Macomb GSPC interviews 50 candidates this election season

By Brenda Brissette Mata

MT. CLEMENS - Lisa Carter Bates is undaunted by the children vying for her attention in her home day care while she handles questions from an interviewer with ease and still manages to give her husband a sweet send-off as he leaves for work.

“You have to get right in there and get done what needs to be done,” Bates said. “I start off with a plan and a prayer when taking on tasks. It helps when you are surrounded by positive people with positive agendas.”

It was that can-do attitude that motivated Bates, the parent liaison for the Macomb County Great Start Parent Coalition, to see to it that more than 50 Macomb County candidates were interviewed about their views regarding early childhood this election season.

Bates worked hand in hand with Monica Bihar-Natze, the GSPC communications advocacy specialist, and a few parent coalition members, including Regina Hannah.

“It can be kind of intimidating to think about talking to senators and representatives and people running for those offices,” Bates said. “You want to make sure you articulate yourself and speak with professionalism and poise. You want people to realize we are serious about early childhood.”

The group gathered background information and statistics about brain development and early childhood, as well as background on the candidates.

Bates held trial runs to help the parents – Regina Hannah, Jennifer Crooks and Michelle Anderson - who volunteered to help conduct the interviews.

There were about 70 candidates in the Macomb County area and Bates was determined to get to as many as possible.

“I never did anything like it before, but I figure the candidates put their pants on one leg at a time, same as me,” Bates said.

Hannah shadowed Bates on a couple of the interviews until she felt comfortable enough to conduct her own. She said the experience changed her view about her voice, and her vote.

“At the beginning, I didn’t think my voice would really matter,” Hannah said. “But I take my vote a lot more seriously now. I often thought my vote didn’t count. But then I started learning more about it and I realized that’s a cop out. Every vote matters. You need to make an informed decision, not just say eeny-meeny-miney-moe.”

The candidate interviews and information were published in a newsletter and distributed to through the group’s e-mail database.

“We didn’t endorse any candidates, we just wanted to get the information to parents in the area,” Bates said.

“I told (candidates) there weren’t any right or wrong answers. We just wanted to know where they stood concerning early childhood development.”

For Hannah, the candidate interviews were not only a way to learn more about the candidates, but she learned plenty about herself.

“I’m so glad I did it,” Hannah said. “It taught me to open up. I’m usually pretty quiet, but I know how important this issue is. I know what it can mean to have people in places to make decisions about what happens with our children.”