An informal meeting led by the Democratic candidate for the 8th Congressional District gave community members a chance to discuss prominent issues that affect everyone, regardless of political party.

Elissa Slotkin held her third “Common Ground” event at the Lil’ Chef restaurant in Brighton Wednesday. Around 15 women attended to engage in a conversation about shared priorities, with Slotkin seeking thoughts from all sides of the political “aisle” by inviting Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. Slotkin says she began hosting “Common Ground” events and directed this one toward women after being asked by numerous women how she would repair the negative tone and divide between parties. Slotkin tells WHMI she felt the best way to begin that process was to provide a safe and civil environment for people to talk about significant and sometimes controversial issues.

Slotkin says, “It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or an Independent, or a Republican. Everyone’s ideas are valid. And what we find over and over again when we do these events, is that when you talk about values and principals, people have a lot of common ground. Obviously when you talk about how to fix things, well, people have different views and that’s fine. We always had different views across the political aisle…I think people leave feeling positive that it is possible to have a civil, political conversation because they don’t see examples of that from Washington or from Lansing.”

Attendees at Wednesday’s event shared their thoughts on matters including mental health, national security, a lack of willingness to vote, and the cost of prescription medication. Kathy Simmermon, a teacher who lives in the City of Brighton, says she attended the event because she feels there is a noticeable divide in the United States when it comes to politics. Healthcare was one of the major issues that was discussed and Simmermon says it was nice to know that many people have similar feelings about the basic concept, regardless of the political party they lean toward.

Speaking of citizens in general terms Simmermon says, “We are tired of the in-fighting…and then talking about healthcare, making sure that healthcare is available…and there’s no easy fix to it, but having some options and keeping it available to everyone seems to be important to people.”

Slotkin says the goal of the “Common Ground” events is to learn what issues matter to voters and where Congress can find areas of agreement among them. (DK)