July 29, 2014 at 1:00 am

They vote early, and often

Fox Run retirees' election turnout attracts praise - and politicians

The hair was white and the eyes were attentive this month when the Fox Run retirement community held a candidate forum in Novi. Voter turnout there is the best in Oakland County. (Jack Beggs)

Even when you’re old enough to live in a retirement community, it turns out, there’s peer pressure.

At least at Fox Run, nobody is leaning on you to skip school.

The pressure there is to vote.

Fox Run held a candidate forum on its Novi campus this month, and in the frenzied last few weeks before next Tuesday’s primary, most of the candidates for the U.S. House seat in the 11th Congressional District found time to make an appearance.

Kerry Bentivolio, the somewhat hard-to-pin-down incumbent, sent a video. Dave Trott, also on the Republican side, is a big enough shooter that he has donated more than $800,000 to his campaign, and he showed up.

For the Democrats, Nancy Skinner, Bobby McKenzie and Anil Kumar made their cases.

All of this at a senior living center with 1,035 residents — a whomping 919 of whom are registered to vote.

“You look at 919 votes sitting out there,” says Geri Angel, who chairs the resident-run Political Awareness Committee, “it’s very attractive.”

Advertisers might not care about older people, but politicians know better. And so does Novi city clerk Maryanne Cornelius.

Fox Run has so many voters that it’s a precinct unto itself. Designated as voting site No. 10 on the rolls of Cornelius’ office, it was No. 1 in voter turnout in Oakland County for the election of November 2012.

Eighty-seven percent of registered voters cast ballots, compared to 57.5 percent nationally. For the primary that year, Cornelius says, when the average turnout was 25 percent, Fox Run rang up a 64.

“We were almost worried we were going to run out of ballots,” she says. “It was a great problem to have.”

Angel, 70, says her late husband was more politically inclined than she was before she moved to Fox Run two years ago. A former district manager for a chain of child care centers, she heads a nine-member committee that pounds the drums for politics and produces a monthly column for the in-house newspaper.

The residents take it from there, she says. Maybe it’s the time on their hands, maybe it’s a sense of history and duty.

Dinnertime in the Fox Run restaurant frequently comes with political discussions — the electorate tilts right, by about 60 percent — and pointed reminders.

“You hear, ‘Don’t forget. Got to vote. Tomorrow’s the day,’ ” Angel says.

Both of Michigan’s senators have campaigned at Fox Run. Gov. Rick Snyder has been there twice. Angel is hoping to lure him back for a debate with Democrat Mark Schauer.

As moderator, she’ll make sure it stays civil. The forum a few weeks ago got a bit heated, she says, and she had to rein a few of the candidates in.

She’ll know in a week how that played with the voters — all 919 of them, or darned close to it.

Good taste, good cause: pie for the Freedom Center

The cause is noble, which makes it all the easier to walk into the Grand Traverse Pie Co. this week. But I have to admit:

When the payoff is pie, I’d support the Society to Say Mean Things About Puppies.

And for that matter, kittens.

What we have, through Saturday, is a fundraiser for the Freedom Center at Metro Airport — the USO-style hospitality lounge for armed services members, their families, cadets and veterans.

Two Grand Traverse Pie locations, at 1446 W. Maple in Troy and 41640 Ann Arbor in Plymouth, are kicking in 10 percent of the week’s proceeds to the center.

And they’re giving away free pie. Excellent pie, at that.

In Troy, says employee Frank Doria, every customer gets a free slice of a designated pie of the day. “We just assume they’ll also buy something or make a donation to help the Freedom Center.”

In Plymouth, says manager Josh Evans, service members and veterans get a free slice of their choosing, and everyone else gets a free slice with the purchase of an entree.

Jessica Caizza, who owns the Troy location, began what she calls her Week of Giving when she bought the restaurant three years ago. She is glad to be able to help.

Me, I’m glad she bought a Grand Traverse Pie franchise, and not a House of Cauliflower.

nrubin@detroitnews.com
(313) 222-1874
@nealrubin_dn

Moderator Geri Angel chairs Fox Run's Political Awareness Committee.