On the front page of Manistique's weekly newspaper, the Pioneer Tribune of 08/17/00, is a short article that concludes:
"Only one candidate for the district seat will be listed on the ballot in November - Republican Doug Erickson. It is unknown at this point if anyone will mount a write-in campaign for that seat."
The seat is Schoolcraft County Commissioner, District Four, that includes Precinct 3 of the City of Manistique.
On 08/18/00 I updated my legal requirement forms at the Schoolcraft County Courthouse and today, 08/19/00 I formally announce that I, Peter Markham, will run as a "write in" candidate for Schoolcraft County Commissioner, District Four, that includes Precinct 3 of the City of Manistique.
"Why is Peter Markham running for Schoolcraft County Commissioner?"
I am running as a write-in candidate because:
I can make a positive difference in Schoolcraft County government.
I can make a positive difference in Schoolcraft County's economic future.
The experience appeals to me.
It beats standing still when I have no reason to believe Doug Erickson will, in any capacity, represent my interests and values.
Both the Schoolcraft County Republican and Democratic parties appear bankrupt of qualified, honorable candidates.
Why should you write in "Peter Markham" for District 4 County Commissioner, this November?
Peter Markham represents, better than the other candidates, your values and view of the future.
You want the other candidates less than Peter Markham.
You want a commissioner with a variety of skills, knowledge and experience...
You want someone that refuses to base decisions on whim and gross ignorance...
You want someone that is willing and able to learn...
You want someone that is not driven by hidden agendas...
You want someone to represent the "public interests"...
You want someone that owes nothing to anyone...
You want someone that will communicate openly and honestly...
You want someone that does not threaten bodily harm or undefined retribution...
For years, my letters, published in local newspapers, indicate my politics are consistent and based on issues, not personalities. Conclusions I reach, speculated or real, in public or private, are always based on the merits of the business at hand. My decisions as Manistique City Councilman were based on the merits of the issues, not on politics or personalities.
I have been shouted down and threatened at public meetings, but never faltered in purpose. Though passionate with speech and pen, I do not recollect having ever shouted down or threatened anyone with more than an expressed logical consequence of the business considered. I will not be intimidated.
I believe in and have worked toward a better future for Manistique and Schoolcraft County, and will work to obtain the best value for Schoolcraft County tax dollars.
I work well with others, if the business at hand does not prey upon Schoolcraft County residents and is based upon principles of good government, well established in more enlightened and progressive US communities.
My web site, http://www.manistique.org, provides plenty of insight to my philosophy, ethics, point of view, etc. relative to some local government issues. Other than a few stock images, everything at the web site is my own work, with no support or help from others. It is me, warts and "all".
Relative to my moral character, these 2 generalities are representative:
In our society, most predatory behaviour should not be tolerated.
What goes on between consenting adults, able to exercise free will, is their business, as long as there are no victims, deliberate or consequential.
The following should be irrelevant to my candidacy, but it isn't. I have spent over 2 military tours in South East Asia during the Vietnam War. I have been shelled, rocketed, mortared and shot at in places like Da Nang and Cam Rhan Bay. I was instrumental in the field development and evaluation of much of the technology that made "Desert Storm" a success. I was discharged honorably. There is nothing more I will speak of, relative to this subject.
The following is a statement of facts relative to my view of life and any humor noted is purely unintentional.
I am not perfect.
I do not know everything, but if appropriate, I learn.
I do engage in activities disapproved of by others that are perfect.
I use, occasionally, idiomatic epithets or slurs.
I have been "politically incorrect", and expect to be again.
I have never harbored ill will, directed to any generic group, based on race, color, ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, political affiliation, cereal preference, or whatever may be the political or societal fear of the day.
I do harbor ill will toward certain individuals of certain generic groups for specific and objective reasons.
I do not suffer fools and bigots, gladly, but I have learned to live with them.
I have been known to bore people to tears with technical details that keep airplanes flying, boats afloat, water towers standing and me alive.
I have a more 20th and 21st century view of the world than most in Manistique politics.
For the 2000 primary, the Schoolcraft County Democratic and Republican party were bankrupt of a better qualified candidate than Doug Erickson.
I just threw my hat into the ring.
If elected, I will perform my elected responsibilities in a conscientious manner consistent with general public interest as the ultimate standard of choices I make.
Come November, if a better qualified candidate has not surfaced, please cast your write in vote for for Peter Markham as Schoolcraft County Commissioner of District 4.
Today, I submitted a letter to the sitting Board of Commissioners, stating my desire to complete Mr. Rodman's term for the months of October through December. No application submission date or application consideration date is included in the public notice published by the Pioneer Tribune. A recent newspaper article prompted the submission of my letter of interest. The article indicated my absent request and stated that other letters of interest had been opened at the last commissioners audit meeting.
It was stated in the public notice that:
"The Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners reserves the right to reject any and all applications, to waive informalities, and to accept any application deemed by the Board to be in the best interests of Schoolcraft County."
The statement indicates all applications are viable or worthless upon receipt, at the Board's discretion. Maybe the board will share the specific reasons for decisions made, maybe not. An implied atmosphere of subjective bias to achieve the "best interests of Schoolcraft County" is no rousing call for qualified applicants with few political IOUs.
I hope the actual process goes beyond the language of the public notice and the power of political position.
I attended the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners meeting, this evening. On the face of their regular business all appeared business like and appropriate. The irregular business of choosing an applicant to finish commissioner Rodman's term left me with a degree of disappointment; more than I expected. Holly Thill, a person I have no recollection of, in the political arena or as a spectator, was nominated and appointed, ostensibly, on the words of commissioner Scholander. Two of her credentials, of which I remember Mr. Scholander sang praises, were Ms. Thill's grade point average and her ability to bring a woman's perspective to the board.
After I gave Mr. Scholander's wisdom little consideration, it occurred to me that a political rival, "Hawk" Erickson, could bring a handicapped person's perspective to the board with a more appropriate grade point average earned in the school of hard knocks bumping heads with me and others in local politics, over the years. I am sure that Mr. Scholander had his reasons for nominating Ms. Thill and that the majority of board members had their reasons to appoint her. I hope it was not because she is a young woman with a high grade point average.
I wish you well, Ms. Thill, and look forward to the election. Regardless of the outcome, I will enjoy it.
PS. I wanted to get my thoughts on paper before initiative and impressions faded. My apologies for names I may spell incorrectly.
Congratulations, Doug Erickson, for winning the county commissioner election.
You have the values that the voting public of District 4 desire by an umpteen to 1 margin. As I garnered only 2.9% of the total votes cast, it is obvious my values are not shared by others. My political aspirations will cease at this time and I will get on with life.
Your win showed that it takes more than an appointment, and public promotion with hugs from a sitting county commissioner to get elected.
You earned it.
I am not much for "attaboys, or attagirls". To me, someone that takes a job should complete the task, to the best of their ability, within the context of what is expected of them, from those with whom they have entered into contact, public or private. Contrary to that general view of mine, I offer the following "Attaboy!", from my perspective, to Schoolcraft County Commissioner Doug Erickson, along with reasons why he deserves kudos, and why he deserves to be re-elected.
Since 11/08/00, when he whipped my ass, at the poles, I have watched him at work, at various Manistique City Council and Schoolcraft Board of Commissioner meetings. He has shown me that he is not perfect; but, he has strived, mightily, to be responsible, honest, informed and fair in his judgement, holding the general public good as his standard for decisions. Given the public business I have witnessed, he has gone beyond what I would expect of anyone seeking to represent the general public in a Schoolcraft County political environment virtually devoid of honesty and integrity. Yes, I admit my early judgement of him was wrong.
Here are a some anecdotes, drawn from an imperfect memory, that help provide a basis for my support of a past political rival.
During the early 90s, as a "fairly regular" spectator and combatant, at the Manistique City Council meetings arena, I witnessed Doug Erickson, private citizen, represent some interest or the other, in a direct and candid style. During his term as City Councilman, the same style prevailed. As a consequence, he was considered by his political peers as a "trouble maker" and political "bad boy". Witnessing his style of political business, in the context of biased political gossip from those I considered his "betters", I accepted the views of my peers as preferable to his. I do not remember speaking to Doug, directly, man to man, regarding any issue he championed at those early public meetings.
Today, regarding Mr. Erickson, I regret my faith in the words of most I listened to. As time progressed, especially after he was elected as a Schoolcraft County Commissioner, I realized there was a lot more to the man, and his politics, than most folk give credit.
I had no specific reason to speak with Doug until I receieved a phone call from Manistique Mayor, Peggi Arnold, asking me if I was interested in running against Doug Erickson, for county commissioner. As a consequence of the subsequent conversation, she offered me the same information regarding an unfortunate incident in Mr. Erickson's private life, that she had obtained for Meg Wnuk, in Meg's effort to turn an incident of Doug's private foolishness into public shame, with the apparent goal of trashing Mr. Erickson's public and private life. The incident surrounded the sexual advances of an unsupervised mentally ill female sexual predator client of Hiawatha Behavioral Health. I accepted Peggi's offer, read the contents, carefully, and then made arrangements with Doug to talk about what I had read.
Mr. Erickson spoke to me, candidly, about the details and context of a completed state police investigation, the documentation of which Mayor Arnold told me she acquired from Schoolcraft County Prosecutor, Peter Hollenbeck. I realized, after my conversation with Doug, that I had done him a serious diservice. I had believed those, who, with malice or otherwise, for many reasons, had deceived me, and others, by perpetuating malicious gossip. I, in turn, helped to perpetuate that malicious gossip because of my belief in the integrity of others and my failure to "get the facts" and form my own conclusions. I allowed others' flexible ethics to victimize me, and, consequentially, Mr. Erickson.
Hopefully, I will not make a similar mistake, soon, though I know I will be deceived again. It is just a matter of time.
Most of Mr. Erickson's public policy related political misery, at that time, centered around well founded allegations of alcohol abuse and managerial incompetence in Schoolcraft County Public Transit operations. As a consequence of his attempts to address the unjustified firing of Schoolcraft County Public Transit Driver, Ron Risdon, and the consequences of alcohol abuse and Public Transit mismanagement, Commissioner Erickson was advised and threatened by others than Mayor Arnold and Ms. Wnuk.
COPIES of Documents
Nothing came of the threats and Commissioner Erickson recanted nothing of what he said and knew to be true. The heat was intense, and Commissioner Erickson did not buckle.
At the time that the Schoolcraft County Public Transit allegations and denials were obscuring most folks' vision, the deliberate and malicious attempt to was mounted by Ms. Wnuk and Mayor Arnold to discredit Mr. Erickson, based on the investigative documents concerning the sex related allegations of an unsupervised mentally ill female sexual predator client of H.B.H. A subsequent attempt to recall Commissioner Erickson, based upon contrived, vague, and unjustified reasons, failed to get sufficient support for the petition, as Mr. Erickson continued to represent the voters of his district, in an honest and forthright manner. His public record spoke for itself.
About the time that Mr. Erickson was ducking the volley of political bullets, I was asked, by several local business owners, why it was that no one had succeeded to bring him down. My explanation was short and sweet: Doug does his homework, pays attention to detail, understands the issues within the confines of his ability, and makes it his business to do as much "right" as possible. It is hard to remove a conscientious and able politician for doing, for the general public, what is right, to the best of his ability. Such folk are a rare breed in Schoolcraft County public office.
A following attempt, by Ms. Wnuk, to create a basis for political retribution, by claiming that some $21? of phone bills, over the course of a year, were for personal business, failed when it was revealed that the calls, to his computer savvy brother, had saved the county computer related service bills far in excess of the phone calls bills.
I found it quite remarkable that Commissioner Erickson was able to remain civil, and relatively effective, under the constant heat from his political rivals, that included a majority of his fellow commissioners that found it difficult to accept his honest, reasoned and candid approach to local government.
One specific attempt to neutralize Commissioner Erickson's effectiveness, beyond legal intimidation tactics, is worthy of notice. Chairman Scholander decided it was time to undermine Commissioner Erickson's effectiveness by limiting the amount of "office time" the Chairman would allow Doug. Sholander created a schedule for the use of the Commissioners office facilities, in the Schoolcraft County Courthouse. The combined 8-5PM "commissioner time" of Scholander, Aldrich, and Frennette, was a fraction of Commissioner Erickson's, yet the chairman found it necessary to cripple Erickson's effectiveness with a schedule that denied Commissioner Erickson the use of the office facilities, while the other commissioners were working, or playing, elswhere.
Copy of proposed schedule
I speculate that the Chairman, and others, feared Mr. Erickson's growing influence because Erickson invested more of his life, than his peers, learning, understanding and applying principles of sound, open and equitable government.
To appreciate the deceit and malice in the 8-5 schedule, keep in mind the following. Mr. Sholander had a full time position with the City, as Superintendant of Public Works. Commissioner Aldrich had a full time position running a forest products business. Commissioner Frenette spent almost no time in the office, and Commissioner Dufour had no problems sharing office facilities at the same time, with anyone.
County Board Chairman Sholander's plan, to cripple Commissioner Erickson's effectiveness, died with the Chairman. I was thankful for that.
From my perspective, Commissioner Erickson's endeavors to help run Schoolcraft County, for the benefit of the general public, have met a fair amount of resistance from certain commissioners with different perspectives of who the beneficiaries of county policy should be. Given Erickson's long term integrity, that I have witnessed and "inspected", regarding his approach to public business, as far as I am concerned, his attempts to do the right thing are beyond reproach, within the limitations imposed by the self-centered antagonism of various Schoolcraft County movers and shakers, displayed toward Commissioner Erickson's efforts.