No Dems included: Brighton chamber says its Meet the Candidates event is for incumbents only

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While the Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce upcoming Power Luncheon: Meet the Candidates! event looks and sounds just like a candidate forum, it’s really not.

That’s according to Pam McConeghy, president of the Brighton chamber.

I got in touch with McConeghy after an email I received about the event left me scratching my head. The Economic Development Power Lunch: Meet the Candidates! event, hosted by the Brighton chamber and Ann Arbor SPARK, and sponsored by Consumers Energy and Grace & Porta Benefits, appears to be a candidate forum featuring only Republican candidates.

At first I thought the Democrats turned down their chance to participate and chose to not attend (which would’ve been a really, really bad decision on their part), but in reality, none were invited. And that was by design of the Brighton chamber.

“This is a luncheon for incumbents; we do it every year,” McConeghy said.

Ann Bollin, a candidate for the open 42nd District state House seat, who is running against Democrat Mona Shand, is included because “she is on our board of directors and had been,” McConeghy said. “She will just give her perspective on business and politics.”

Candidate John James, though billboarded, won’t be attending, McConeghy said; also on the agenda is a farewell to state Sen. Joe Hune, who is term-limited from running again.

The advertisement for the event, which will be moderated by Hune, says it’s an “excellent opportunity” to “meet these candidates and hear their opinions prior to (your) vote in November.”

That still sounds like a candidate event to me. And all “these candidates” are Republicans.

I don’t mind the Republicans getting together for lunch or brunch or whatever, just like I don’t mind the Democrats getting together, either. But I do mind advertising an event as a chance to “hear from the candidates” when it’s promoting one side only.

Before local Republicans get up in arms, think about it this way:

What if another big, powerful entity in Livingston County was throwing what it called a meet-the-candidates event, partnering with Ann Arbor SPARK (which handles economic development for Livingston County), and sponsored by Consumers Energy and Grace & Porta Benefits (both of which serve people of all political stripes) — and invited only the Democrats running, or just the incumbents, all of which are Democrats.

I’m betting the local GOP Facebook page would catch fire.

A candidates event should include all the candidates. If it’s not a meet-the-candidates event, don’t call it that. And if it’s a thank you lunch for incumbent officials, then bill it as such. These are things that don’t mix.

When it was suggested that the marketing of the event may be at fault, McConeghey said she’d take a look at it. “I will see how it is marketed,” she said, “and maybe make some changes.”

If you’re interested in hearing from ALL the candidates, you’ll want to be at the Oct. 18 Candidate’s Forum. It’s the best chance Livingston County voters have this year to hear from all the candidates before the vote.

McConeghy agrees, citing it as a reason why the Brighton chamber’s Republican-only event is no big deal.

“We are doing the Candidate Forum for all candidates in October,” she said. “The Power Lunch is not a debate.”

General Election Candidate Forum

Along with The Livingston Post and the Brighton chamber, the General Election Candidate Forum is also sponsored by WHMI-93.5 FM, Voter’s Voice, the League of Women Voters of Brighton/Howell, and the Hartland and Howell chambers. Jon King of WHMI-93.5 FM is the moderator.

This event is your single best chance to hear from all the candidates who want to represent Livingston County.

It begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, in the auditorium of the Hartland Educational Support Services Center at 9525 Highland Road (the old Hartland High School).

On hand for the evening will be:

• 8th Congressional District Candidates: Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop; Democrat Elissa Slotkin; and Libertarian Brian Ellison

• 22nd District State Senate: Democrat Adam Dreher, and Republican Lana Theis

• 42nd District State Representative Candidates: Republican Ann Bollin, and Democrat Mona M. Shand

• 47th District State House Candidates: Democrat Colleen Turk , and Republican Hank Vaupel

• 44th Circuit Court Judge Candidates: Dennis Brewer and Suzanne Geddis.

I hope to see you there.

If you’d like to submit questions for the General Election candidates, click here.


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About Maria Stuart 122 Articles
Journalist Maria Stuart lives in Howell. She worked at The Livingston County Press/Livingston County Daily Press & Argus as reporter, editor and managing editor from 1990-2009. She is often spotted holding court at Uptown Coffeehouse.


  1. After the garbage the Democratic Party has been up to and pulling lately I for one don’t want to even speak to them nor hear a word from them, so I’m ok with it only being republicans only event. Now if the democrats stop pushing socialism agendas and drop the once upon a time Nazi member George Soros from being a backer of the DNC then I’ll consider listening to what a democrat has to say…

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