Your Voice: Farmington candidate responds to contribution questions

To the editor:

I’ve run a campaign based on issues, not personalities. Farmington issues. Things that affect our city and our lives on a day-to- day basis. And I know people appreciate that.

Well, some of us do, at least. Recently, supporters of the incumbents have started raising hell over my campaign contributions. Here are their claims, debunked (and if it’s not as “juicy” as my opponents would like to make it seem, I apologize in advance):

“Half your campaign contributions are from outside Farmington!”

Those are my friends. That’s all! Like most of you, I’ve got friends across the Metro Detroit area and across the state. After I announced I was running, I started getting messages like “I’m so excited to hear you’re running! You go girl! I can’t vote for you, but I’d like to help. Who do I make out the check to?” And I was honored with their confidence.

“You took money from an out-of- state PAC!”

I did! I accepted $250 from LaunchProgress, a newly-formed group dedicated to giving a bit of cash assistance to younger candidates with a vision for progress in their communities — Democrats and Republicans alike. One of the people on their board is from Farmington Hills, and a friend who knew of it through him encouraged me to apply. By the way, here’s their endorsement memo: “Maria is a lifelong Farmington resident, and she’s working to preserve her town’s history while bringing its government into the 21st century.” (Side note: It’s not much funding. $250 doesn’t even get you a hundred yard signs. And it’s $250 out of about $6,000 I raised in total from more than 80 donors, the overwhelming majority being individuals like you.)

“Somebody with a political marketing firm donated $1,900!”

My good friend Adrienne Pickett from Plymouth is a professional designer in the advertising industry. She does marketing for companies like Verizon, Coca-Cola, and the Olympics. Her “company” that some seem fixated on, The Guerilla Politic, is a startup that she formed as a side hustle within the past few months. Adrienne donated her time to design my print materials that you’ve seen at your doors, in your mailboxes, and on lawns across town. I wrote the text and took the photos. She did the layout. The reason for $1,900? That’s what it would have cost to pay her for 17 hours of work at the standard rate charged by industry professionals. I reported that as an in-kind donation because she volunteered her time.

“You raised too much money. You don’t need all that.”

Really? I think it’s more telling that other candidates couldn’t raise that much or (in the case of the Mayor) had to throw in their own dollars to cover 100% of the costs. To be perfectly candid, I only planned on raising half as much as I did. Once I started knocking doors, the donations started rolling in. I’ve had multiple people write me checks at the door. I’ll never forget, as long as I live, having a $100 check written out to me on top of a big green recycling bin. It’s heartwarming that people believe in me and are eager to help out with their hard-earned dollars. Having the community behind me means everything.

That’s about it with the campaign finances. Then, we get to personal attacks on my lifestyle choices (oh joy!), like “you live in an apartment,” “you’re a young person,” and “you don’t have kids.” The incumbents’ supporters are touting these as reasons I can’t represent this city.

I’m going to skip those. By that rationale, you can’t judge a dog show unless you’re a dog. I do want to point out one thing, though: How hypocritical it is to push for new apartments downtown, intended to bring in millennials and single people without children, and then attempt to deny these people representation based on those very facts!

Truth is, I’m not concerned. I’ve knocked 2,500 doors and spoken with hundreds and hundreds of people across the city. Some have asked me where I live, and guess what: not one of them has slammed the door in my face for not having kids. Or for living in an apartment. (I’m not surprised: SEMCOG data shows that a third of Farmington residents are renters.) More than anything, the people who’ve spoken with me are interested in the issues I care about and my vision for the city. And they’re interested in the fact that a young person is willing to put herself out there, challenge the status quo, and bring some new ideas and new perspectives to the community we all love. (You can read up at my website, maria4farmington.com. My “issues” page is here.)

It’s just days to Election Day. I’ve laid out the facts about my finances, and you can read the Farmington Voice letters section and compare my words with what the “other side” is claiming.

I think you’ll find that their mudslinging is nothing more than a deliberate, last-ditch attempt at “fake news.”

We’ve all heard it before, and it’s true: When they can’t beat you on issues, they stoop to personal attacks.

Aside from writing this letter, I’m choosing to overlook them. I hope you do too!

I’ve staked my election on the belief that Farmington people cherish what makes this city unique. I’ve put in the legwork. I’ve laid out my ideas time and time again. I’ve looked people in the eye and I’ve asked for their trust. And because of that, I’m confident that when people head to the polls on November 7, the majority of votes will be determined not by an ugly rumor mill, but by the person-to- person connections that are the heart of the community we all cherish.

See you at the polls!

Maria Taylor
Candidate, Farmington City Council