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‘Michigan Matters’ - How Fox Run in Novi, the most active voting precinct in the state, stays aware of political issues
May 2, 2016 by Meghan Streit
Photo: Gov. Snyder speaks at Fox Run

NOVI, MI - When Election Day arrives in November, one particularly active precinct in Michigan is sure to show up at the polls. Fox Run retirement community -- home to about 1,200 residents and its own voting precinct—historically has the best voter turnout in the entire state.

“We are a wonderful voting block for anybody running for office to come and visit,” says resident Jerry Scheel, who heads up Fox Run’s political awareness committee.

The committee has nine members who plan events to keep their neighbors at Fox Run informed about important political issues and candidates for office.

Elected officials who have visited Fox Run include Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, and U.S. Senator Carl Levin. Local candidates running in Novi’s mayoral or city council races have also made campaign stops at Fox Run.

“The events tend to be very well represented by the people who live here—we fill up the auditorium of more than 200 seats,” Jerry says. “And the candidates and elected officials generally really love coming to Fox Run because we are an active and engaged group of people.”

Last year, Mayor of Novi Bob Gatt even came to Fox Run to give a repeat presentation of his “State of the City” address. Gatt had presented it two weeks earlier to government officials, and Jerry says Fox Run was the only other place where the mayor delivered the speech.

The political awareness committee also helps to educate residents about important ballot measures. A recent hot-button issue in Michigan was a proposed ballot measure to raise the gasoline tax. To help residents understand all of the implications of the ballot measure, the political awareness committee brought in Detroit Free Press columnist Brian Dickerson and a representative from the League of Women Voters, who both made objective presentations on the topic.

A speaker from the League of Women Voters also spoke at Fox Run about partisan redistricting in Michigan.

“Attendance is our best indicator of whether [residents] think it is valuable, and we fill the auditorium every time,” Jerry says.

While the political awareness committee tends to focus on state and local politics, Jerry says that after the Democratic and Republican conventions take place, the group may consider organizing some events around national issues. The presidential election will undoubtedly be a topic of lively conversation among the engaged retirees who live at Fox Run.

“As I think about neighborhoods I’ve lived in over my life, I would say this is an extremely active group of people that is interested in learning and that shows up in our Lifelong Learning program, where they have all kinds of presentations that focus on history and what is going on in the world,” Jerry says.

A local university professor frequently speaks on campus about national political issues as part of Fox Run’s Lifelong Learning program, and he will likely come to talk about the 2016 election.

“He is such a knowledgeable speaker,” Jerry says. “That is another one that is standing-room only.”