Anyone who reads my column knows that, in general, I’m not a big fan of government.
But there are certain organizations and individuals at the local level that I sincerely believe do a good job and truly care about the community.
From time to time, I like to point them out.
This week, I’d like to highlight Addison Township Supervisor Bruce Pearson.
Pearson is a damn good supervisor and the residents are extremely fortunate to have him.
I know it’s a bit early to say this because his term isn’t up until 2020, but I really hope he chooses to run again.
I honestly can’t think of a single person at this point who could even come close to being an adequate successor for him. I can’t think of anyone who can match his passion, his energy, his genuine friendliness, his popularity, his connections, his integrity, and most importantly, his uncanny ability to always get the job done and save money.
In the nine years Pearson has been supervisor, he’s certainly turned Addison around. The community looks good and its government is well-run.
Under his leadership, many positive things have happened. The parks and roads have been improved. The historic 19th-century Arnold schoolhouse was preserved and restored. A modern, efficient and professional-looking township hall was constructed to replace the old, dilapidated, dark dungeon. Many township residents now have access to reliable natural gas. Power outages are no longer a common occurrence thanks to local efforts to convince DTE Energy to fix the problems.
Pearson didn’t do these things all by himself. He’s not a one-man show. He’d be the first one to tell you these were all team efforts, and they were. But he was always an integral part of the team, a driving force.
Pearson never shies away from a problem or a challenge. He dives right in. He figures out what needs to be done, who needs to be involved and what’s the best way to accomplish the mission.
One of the things I really like about Pearson is that he’s just a regular guy. He doesn’t put on airs. He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty.
He’d rather be on top of a tractor helping to clear some fallen trees off the Polly Ann Trail than looking at himself in the mirror, trying to decide which suit to wear to the office.
When I think of Pearson, I picture him helping to clean up the old mill in Leonard. I picture him as part of the volunteer work crew that helped create the new Addison library space in 2011.
During the grand opening for the library, I remember him telling the crowd about the “pioneer atmosphere in Addison Township.”
“We don’t ask everybody to come and do it for us. We do it with our own hands,” he said.
To me, Pearson has always exemplified that pioneer spirit – something that comes from doing, not just sitting behind a desk.
Pearson’s spirit is infectious because he definitely knows how to rally others to a cause and convince them to donate time, money, labor and materials. He’s a likeable guy and people want to do things for a likeable guy, especially when he’s asking not for himself, but for others.
I admire how much Pearson genuinely cares about senior citizens.
A lot of political-types simply view seniors as walking absentee ballots to be flattered and used for personal or party gain once every four years.
He does whatever he can to help seniors and enhance their quality of life.
He’s involved in Christmas in Action, a program through which volunteers complete free home repairs and improvements in order to allow low-income senior citizens to remain safe, warm and independent in their own homes.
Pearson serves on the North Oakland Transportation Authority (NOTA) board, which provides low-cost public transportation for senior citizens living in Addison, Oxford and Orion townships.
When the NOTA millage kept failing in Addison, it was Pearson who repeatedly went to bat for it and worked hard to finally get it passed.
“You always have to have somebody who speaks up for the weak and the old in this life, and it’s been that way since the beginning of time,” said Pearson in May 2015. “It’s too easy to forget about (the) seniors until you become a senior.”
Pearson has done such a good job, it’s gotten to the point where I can’t imagine anyone else as supervisor. He’s definitely made his mark on the township and will leave the community in much better shape than he found it. He’s going to be a tough act to follow and I hope that act lasts until at least 2024.
If he doesn’t seek re-election in 2020, I hope someone can be found who embodies the same community spirit and is a doer, someone who’s down-to-earth and close to the people like Pearson is.
The last thing Addison needs is someone who’s eager to climb the political ladder and hobnob with party weasels, someone who cares more about appearances and their agenda than the community.
In politics, even at the local level, those types are always lurking around, hungry for their next opportunity to advance themselves.
It’s always fun to deny them their prize.