Archived Story

Jack Strayer: Staying on the job by staying off the ballot

Published 9:22pm Wednesday, November 30, 2011

When state Rep. Sharon Tyler was first elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 2008, I was the happiest guy in town because I had the honor to serve as her campaign chairman. She has done a terrific job as our State Rep and has proudly maintained her close ties to the 78th House District by conducting weekly office hours throughout the district that covers southern Berrien County and western and northern Cass County.

During her two terms in office, she has also quietly found shelter for the homeless, secured food for the hungry, job leads for the unemployed, and given hope to many by helping solve their individual problems with the State.  Not only is she a professional in economic development, but she also serves as a kind of a savvy social worker and compassionate caseworker for her constituents. She will need all those skills as she begins her next political chapter as a candidate for Berrien County clerk.  I can promise you that she will serve us all well in that capacity, too.

From 1980 until 1986, I worked as a communications director for the Michigan House of Representatives and I know what it takes to be an effective state representative. It takes a certain type of person to be an effective State Representative because they have to tolerate irritating constituents, bossy local officials, angry voters and opposing candidates. You need brains, patience, understanding, fortitude, a sense of humor, compassion, energy and a lot of nerve and a thick skin to become a candidate for the Michigan House of Representatives.

In 1884, in a telegram to U.S. Gen. John B. Henderson, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman rebuffed the Republican Party actively promoting his candidacy for president of the United States by issuing the original “Shermanesque” statement: “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.”

Shortly after Sharon Tyler issued her press release announcing her candidacy for Berrien County Clerk, it was brought to my attention by five different people in Berrien County that they thought I should run for Sharon Tyler’s seat.

Well folks, that ain’t happening! As I have mentioned many times in speeches I have given over the years to local service clubs and the Chamber of Commerce, I will not run for public office. And to paraphrase Gen. Sherman, I will not run if nominated and I will not serve if elected.

Some might think I am arrogant to even consider myself a candidate, but I decided that if five people approach me about running, I need to clear the air and confess that I do not possess all of the attributes needed to serve. See paragraph No. 3. I have a sense of humor and a lot of nerve, but I lack the skills to deal with irritating constituents, bossy local officials and angry voters.

In my current position as director of development and marketing for the proposed $17 million Expo Arena project at the Berrien County Youth Fair, I can better serve the people of Berrien County by finishing my job. Once completed and in operation, the Expo Arena will generate an additional $32 million in annual revenue within a 25-mile radius of Berrien Springs and will help create 500 news jobs within that region. Check out our website at and you will have a better understanding of why I am committed to enhancing local businesses, expanding the tax base and creating new jobs without using government funds. The Expo Arena represents philanthropy at its finest: replacing scarce government resources with privately raised charitable gifts for the betterment of our young people.

My sincerest apologies to any elected officials who resent being called “bossy.” I would not like to be called bossy, but then again, I am not running for office!

See paragraph No. 3.


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