Jun 26, 2008

Next Michigan governor speaks in Livingston County

HOWELL – A packed house at the historic Livingston County Courthouse listened in rapt attention to the next governor of Michigan Tuesday evening, at least that’s what many in the crowd were hoping for when former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer spoke in the historic courtroom where he felt right at home.

Archer was a guest of the Livingston County Democratic Party to talk about the relationship between Michigan’s largest city and the suburbs, but one of the first questions during the Q & A period was will the Detroit Democrat run for Governor.

“I am looking at the governor’s office out of respect for the people who asked me to do so,” he said.

A poll taken by Raleigh, N.C.-based Public Policy Polling (PPP) on June 21-22 showed Archer ahead of some of Republicans who have been mentioned as possible candidates for the 2010 gubernatorial race. The poll has Archer besting U.S. Rep. Candice Miller by a wide margin of 41 to 29 percent and Attorney General Mike Cox 40 to 33 percent.

Archer has a varied and impressive resume that includes a stint as a public school teacher, a succesful law practice, a law professor, a Michigan Supreme Court Justice and the mayor of Detroit. He also has a solid business background and connections Democrats do not normally have, serving as the chair of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, serving on major boards like Compuware and serving as the chair of a major law firm that represents many large corporations. Many seem him as a force that can unite the bickering political forces that have helped stall progress in Michigan.

Although Archer is proud of his accomplishments that saw him rise out of poverty in rural west Michigan, he wants to ensure the next governor, who ever they may be, raises the bar and addresses the current problems Michigan faces.

“This state cannot afford to have somebody in office who is completing on-the-the-job-training.," he said. “They need to understand the needs of Michigan, and how to meet those challenges.”

Archer said the governor has to ensure the environment is conclusive for business to grow jobs as much as a governor can control certain factors, and he said the governor has done that.

“Business is in business not to lose money; business is in business to make money,” he said. “Jobs don’t create jobs, businesses create jobs. We have to create a climate in the state and in our communities that grows jobs.”

Archer cited the recent tax breaks for the film industry as a perfect example of creating that climate; and going after an industry that would not otherwise come to the state. He said he realized the importance of incentives for the film industry when the bio movie on the Temptations was not filmed in Detroit where the members grew up and thrived.

“It’s so rewarding to see Gov. Schwarzenegger in California try to figure out how to catch Michigan,” he said. “Don’t be surprised if you see them (filmmakers) come to Livingston County.”

Archer, a former public school teacher for five years, said education is going to both turn Michigan around and ensure the U.S. competes and wins in a global economy. He said the era when a high school diploma was all you needed to find a good-paying manufacturing job are long gone, and he said it will take a bare minimum of two years of education after high school to find a decent job.

“For America to be strong, we need to find a way to educate all of our children,” he said.

Archer, who grew up in poverty in rural Cassopolis, said it was the community as well as his parents that helped him get an education and rise out of poverty, and he said we need to get back to that because educating young people is everybody’s concern.

“I couldn’t go home from school in Cassopolis without someone saying, ‘come here boy and let we see that report card’ because they all knew when they came out,” he said. “Somewhere we lost our way.”

Archer said his father only had a third grade education and his mother a high school education, but he said from the day he was born his parents drilled into him he would be going to college.

“My parents made it clear to me my entire life I was going to go to college,” he said. “They didn’t know what I was going to study because they had never set foot on a college campus.”

One of the reasons Archer spoke in Livingston County was to speak on the relationship between Detroit and the suburbs. He said the health of Detroit will have a major effect on the state, and Detroit is a name that’s recognized all over the world. He said for business to decide to move to Michigan, the city and Detroit have to have a solid image, an educated workforce, solid infrastructure and incentives. Archer also said the entire metro region has to work together to be successful.

“It’s not about Detroit versus Livonia, Flint or Howell; Detroit is recognized worldwide,” he said. “It’s not just the Detroit region against the Chicago region, Baltimore region or the Los Angles region, it’s competing against the Tokyo region, the Bonn region or the Melbourne region.”

Archer said one of his proudest accomplishments was helping turn Detroit around. He said in this two terms as mayor, there was $22.2 billon worth of investment in Detroit, decreased crime and he helped turn devil’s night into angel’s night.

“Detroit did not have a good image,” Archer said. “There was not a lot of pride in Detroit.

“I found there was a reservoir of good will about Detroit because so many people had good memories of living here once,” he said.

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