultimately did. She spoke of how she knew this decision, right or wrong, would be on her - and so she wanted to make the call and ask her team what they thought afterwards, as she didn't want the decision to weigh on them as it had on her. She would rather risk losing re-election by doing what's right as opposed to making the "easy" decision and not taking the unprecedented move of putting the parents on trial for their negligence.


Also present was Senator Stephanie Chang. Senator Chang has served in the Michigan legislature since 2015, where she started as a representative before moving to the senate. Senator Chang is also the first Asian American woman to serve in the Michigan Legislature. The Senator spoke about the unprecedented times we find ourselves in, and having to govern under pressure. Senators Brinks and Chang reflected on the 2020 sessions of legislature, where gunmen sat in the gallery watching as they attempted to pass legislation in the midst of a pandemic. The Senator showed just why she is in the position she is in, and showcased the importance of bravery in leadership, especially in modern times.


Senator Winnie Brinks spoke to the importance of fighting no matter the odds. Senator Brinks has been in the Michigan Legislature since 2013, serving as both a representative and senator. The Senator is also the head of the Progressive Women's Caucus, which fights for equal pay and gender equality in all facets of life. She discussed the redistricting efforts of volunteers across the state and how important it is to continue this fight for equal representation in our state to ensure that their efforts were not in vain. Senator Brinks represents one of the few elected democrats in her region, despite a sizeable democratic voting base in the area. Her point isn't to shame anyone, but rather highlight how strong the people can be if they exercise their voting rights and make their voices be heard.


Finally, we heard from Kristen McDonald Rivet. For those who don't know (I'm sure that's very few of you), Kristen is the Democratic nominee for the 35th District of Michigan's Senate. This encompasses Saginaw, Bay City, and Midland. Kristen has a difficult journey ahead of her, but one that is winnable. McDonald Rivet spoke to the majority democratic voting base of the district and emphasized how important a simple "get out the vote" campaign can be in winning representation. She mentioned not simply sitting back but getting up and getting involved, however possible, in your local representation. She did a wonderful job hosting the event and taking the time to speak to everyone. I appreciate her tireless efforts to her campaign and our communities.


So, what did I learn from this? I learned, I suppose, that leadership isn't about having one style and always sticking to it. It's about being adaptable, whether that's eschewing your normal routine, remaining present in the face of adversity, refusing to give up no matter the odds, and how paying attention to even the simplest of details can make a world of difference. I learned that being brave isn't always about the fight in you but about the resiliency. It's about risking it all to do the right thing. It's about knowing that you care about and push forward your community, even if it means losing.


Again, it was a great honor for me to attend last night's event. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity, and thank Kristen McDonald Rivet and her team for putting it together and allowing me to be there.


As for what is going on in the campaign, just a few bits of housekeeping. I finally got word from our printer that shirts, signs, and postcards will be arriving soon. I also have it on good authority that our commercial will be edited and ready in time for our fundraiser on the 23rd of this month. And, oh yeah, we have a fundraiser on the 23rd of this month! The fundraiser will be a movie night, with a short speech and my commercial premiering before the movie. A big thank you to our hosts for the evening - Marcia Lalonde, Karen Barnt, Rick Knoff, Alaynah Smith, and the person who helped put this all together, Katrina Hutcheson. I am grateful to all of them as well as all of you for making nights like the 23rd possible.


Our movement is growing, slowly but surely. The election may seem forever away but I promise you it will be here before you know it, and our opponent will be ready. So let's put our heads down, show our own bravery in leadership, and push this movement forward! I will be at the Midland Democrats Booth at the Midland County Fair next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights at various times. Check my Facebook or Twitter for exact times on the day of if you want to stop by and say hello! Please keep heckling to a dull roar so as not to disrupt the fun (kidding).


Until next time, stay safe and keep fighting for the working class. This isn't possible without all of you. Thank you.


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