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BLADE GATES: Making the Most of an Election Year

MANISTEE, MICH. - In the off-chance you haven't heard, 2024 just so happens to be an election year for our nation. Surprise! For many, election years are a turbulent time: where one may feel nothing but excitement, another may feel anxiety. Where some are deeply involved in their local politics, others may be completely out of the loop. Whatever the election year means to you, I would encourage you to start thinking now about how you will choose to participate in this year's elections… and that it might not be as daunting as it seems.

"It’s a huge year for government!" said Shelli Johnson, Manistee County Clerk, "All of the positions are due for the Townships; along with the Prosecuting Attorney, Sheriff, County Offices, Drain Commissioner, Surveyor, County Commissioners for each District, Delegates, several millages… the ballot is really full!"

"We want every person who decides to vote to have the opportunity to vote," said Heather Pefley, City Clerk for the City of Manistee, "The time is now to think about how you want to vote: don't wait until the last minute!"

There are a few dates to remember before November's Election Day. Candidates running for office with the City of Manistee, any Villages, and School Boards need to turn in their Affidavits and Petitions by 4:00 PM on July 23, 2024. The early voting period for the August Election is from July 27 to August 4, and the early voting period for the September elections is from October 26 to November 3. 

Check your local municipality if you are unsure where your Early Voting precinct is located. Absentee Ballots can also be requested prior to the election. If you aren't registered to vote, you can register to vote in the precinct, same day. There are plenty of opportunities to take away the stress of the vote.

Finally, be sure to save the date for the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce's Candidate Forum on Thursday, September 12, 2024, a free public forum to learn more about your local level candidates. More details will come as the candidate lineup takes shape.

"With [so many] items on the ballot, it is really important that registered voters get out and vote," said Johnson. "Election Inspectors and the Clerks around the county have gone through a tremendous amount of training and preparation to make it as easy and user friendly as possible for voters to cast a ballot."

Looking for more information? The Michigan Voter Information Center website ( has a plethora of information about how you can vote and your voter information. Do you have a question for a local candidate? Reach out to them directly: ask them what it is that they are advocating for. Get your hands on a League of Women's Voters Guide when it releases. Looking to get even more involved? Start small, whether that's by volunteering, learning about a board or committee, or even just going to the websites for both the City of Manistee ( and the County Clerk (

Johnson and Pefley both encourage anyone with additional questions on voting to contact their local clerk or the County Clerk's office.

"This is an opportunity to have a voice, make a difference, and express what's important to you." said Pefley. "The moment you get involved, you take ownership. This is our city, and here is your chance to be part of its future."

I wish you the best this election year. Here at the Manistee Area Chamber, legislative advocacy is one of our big priorities, and we recognize how this work helps shape so much of Manistee County. The time is now to think about this year's elections, but do not let that unsettle you! Whether you are entrenched in the political world or choose to participate from afar, you are invited to explore the opportunities in front of you. Who knows? In the process, you just might find a way to involve yourself in the community.


Blade Gates is the Marketing & Communications Specialist for the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce, a non-profit 501 C (6) organization. Our mission is to build a dynamic and sustainable organization to serve the Business, Workforce, and Economic Development needs of all in Manistee County. You can contact Gates at 231-723-2575 or