Letter to the Editor: Clarkston city council candidate clarifies qualifications

Dear Editor,

Last week, in a letter to the editor, a resident of the City of the Village of Clarkston wrote that I am unqualified to run for office because I am living away from my principal residence during an extensive renovation (“Council candidate not qualified to run,” Clarkston News, October 20, 2021).
The purpose of this letter is to clear the air on this matter.
On a number of occasions, City Attorney Tom Ryan has offered a favorable legal opinion on this matter. In his letter to The Clarkston News, attorney Richard Bisio offered an opposing opinion. I suspect that, if I chose to consult a third attorney, I might get yet another opinion. Life’s too short. And the election’s less than a week away. So I’m sticking with the city attorney’s opinion (an opinion that was corroborated last week though research done at the State of Michigan level by the city clerk) that I qualify in every way to be a candidate for city council in the November 2 election.
I had lived in my historic home on North Main Street just shy of two years when my husband Jim and I decided to tackle some much-needed renovations. Then, we were all shut down by the COVID pandemic. Progress on our renovation has been slow, due to shortages of building materials and tradespeople. My home is temporarily uninhabitable, so I divide my time between North Main Street and temporary lodging. I believe the law community calls this being “temporarily dispossessed.”  But I ”check all the boxes” for inclusion on the ballot as a write-in candidate for council. I have a voter registration card with my home address on it. I am listed as a payer of taxes on a principal residence in the city. And I have a valid driver license with my picture and my home address on it and I also receive my mail at this address.
When I decided to run for a city council seat, I did so with the desire to make the City of the Village of Clarkston a better place. Plain and simple, I decided to run for city council this calendar year because I believe everyone has a voice in government, I believe in working for the common good and not just for my own wants and needs. I believe Clarkston is a good place – a great place – with tremendous family values and a strong entrepreneurial presence. My husband and I chose to raise our three children in this area, attending the Clarkston Schools and as members of the Clarkston United Methodist Church. We have been fully engaged in schools, sports, church, and community for our 30 years in Clarkston. In 2018, we moved to the City of the Village of Clarkston after buying one of the historic homes on Main Street.
I will never claim to be a perfect person. I don’t want to be perfect. But what I will say is that all of this could have been avoided with a simple phone call to me from these concerned residents questioning me on my eligibility. I could have then given them the information that they sought, allayed their fears of my ineligibility, and avoided controversy in the paper. A neighborly gesture – because neighbors are what we are – would have put this confusion to rest. Public admonition, meant to sow seeds of doubt in our town’s voting population, will never serve the common good, but is a self-serving gesture to control the narrative. It is exactly why I am asking for the people of the City of the Village of Clarkston to write in my name for a seat on City Council.
And don’t forget to put the ‘d’ in Rodgers!

Laura Rodgers

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