Unfortunately, I did not get into the November election. I received 314 votes and I appreciate your support very much but I came in only 7th out of 8. I think this has several reasons: first, many people did not know me despite my frequent appearances at environmental and social events and their reporting in the Daily Telegram, my Environmental Documentary Series at Siena Heights University, my organizing of the Issa Endowment Speaker Series at Siena Heights University, my Letters To The Editor of the Daily Telegram, and my campaigning. I admit, I could have hit the pavement more and show up at social events - and attract followers with incentives like free ice cream - but that is not the sole reason of my shortcoming. Unfortunately, the environment is still not on top of many people's radar despite the urgency to deal with Climate Change, Biological and Chemical Pollution, and Habitat Destruction, which will make everybody's lives very challenging in the not so far future. A third reason for my insufficient performance is the fact that I was not born and raised in Lenawee County, not even in Michigan or the US and some people perceived me as an outsider from another country. I think that this should have been an advantage as I could have contributed a different and new perspective to Adrian's challenges and path into the future - but the majority of the 1706 voters seemed to have preferred more of the same old...
I am not sure if I will run for a political office again but I will definitely not stop being an environmental activist and educator.
My single most important motivation to run for City Commissioner is environmental sustainability. The environment is at the basis of our wellbeing, both in our individual quality of life as well as in our economic success. Therefore, I chose the slogan:
We cannot pollute and abuse the environment without serious repercussions. We cannot take out brick for brick from the foundation on which we live and operate and build our castle in the sky because a weak foundation will bring this Tower of Babel down.
Figure source: Dr. Michael T. Barbour, Center for Ecological Sciences, Tetra Tech, Inc.
You might be on board with these statements on a global scale but may ask what does this have to do with Adrian’s City Government? My answer is a lot. To stay with the metaphor of a building, the global building of humanity rests on the foundation of local gatherings of people, villages, cities, counties… Real safeguarding of humanity must begin on the local scale – even in times of poor tax revenue and poorly recovering economies. This might be your second reservation to follow my line of thought. How can we afford the luxury to care about the environment in these times? Here George Heartwell, the retired Mayor of Grand Rapids, who recently gave a talk in Adrian, made a perfect point: All of our efforts to turn things around and create a healthy and vibrant economy in Adrian must start with environmental sustainability – this is again the basis and foundation of our wellbeing – not a luxury. He did just this with a failing economy in Grand Rapids and turned things around – making Grand Rapids a booming and attractive city to live.
I know, Adrian is not Grand Rapids, but the same principle that worked in Grand Rapids applies to our city and Lenawee County. Instead of steering our region repeatedly on the same beaten tracks that proved to be wrong, we have to build a new trajectory that builds upon our region’s unique strengths: education and agriculture. However, we have to develop these strengths into environmentally sustainable and future-oriented ways. For example, in a world that is dramatically transformed and degraded by man-made climate change, there is no place for new fossil fuel infrastructure. In addition, energy produced by solar and wind is now much cheaper than fossil fuels. Our region is blessed with a good supply of both, wind, and sunshine – therefore fighting fossil fuel projects in our area and shifting our investments to innovative clean renewable technologies would make perfect sense. In addition, Adrian hosts three institutions of higher education that could become leaders in moving sleeping rural communities into the 21st century. We would live healthier, protect our natural heritage, and build a reputation as a leader in these fields.
Let’s look at the other traditional strength: our agriculture. Instead of producing healthy foods while stewarding our natural resources, our agriculture is dominated by industrial operations both in animal husbandry and crops. Giant Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) with several thousands of cows and hogs confined in buildings produce more manure per day than the City of Boston. The farmers fight to contain this amount of feces by spraying it on farmland or storing it in lagoons but almost every CAFO violated the acceptable limits of runoff set by the Michigan DEQ – many violated these limits even several times. This runoff pollutes our River Raisin with astronomically high levels of fecal coliform bacteria – and contributes to algal blooms in Lake Erie and some of our smaller inland lakes. I could not agree more that the River Raisin is a wonderful asset for our region but denying that industrial farming severely impacts it is dangerous negligence. It will take a little more effort than removing trash and cutting vegetation to cleanup this much more concerning pollution from our natural gem. A third huge problem with CAFO farms is their massive use of antibiotics, which allowed many pathogens to become resistant and rendered them useless for human medicine. – And frankly, treating animals the way they are treated in lifelong mass confinement is highly unethical!
On the crop side, we are surrounded by large scale corn and soybean operations that are based on genetically modified (GM) plants that are tolerant against Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, which is used in large quantities throughout our area. Roundup is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and recently by the State of California as a probable cancer-causing agent. Using such chemicals in big quantities all around our city and the county is not really a good idea. In addition, fighting weeds and pests with chemicals is only working for a short time because we are actually breeding weeds and pests to become resistant against these chemicals – and then we need new, possibly even more dangerous chemicals…
But – there is a solution for both agricultural problems and the solution would provide the farmers of our region better prices and allow them to be once more stewards of the land – it is environmentally sustainable organic agriculture. Again, we are located very well to supply cities with a high demand of organically produced food: Ann Arbor, Toledo, Detroit.
Every day-to day decision of our City Government has environmental impacts and can be guided through an “Environmental Sustainability First” approach. I would very much like to serve the City of Adrian to move towards environmental sustainability and direct our city towards a better future. Please spread the word and help my campaign! You can print the below campaign flyer double-sided and cut 3 flyers per one letter page. Thank you very much in advance!
Tom Wassmer Campaign Flyer
If you have questions or suggestions, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org