BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Grassroots efforts are going on all around Benton Harbor to educate people about the importance of this year’s vote. Voters will decide on a mayor, new commissioners and changes to the way government is run in the city. Charter changes would eliminate four of the nine city commissioners and put a hired city manager in charge of all city departments.
“We actually have a chance to make history, so I’m pretty excited,” says 23-year-old Trenton Bowens. He is the youngest candidate running for office in Benton Harbor.
Bowens doesn’t have money for a big campaign so he’s going door-to-door to get his voice heard. “I’m doing grassroots, door-to-door (canvassing). I’m putting fliers in doors, I’m reaching out on Facebook and everything,” he says.
Bowens is seeking a spot on the commission but other grassroots groups in town want people to know what they’re voting for.
"We were just a group of women that said 'let’s do this,'” says Juanita Henry with Strong Women of Benton Harbor. The group has been holding forums for people to ask questions of candidates and the charter changes on the ballot. “It’s not anything official it’s just grassroots people that live here in the community that want to help,” she says.
Henry says this year is different. People need to voice their opinion about the future of government in Benton Harbor. “Look this is personal. It’s in your backyard (and) your front yard. Yes, I see a big interest in what is going on,” she says.
Bowens hopes people are involved and want to see the type of change he is promising. “The residents have felt invisible," he says. "I think if we get this ball rolling (there) can be a change.”