Discussion board: Traverse Metropolis, we can do better | Opinion
By Jim Carruthers
The media attention our community has received lately is unfortunate and can potentially harm our growing and diverse economy in the north.
Northern Michigan has long been a politically diverse and independent community. Our residents have strong values for their personal rights and protection. We have long been a region that attracts and welcomes people from all over the world. They come here to relax in our abundant natural resources and soak up the welcoming small-town character that Traverse City still offers. Over time, this community has become more respectful of political and social diversity.
Political differences and party politics were largely respectful in the north. Often times, our leaders respectfully “agree not to disagree” so that they can move forward without incident. That doesn’t mean our systems are perfect, but it does suggest that politics can be respectful. No one should feel intimidated or uncomfortable, especially when giving respectful public comments to elected leaders.
Most agree that gun ownership is protected by our constitution. In rural areas like Traverse City, where hunting is part of our economic diversity, residents understand that guns are a part of life here. That said, guns have a place there, but they shouldn’t be displayed in a way that intimidates residents, especially during a public meeting.
Nobody denies those who have the right to bear arms. They are only suggesting that in conducting public business there is no need to intimidate or show aggression by grasping a person because of political differences or opinions.
Traverse City is a diverse and welcoming place based on a robust tourism economy. We are also working to expand our economic base by attracting a younger tech-savvy workforce. The recent actions of some of our local political leaders do not create the impression that we are a stable or diverse community looking to expand their base. It only intimidates and scares people off. We are Traverse City and we can do better.
In these challenging times, we must work together as a community to show others that we are a safe and responsible place not to further harm our economic growth. We must rise above rhetoric and respect our differences, and we must not intimidate anyone.
As Mayor, I apologize for the missteps of some of our political leaders in the region. I have heard from many key opinion leaders in the field and most share my concerns. I continue to greet and support all of the people who live and travel in Traverse City without intimidation. As an international city of peace, we welcome everyone.
About the author: Jim Carruthers is the Mayor of Traverse City.