Four Ways We’re Doing Politics Differently

 
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It’s a line I won’t soon forget. A woman I spoke with at her door said it to me a few weeks ago. 

We've been knocking on doors across Kitchener Centre for more than two months now, and as I've done before, I’ll share another major theme: the large number of people who feel left behind by our political system.

The statistics are staggering: in Kitchener Centre last federal election, 24,225 eligible voters didn’t vote at all. That’s one third of all those eligible. 

The past couple months of meeting people disillusioned with our democracy has put a face to a shared aspiration among Greens across the country: to do politics differently. And so in our campaign across Kitchener Centre, we've committed to do these four things:

1. Showing up

Mike with a Kitchener Centre resident during a recent canvass

Mike with a Kitchener Centre resident during a recent canvass

Not only have most people told us that we’re the first ones to knock on their door this election, I’ve been surprised by the number that didn’t expect me - the person actually seeking to represent them - to be at their door at all. Even worse is the number of people who have shared that we’re not just the first ones to show up this year, but the first ones to show up, ever. Wow. I’ve relished these conversations. What a gift to have a candid moment to connect with a neighbour one on one, and share that, yes: this is what our democracy is supposed to be about. I’m applying for a job, and that begins with showing up, listening, and aspiring to represent what I hear. Whether the person ends up supporting our campaign or not - or whether they even choose to vote at all - at least their democracy showed up at their door. And we had the opportunity for a moment of genuine conversation; moments I’ll cherish long after this campaign has finished.

2. Turning down the partisanship

Mike, Founder of Sustainable Waterloo Region at a local business event

Mike, Founder of Sustainable Waterloo Region at a local business event

So many people have shared how repulsed they are with the hyper-partisan nature of our democracy: from heckling politicians in the House of Commons, to nasty attack ads. None of this is serving us, and it’s even more troubling at such a pivotal moment, when the need for decisive action is so great. In place of the divisiveness of left vs right, I’ve been sharing with our neighbours my interest in finding common ground: not only across Kitchener Centre, but in Ottawa as well. So much of what we’re working towards, from better health care, to addressing housing affordability to climate action, doesn’t need to be partisan. I learned this over the past decade working in a non-partisan way, at both Sustainable Waterloo Region and Green Economy Canada. Why would this change now? While I’m proud to share values with Greens around the world, I’m also keen to work across party lines on the priorities that matter most to people in Kitchener, and across the country. Elizabeth May and Mike Schreiner have modelled what this kind of collaboration and openness can achieve, and I’m looking forward to learning from their approach to getting things done.

3. Putting people ahead of politics

Mike Morrice &  Mike Schreiner  at a local festival in Kitchener (July 6, 2019)

Mike Morrice & Mike Schreiner at a local festival in Kitchener (July 6, 2019)

When I chose to run with the Greens earlier this year, it was for two reasons. First, because I share the Green Party’s core values - like social justice and sustainability. Second, because they encourage Green Members of Parliament to vote with their constituents, even if that means disagreeing with the party. In other words, there is no party line to hide behind in the name of ‘being a team player’. Instead, MPs are accountable to their community first, above their party. This means I can actually listen to what people across Kitchener Centre think, and act on those local priorities. With Green values as a foundation, we can talk about the party’s position, and hear whether this matches with the interests of people in our community. 

4. Advocating for electoral reform

In the two months of listening to people at the door, and in small group conversations,, it has become clear that we must move toward a more representative democracy.  I’m proud that demanding democratic renewal is part of the vision being advanced by the Green Party of Canada, and I fully expect it will also be one of the top priorities we share back from our campaign. We’ve heard it loud and clear: people across Kitchener are looking for a system that makes every vote count. 

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By showing up, by being less partisan, by putting people ahead of politics, and by advocating for electoral reform, my hope is not only to earn our neighbours’ trust in support of our campaign, but that together, we can start rebuilding trust in our democracy, one conversation at a time.

- Mike

 

Canada risks falling behind in low-carbon economy

 

Global investors are already mobilizing capital to take advantage of investment opportunities in climate-smart infrastructure, emissions-reducing technology and updated electricity grids

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This article, written by Sean Cleary, and Ryan Riordan, originally appeared on The Conversation and is republished here with permission:

Earlier this spring, the most in-depth analysis to date on Canada’s changing climate provided clear evidence that Canada is warming twice as fast as the global average. As we increasingly experience the physical impacts (flooding, extreme weather, forest fires), we will experience the financial impacts as well in the form of both increasing market risks and unprecedented investment opportunities.

For the financial sector, this is a pivotal moment where it can realign its structures to ensure global capital flows toward solutions that will protect Canada’s economy and our prosperity, more broadly. However, Canada’s financial community has yet to fully grasp the numerous challenges and opportunities that climate change presents for us in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

On June 14, an independent panel of experts released recommendations on what Canada’s financial system needs to do to support this transition. The key message: we must empower our financial sector to design a made-in-Canada sustainable finance system so that Canadian firms can compete successfully among their global peers over the long term.

In its simplest definition, sustainable finance means aligning all of our financial systems and services to promote long-term environmental sustainability and economic prosperity. That includes channelling investments toward climate solutions and managing climate-related financial risks.

Canada has the talent, resources and institutional muscle to define sustainable finance for our economy. We need to grow and harness that capacity now, if we want to captain our own ship through one of the most significant global economic transitions in history.

Climate change is expected to trigger global financial losses in the trillions, but there are also opportunities for investment.

Climate change is expected to trigger global financial losses in the trillions, but there are also opportunities for investment.

Much to lose, but more to gain

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, a 2C global warming scenario will trigger global financial losses of roughly US$4.2 trillion. With 6C of warming, those losses balloon to $13.8 trillion. That represents about 10 per cent of the global assets currently under management.

Losses at this scale will have wide-reaching implications for investors and the asset-management industry. Everyday people who are depending on investment income for their retirement will find themselves in dire straits. That includes every Canadian counting on the Canada Pension Plan.

On the flip side, there is tremendous value — some $26 trillion worth — to be gained by shifting economies to avoid worst-case climate scenarios. This represents massive and economy-wide investments in climate-smart infrastructureemissions-reducing technologyupdated electricity grids, to name just a few examples. Global investors are already mobilizing capital to take advantage of these opportunities.

The question for Canada is: how do we attract global investment while, at the same time, protecting Canadian assets, investors and firms from risk?

In essence, this is what sustainable finance is about — harnessing our financial systems to help accelerate the activities, decisions and structures that will put Canadian industries and our economy ahead of the curve without ignoring the environment.

We can’t afford to fall behind

Other global players are already acting. The European Commission has spent the past two years mobilizing expertise to build a financial system that supports sustainable growth. It has made significant progress in establishing disclosure rules for climate-related financial risk and creating unified definitions (a taxonomy) on what can be considered environmentally sustainable economic activity.

For example, this includes defining the labels and criteria for green financial products, which will, among other things, significantly shape the direction of the rapidly expanding green bond market.

The problem is these rules and definitions are being pioneered elsewhere and are unlikely to benefit Canada. They may even penalize us, because they are designed for economies significantly different from our own.

For example, there is a current gap, and huge opportunity, to pioneer financial mechanisms and incentives could be created to expedite the sustainable transition of higher-emitting sectors like oil and gas and agriculture.

This requires our leadership.

If we allow others to direct the innovations in sustainable finance, we will find ourselves without the financial tools and structures that Canada’s resource-rich economy needs to determine its own path through a global transition.

The expert panel’s report is our wake-up call. It is time to catch up and get ourselves to the table. Our financial sector — and the broader ecosystem including our accountants, lawyers and actuaries — needs to start answering some big questions.

What does meaningful, responsible and consistent disclosure look like in a Canadian context? How do we create incentives and opportunities to draw in private capital to boost clean tech innovation across our economy and to invest in climate-resilient infrastructure? How do we better assess risk and the value of assets through a climate-smart lens?

We must, and we can, build the knowledge, understanding and capacity of our financial system to rise to these challenges. We can do this by investing in the research, education, professional training and the collaboration necessary to lift our current generation of professionals to the next level, while preparing an emerging generation to lead.

For those of us in the financial sector, this is about the future of our industry. For all Canadians, it’s about the future of our economy and well-being. Let’s get started now.

Sean Cleary, BMO Professor of Finance, CFA, ICD.D, Queen's University, Ontario and Ryan Riordan, Associate Professor & Distinguished Professor of Finance, Queen's University, Ontario

This article is republished from The Conversation under the Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

 

One Door at a Time

 
Mike speaking with a Kitchener homeowner

Mike speaking with a Kitchener homeowner

It’s been just over a month now that our team has been knocking on doors across Kitchener Centre, talking with our neighbours about their priorities heading into this year’s federal election.

We’re hearing from people every day about the concerns at the forefronts of their minds: from health care to affordable housing to the costs of failing to act decisively on the climate crisis.

Far and away however, the most common conversation we’re having at the door is people telling us they want to vote Green, but they just aren’t sure we can win. They don’t want to ‘waste their vote’, and they’re curious why we think we have a shot in this election.

Each time I hear this, I feel so grateful for this honesty. Because it gives us a chance to share just how different this election is going to be, and why we feel so strongly: that, yes, this is our moment.

First, there is what’s happening across the country and across the world: Greens are winning. From the European Parliament last week, to Paul Manly’s by-election win in Nanaimo last month, to Greens forming the Official Opposition in PEI, to Mike Schreiner’s win in Guelph last year. We are seeing that it’s possible: we can collectively vote for what we’re for, rather than the fear of what we’re against. And we can win.

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Second, there’s what Canadians are saying across the country: Greens are now polling at 12% across Canada, almost 45% of Canadians would consider voting Green (and truthfully, based on what we’re hearing at the door, this number seems even higher), and Elizabeth May continues to be the most popular and ethical party leader.

Third, there’s what is happening across Kitchener Centre as we step in to this moment. We continue to see the onus being on us, together, to demonstrate that we can build a campaign worthy of our neighbours’ support. To date, this includes:

  • Doubling the membership of the local party back in February, and the nomination meeting hitting fire code before it even began

  • More than 200 people asking to be part of our campaign team to date

  • More than 500 people attending our campaign launch party, with Elizabeth May and Mike Schreiner, on May 16

  • This column in the Waterloo Region Record in advance of our launch party, and this one immediately after

  • Raising more than $23,000 in 10 minutes at the campaign launch party, putting us on track to have a fully funded campaign before the writ drops

In short, this is about being ready with the message, organizing ability and resources to be able to engage our neighbours across Kitchener Centre, at such a pivotal moment. At a time when the status quo isn’t working.

The team of volunteers on a weekend canvass in May

The team of volunteers on a weekend canvass in May

Increasingly, people at the door have already heard of our campaign from a friend, on social media, or in the local media.

We often talk about active hope, as more people choose to be part of this momentum with us: every lawn sign requested, every new canvasser that signs on, and every new donation gives us the drive to continue on to the next block, to knock on the next door.

One at a time, as more people choose this ‘active hope’, we move that much closer to bringing to Ottawa ideas that match the scale of the challenges we face.

And while these conversations may only be a few minutes long, we promise to continue to show our neighbours just how hard we are willing to work for their support: we intend on knocking on their door again before election day.

So while canvassing isn’t the only way we’ll be engaging across our riding, it certainly is one I’m grateful we are focusing on. One door at a time.

-Mike

 
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#Morrice2019 Kitchen Table Conversations

 

Listening, Learning and Finding Common Ground

Byron & Ann hosting a Kitchen Table Conversation

Byron & Ann hosting a Kitchen Table Conversation

For me, one of the highlights of our campaign so far has been what we’ve been calling “kitchen table conversations”. Though the name is somewhat misleading.

Last Tuesday night for example, Kitchener residents Byron & Ann hosted more than 25 friends, family and neighbours for a conversation about our campaign in their beautiful home in Central Frederick. In this case, it was over dinner in their living room.

While always hosted in someone’s home, both the size and format have been varied: from 4 - 40 people, either on a back porch or over pizza, with brunch, or over tea and brownies.

And each time, we’ve had candid conversations. I’ve had the opportunity to hear priorities from people across our community, and also to share about our campaign. Topics have run the gamut, from why I’m running at all, to why I chose to run with the Green Party, to how we expect to build a winnable campaign - along with a wide mix of policy questions, from criminal justice reform to health care to Indigenous reconciliation.

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The beauty of it for me? Rather than being limited to a couple minutes at someone’s front door, these conversations are usually a couple of hours among friends and neighbours. Getting together in small groups means we can have more in-depth conversations about what is meaningful to those in the room. Often, they even feel magical, as we move closer to the best of what democracy can be about: listening to each other, learning from each other, and finding common ground.

For anyone living in Kitchener Centre interested in hosting a kitchen table conversation, please let us know here: Morrice2019.ca/join.

We’ve had about a dozen of these already, and are planning at least 15 more in June alone: these are one part of how we continue to engage more and more widely across our riding, and how we intend on building the momentum needed for a winning campaign.

-Mike

 

This is Our Moment

 

Reflections on the #Morrice2019 campaign launch party

Last Thursday night was definitely a special evening: to have over 500 people join me, Elizabeth May, Mike Schreiner, and our whole team as we celebrated the launch of this campaign was poignant and inspiring.

Photo credit: Dave Klassen

Photo credit: Dave Klassen

It reminded me of another special night: the very first event Sustainable Waterloo Region ever hosted. It was just over ten years ago, in January 2009. After months of talking with people across our community about our dream of businesses becoming part of a local network for climate action, we brought people together for the first time. 200 people showed up in a blizzard.

Sustainable Waterloo Region inaugural Education Breakfast, January 2009

Sustainable Waterloo Region inaugural Education Breakfast, January 2009

And then, like now, the real success of the event wasn’t just in the turnout, but in the magnitude of the response from our community afterwards.

Green Economy Hubs (missing: London ON, launched in May 2019)  Source: Green Economy Canada’s 2017/18 Annual Report

Green Economy Hubs (missing: London ON, launched in May 2019)
Source: Green Economy Canada’s 2017/18 Annual Report

In the case of Sustainable Waterloo Region, that first event was the catalyst for all the ways our community came together to launch the first-ever Green Economy Hub a few months later. In the days and weeks that followed, the organization received its first coverage in The Record, corporate sponsors confirmed their support, we raised $200,000 in the midst of a recession, and business leaders gave us input on the rules for how businesses would later set their carbon targets. The organization would go on to work with dozens of companies that employed 14% of Waterloo Region’s workforce within just five years, and the approach has been replicated in six other communities in the years since.

Fast forward to last week. While I’m elated by what happened on Thursday night, this once again not only because of who showed up, but because of how enthusiastically people responded.

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On Thursday, I shared with attendees that it’s time we be honest with ourselves. That despite the progress we’ve made over the past ten years, we need to listen to what scientists, Indigenous leaders, young people and economists are urgently telling us: we are living in a pivotal moment, and the status quo is insufficient. Almost half of Canadians are on the financial brink (BNN Bloomberg). Home ownership is out of reach for most in Kitchener, and we are living through a climate emergency of our own making. The cost of this crisis is projected to soar to anywhere from $21 - $91B per year by 2050 (National Roundtable on the Environment & the Economy) and we must cut our carbon in half in less than 12 years, if we are to sustain human life on this planet (IPCC).

In light of this, I said that we can be better. We can dream bigger. We can rise to meet the scale of the challenges we face.

As a community, we can bring to Ottawa ideas that reflect the time we’re living in: for example, an economic mobilization at the scale of a Green New Deal for Canada, which could include a shift to 100% renewables, high speed rail, universal access to affordable and energy efficient housing, and a guaranteed liveable income, in place of billions in fossil fuel subsidies and lost corporate tax revenue.

And I shared my offer to residents across Kitchener Centre: that we can choose hope over fear. That, together, we can build a campaign worthy of our neighbours’ support.

I closed by offering attendees this choice:

  • They could either wait until August, September, even October, and decide for themselves at that point whether we had built enough momentum to earn their support.

  • Or they could choose to be part of it now, with us, and contribute to the momentum we’re building together. I called this ‘active hope’.

The response? It was incredible. Minutes later, 32 people committed a combined $23,400 to our campaign, moving us to over 70% of our fundraising goal for fully engaging with residents across the riding over the coming months. 14 people offered to host informal kitchen conversations in their homes, 16 more offered to be part of the campaign team and 39 asked for lawn signs.

Photo credit: Dave Klassen

Photo credit: Dave Klassen

And that was just on the first night of the campaign. In the days that have followed, even more have come forward and offered to be part of our campaign.

All of them actively choosing hope over fear.

All of this which affirms for me: this really is our moment.

That across Kitchener Centre, we are ready to dream bigger. Just like we were ten years ago when so many rallied together to start Sustainable Waterloo Region.

Today, so many are ready to stand together again, to ensure we leave our kids a generational gift, instead of a generational debt.

And because of this, every day, we move closer to building a winning campaign in Kitchener Centre, and bringing big ideas to Ottawa.

152 days to go. Together I know we can do this.

Mike

 

What happens when we dream bigger

In late April, Sustainable Waterloo Region hosted their 10th annual Evening of Recognition, and they couldn’t have picked a more fitting location than evolv1: Canada’s first net positive carbon multi-tenant building.

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It’s a building that was first discussed almost ten years ago, just down the road at the Accelerator Centre. I was in the thick of a brainstorm with about a dozen SWR team members. As a team, we had just come out of a year-long journey starting the organization, in the midst of the 2008 economic recession - showing that businesses were ready to show leadership in the midst of the climate crisis. That they could save money, reduce their carbon footprint and grow the clean economy at the same time.

That night, we decided it was time to be bold, and together we began dreaming bigger about the impact we could have. On the list of ideas?  The aspiration that we could build a space for the clean economy to thrive in, embodying the future we were all aspiring for - right here in Waterloo Region.

On my way in to the Evening of Recognition a couple weeks back, an old friend stopped me, looked at evolv1, and asked, “Mike, how does this feel?”

I told him that it felt wonderfully familiar: evolv1 had only moved from idea to reality because so many people across Waterloo Region – from both the private and public sector – were willing to join us in dreaming bigger. A way of thinking that is baked into the DNA of this community.

The results are incredible. The building, with 2,000+ solar panels and an innovative geothermal well system, generates more energy than it uses. It has a living wall made up of 4,500 plants that provide clean air for occupants. And it provides a healthy, collaborative space for the people that go to work there every day.

All of which started with our community being willing to dream bigger.

As we set out on this campaign now, I’m reminded of the evolv1 journey, and how we’re dreaming bigger again.

It starts with the premise of our campaign: that if we are going to meet the scale of the economic and climate crises we face, we need to dream bigger about the solutions. We need to consider bold ideas like a made-in-Canada Green New Deal, and bring together unlikely allies as we raise our collective ambition.

We’re also dreaming bigger about how together, we can create our own political reality. I’m not shy to point out that in the 2015 election, the Green Party in Kitchener Centre only received 3% of the popular vote. While this time around, we’ve made clear we’re building a campaign that can win, and we’ve scaled our efforts and resources accordingly. In response, I’m hearing from more and more people who are saying that yes: this is our moment. That this time around, they intend to vote for what they are for, rather than the fear of what they’re against. At a time, and in a riding, where we can win.

So, as we set out on this ambitious journey together, it all does feel very familiar.

This Thursday, we’ll come together again to dream bigger. Though this time, it won’t be a dozen people squatting in a small meeting room. This time it’ll be hundreds of us. My friends Elizabeth May and Mike Schreiner will be there - friends who also know what it’s like to dream bigger, and what’s possible when we do.

I hope you’ll consider joining us. Everyone is welcome and registration is online here. Because once again, I feel that together, we’re at the outset of something special. Something that could in turn inspire others across the country. That time when a community stood up and said: we can be better. We can dream bigger. And we can do it together.

Mike

A New Reality Is Possible

As many of you may have already heard, something special happened on Vancouver Island Monday night.

Paul Manly ran a campaign focused on bringing people together from all political stripes. On ensuring our kids inherit a clean, healthy environment. On building the green economy.

And he won.

Manly celebrates with his family after results come in for the Nanaimo-Ladysmith by-election in Nanaimo, B.C., on Monday, May 6, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)

Manly celebrates with his family after results come in for the Nanaimo-Ladysmith by-election in Nanaimo, B.C., on Monday, May 6, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)

Just as Mike Schreiner did in Guelph last year, and as 8 Green MLAs did on Prince Edward Island last month.

For me, and our campaign, this reinforces our conviction: we are in a pivotal moment, and people in Kitchener Centre, and across the country, are looking for change.

Mike Morrice, speaking with Kitchener Centre residents this past week.

Mike Morrice, speaking with Kitchener Centre residents this past week.

Last weekend, it came up while we were knocking on doors: that integrity, honesty and thinking longer term are so important to our neighbours.

This continues to be our opportunity to truly do politics differently: to bring people together, rather than divide. To prioritize the next generation ahead of the next political cycle. To dream bigger about the solutions to our most pressing challenges: for example, by talking about a Green New Deal for Canada.

Now, it’s our job, to show that in Kitchener Centre, we can build a winning Green campaign. At a time when our neighbours, and voters across the country, are clear: they’re ready for a campaign like this.

If you’d like to be part of it, there’s no better time than now. Elizabeth May and Mike Schreiner will both be at Catalyst-137 for our campaign launch party next Thursday May 16, and everyone is welcome.

Registration is online here

I hope to see you on May 16 as we kick off this historic campaign.

And my thanks to Paul Manly, the many volunteers that were part of his campaign, and for people across Nanaimo-Ladysmith - for showing us what is possible, and for coming together around what matters most: acting decisively to secure a bright future for generations to come.

The time is now

Here. We. Go.

Last Wednesday night, more people came out than ever before for a Green Party nomination meeting in Waterloo Region. The venue reached capacity before the event even began.

It was a momentous night. If you were there, I’m sure you felt it too.

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Green Party members in Kitchener-Centre voted to support a campaign about raising our ambition to meet the scale of the challenges we face.

A campaign committed to meeting those challenges in a way that strengthens our economic security, restores our ecosystems, and truly improves the well-being of Kitchener-Centre residents, and all people in Canada.

A campaign we intend on winning. A campaign where the Green vote will be the strategic vote.

For more on the night, check out some of the early media coverage:

This is now our campaign.

A big thanks goes to an incredible group of people that have already put their time into our campaign to-date: Jennie, two Sarahs, Sean, Jeff, Sara, Steve, Emma, Richard, Emily, Kathy, Puninda, Amanda, Claire, Greg, Katie, Aaron, Christal, Ryan and Rosalind.

Many more of you have offered to contribute and asked when would be the right time to do so.

The time is now.

There are three contributions that are most needed, right now:

1. Stay connected: If you’d like to continue receiving updates on our campaign, today there are three ways we are communicating most often. You can do any or all of the following:

2. Join the team: We are now focused on building the core team that will lead this campaign, changing the conversation in Parliament by being among the ridings in Ontario that will elect a Green MP for the first time ever.

  • I’m keen to speak with anyone interested in being part of this core team, wherever you may live.

  • I’m looking to have 10-20 people contributing 10-20hrs/week each, leading all aspects of the campaign: from social media to technology to event planning.

  • Please email me if you’re interested (mike@morrice2019.ca). I’d be glad to find a time to chat in the coming days.

3. Donate: I announced a goal on Wednesday that is as ambitious and achievable as our campaign: to have $100,000 raised in less than two weeks, by Thursday March 21. We have already raised 11% of our goal over the past few days.

  • If just 250 people contribute $400 (of which $300 is tax refundable) over the next 7 days, we would be fully funded, right from the beginning – a game-changing level of support.

  • Donations can be made online here.

  • Donations of up to $1600 are allowed by law, while contributions of any amount are welcome, needed and appreciated!

Last, please know that if these options don’t fit for you right now, don’t worry.

Those that follow on Facebook, Twitter or join our mailing list will hear from me in the coming weeks and months as other ways to support emerge – from door knocking to videography to research. If there’s a particular way you’d like to be involved down the road, please let me know.

Thank you, again, for your support and encouragement to date. It’s gotten us to this point and I know that, together, it will bring us to a historic night in October.

With gratitude and excitement,

Mike