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January 1, 2013

Area residents share hopes for 2013

Wish list is for political cooperation, better economy

TRAVERSE CITY — Charles Fiebing is tired of the squabbling.

Fiebing, who lives in Traverse City's Slabtown neighborhood, has had enough of partisan politics. This year, he hopes more politicians will work together for the common good instead of arguing along party lines.

"This stalemate we have going on right now has just got to stop," he said. "These two political parties have got to meet somewhere in the middle. Do something and quit arguing."

Local residents expressed various hopes for the new year, and an end to overcharged partisan politics topped the wish list for many. That's not likely to occur, most acknowledged, but progress needs to be made.

"It really seems like nothing is getting accomplished and nothing is getting solved," said Suttons Bay native Jon Kellogg. "There's very smart people involved with both sides. If we could just get rid of all of the labels and put people in place who aren't just worried about the political side of things, maybe we could move forward."

The impending "fiscal cliff" dominated headlines in recent weeks, reinforcing a negative image of partisan bickering.

"I think a lot of us are pretty unsure of what's going to happen with this whole fiscal cliff thing," city resident Selenia Kucera said Monday morning. "I'm hoping they can come up with a reasonable solution."

Plenty of other issues — the economy, gun rights, the environment — got plenty of attention this year.

Wendy Haas, of Traverse City, was troubled by the Sandy Hook school shooting. She doesn't have a solution on how to control gun violence, but she hopes people keep talking about that and other significant topics in the new year.

"Large or small, it's a matter of maintaining our passion about these issues," she said. "It's easy to fall back into our comfort zones and not affect change."

It's too often that major incidents spark the public's interest but are then forgotten, she said.

"It's very easy to let it go, and I think that happens every year," she said. "We need to find a solution, rather than be up in arms until something else catches our attention."

The sour economic climate continues to be a huge concern for many, especially after years of recession.

"I'd like to see the economy pick up, of course," said Barbara Fiebing, Charles' wife. "We've been pretty beat up financially."

City resident Scott Beckstead used to work in construction, and still has plenty of friends in the business. The economy has slowly improved, he said, and he hopes that continues — and accelerates — in 2013.

"You're starting to see signs; it's starting to pick up," he said. "Let's definitely keep that momentum and see what happens from there."

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