Lapeer Great Start Parent Coalition learned that interviewing candidates isn't that hard after all

By Brenda Brissette Mata

LAPEER - Teresa Gormley never imagined she’d be sharing information and interviewing candidates for the state Senate or House of Representatives, let alone gubernatorial candidates.

But that’s just what she did this election season.

Gormley, parent liaison for the Lapeer County Great Start Parent Coalition, helped the small but growing group conduct candidate interviews in order to educate voters.

Marissa Zamudio, a technical assistant with the Early Childhood Investment Corporation, helped the group learn how to conduct mock interviews and research statistics.

The idea was to learn where the candidates stood as it pertained to early childhood and to pass along the information so that parents could make an informed choice at the polls.

“I did the research and learned about the candidates and when I felt like I had enough ammunition, I started making calls,” Gormley said.

Her first opportunity came back during the primary when Republican gubernatorial candidate Pete Hoekstra came to Lapeer to speak.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “But I was ready. I had materials to give him and questions to ask.”

She shared statistics about poverty and details from a survey that found one in three children in Michigan aren’t ready to succeed in kindergarten, emotionally, socially, intellectually or physically.

She also explained that the purpose of Great Start is to assure a coordinated system of community resources and supports to assist Michigan families in providing a great start for their children from birth to five.

“We just want every child in Michigan to have the chance for a great start,” she said.

About two weeks after she spoke with Hoekstra, she heard him talk briefly about early childhood.

“I was so excited,” she said. “It was a sentence or two. I guess it could have been a coincidence, but I like to think it was because he got my materials and got what I was saying.”
Gormley said it took her about 2 ½ weeks to complete all of the candidate interviews.

“I started to realize how much power we have as voters and I realized that most of the candidates are just people who care about this state. We have to tell them what we care about.”

She compiled a synopsis of what each candidate had to say and sent the information she compiled to parents in the Lapeer County GSPC database.

Gormley said she’s excited about the upcoming election and hopes she can get a lot of other people excited about the power that comes with voting.

“Next time there’s an election I would like to see all the parents get involved,” she said. “I felt like I was so much more informed as a voter. I shared what I learned with the coalition, with co-workers and just about everybody I met.”





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