Susan Grettenberger Finishes Strong in Race for Congress

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Susan Grettenberger surprised Michigan’s Democratic Party establishment with her strong showing in the August 5th primary for the 8th Congressional District seat in Congress.  She pulled in 11,398 votes (38%) falling just short of the 13,621 votes (41%) garnered by her opponent, Ingham County Treasurer Eric Schertzing. 

Two other candidates split the remainder of the vote.  Grettenberger made the race close despite her opponent raising more than twice her $60,000 campaign contributions.  Schertzing will face the Republican primary winner Mike Bishop in the November 5th general election.  The winner will replace retiring Republican Mike Rogers.

Grettenberger3“I decided to run for this seat because I believe our district deserved better representation than we were getting from Mike Rogers,” Susan said.  “He has consistently voted against the best interests of our district.  He’s voted against voting rights.  He’s voted against the minimum wage and he’s voted against women and the environment.  I waited for someone to step up and challenge him (Rogers) for his seat and no one thought they could win and were afraid to take him on.  After the government shutdown, put out a petition indicating that Rogers might be vulnerable.  I had thought about running before but was too busy with my work and my responsibilities as a parent.

“Then I thought that as a person of conscious, as a social worker, the only way to make a difference, to start this kind of change and take this guy on was to start speaking out against him.  I also knew that I could not even begin to do this unless I had some credibility—somebody had to believe that Rogers could be unseated.  After talking to people and finding no one willing to take on Rogers, I contacted and they facilitated my attending a training session in Washington, DC by Democracy for America that was very helpful.  That was in January.  I announced my candidacy in February and a few weeks later Rogers announced he was retiring.  Two other candidates then jumped into the Democratic primary.”

Before Rogers replaced social worker Debbie Stabenow in 2001, the 8th Congressional District had been represented by Democrats from 1974 to 2001 with the exception of one-term Republican Dick Chrysler who held the seat from 1995 to 1997.  Stabenow moved on to the U.S. Senate after two terms in the House.  It is really a Democratic-leaning swing state, voting for Bill Clinton twice, George Bush twice, Barack Obama in 2008 and Mit Romney in 2012.  Michigan is Romney’s home state.

Dr. Grettenberger, an associate professor and chair of the Social Work Department at Central Michigan University, admitted it was a pretty steep learning curve running for Congress having never run for elected office before.  However she was very pleased with her showing and attributed her strong finish to her ability to resonate with voters in the district with a message that focused on the economy, equality, education, the environment.  She credits her social work skills and experience in the classroom for her ability to speak convincingly to voters.  “I spoke about things that I really cared about, things that voters in the district really cared about,” she said.  She said it was also helpful being the daughter of a minister and regularly hearing her father’s stirring oratory.

For Susan, this is just the first step.  Like others, she wants social workers to be more politically active and she intends to be involved in politics in the future.  She believes that social workers must refocus on the profession’s commitment to the pursuit of social justice.  Having spent time at Hull House—Jane Addams’ workplace—and having raised four African American adoptive children, Susan knows first-hand the struggles of immigrants and people of color in America.  As a member of the LGBT community, she has had personal experiences with marginalization.

“My goal in this primary was to help move the country back in the right direction,” Susan stated.  “The country is moving in the direction of oligarchy and we need people of conscience and courage to step up and say this is wrong.  We need to figure out how to get our students and our profession to take a greater interest in the political process.  Many social workers feel they can’t be involved in politics because of the need to be nonpartisan.  They don’t realize they are being disenfranchised too.”

The post Susan Grettenberger Finishes Strong in Race for Congress appeared first on Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy.

Written By Charles E. Lewis Jr., Ph.D

Susan Grettenberger Finishes Strong in Race for Congress was originally published @ Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy » Charles Lewis and has been syndicated with permission.

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