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Recent election shows reduction in city-suburban divisions

Other opinions

August 26, 2012
The Oakland Press

The results of the Aug. 7 elections were certainly gratifying for some individual candidates.

But they also indicated a larger and more important story is developing, involving the often racially tinged, city-suburban split that has dominated local politics across the region for close to half a century.

The approval of the Detroit Institute of Arts millage and the victory of Rep. Gary Peters in the Democratic primary in a district that was designed to cross the city and suburban lines indicate that some new attitudes are beginning to take root among residents on both sides of the old and troublesome divide.

Certainly, opponents of the millage and Peters' competitors for the Democratic nomination tried to use loaded language used in regional debates in the past, but they never seemed to have the same impact, which is a very positive development.

The millage, while winning narrowly in Macomb County, was approved by a wide margin in Oakland and Wayne counties, and Peters wound up coasting to victory in his primary contest despite some dire warnings by local pundits.

The DIA, a regional and national treasure, was provided with a new lease on life, and the residents of Peters' new district have gained a very capable and very forceful advocate.

The fact is the old divisions have blighted Detroit's image around the world and prevented the broader community from addressing common issues, such as transportation, water quality, education and recreation.

But the votes on Aug. 7 should mark a turning point in regional governance that will lead to better governance and broader solution for common problems.

Has the old division been erased? The answer is certainly not. But people living on both sides of the divide now appear more willing than ever to consider the things they have in common rather than focus almost exclusively on the things that separate them, which is certainly a big step in the right direction.

 
 

 

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