All of us experience the realization that the hands of the clock spin at greater velocity every year. The fade of winter is briefly replaced by budding tulips before the fireworks for the Fourth of July light up the summer sky. I truly love college football and can’t yet imagine that we are in the ninth week of the season and that the K-Wings will soon drop the puck again to launch their 2022-2023 quest for a championship. The number of times I say to myself, “Where does the time go?” increases every year.

In 2023 at Greenleaf Trust, we will celebrate our 25th anniversary! An entrepreneurial idea that began with seven people on South Street now includes 175 team members in six cities in Michigan and one city in the state of Delaware. Depending upon how the market closes on any one particular day, we are now responsible for managing the wealth and fiduciary management needs of 1200 clients and nearly 23,000 participants in employer-sponsored retirement plans totaling around $15 billion. Sarah Johansson, our Senior Vice President and Director of Marketing, has some special plans for a 25th anniversary celebration. More to follow later on those plans.

Essential to the perpetuity needs of sustaining great business and workplace cultures is the need for succession planning that embraces our current and future leaders as well as our board of directors. As a Michigan and Delaware chartered bank, we function in a highly regulated environment and are required to achieve fiduciary standards of the highest order as specified by state and federal laws. To achieve the expected level of performance, we have assembled a wonderful board of directors who practice fiduciary governance and business guidance at a world-class level, and we remain grateful to them for their governance, advocacy, dedication and collective wisdom.

I am honored to announce to you that at our regularly scheduled October board of directors meeting, the board unanimously approved the candidacy of James L. Liggins, Jr., Esq. as a member of our Greenleaf Financial Holding Company, Greenleaf Trust of Michigan, and Greenleaf Trust of Delaware board of directors.

James Liggins Jr. is a Senior Counsel at Warner Norcross and Judd and works from the Kalamazoo office in the Warner building at 180 Water Street. Prior to joining Warner, he was an attorney with Miller Canfield. He earned his B.A. from the University of Michigan and his J.D. from Michigan State University College of Law where he received the George N. Bashara Jr. Distinguished Alumni Award.

James currently serves on the Bronson Healthcare Group Board of Directors where he chairs the medical quality oversight committee. He is a member of the Michigan, Illinois and Indiana Bar. Further, James is appointed to the Michigan Bar State Board of Ethics and Judicial Qualifications Committee. Demonstrating community commitment, James is also a member of Southwest Michigan First Board of Directors and serves on the Michigan Center for Civic Education. Locally, James has served as a director for the Douglas Community Center and United Way of Kalamazoo, Battle Creek where he chaired the 2018 Annual Fund effort. James continues in his role as advisor and coordinator for the Kalamazoo Mock Trial team, which has won many high school state and national titles under his leadership. Not surprising was James’ nomination and recognition as one of Michigan’s Super Lawyer Rising Stars.

On behalf of our clients, team members, and current board of directors, we thank James for accepting the role of corporate director and look forward to working with him for many years to come. We anticipate continuing our journey of succession planning by adding an additional director to our collective board in 2023. Our current board of directors include William D. Johnston, Chairman; Ronda E. Stryker, Vice Chair; Ronald N. Kilgore, Secretary; Ronald A. Elenbaas, Barbara L. James, Michael F. Odar, Dr. Kay M. Palan, Sydney E. Parfet, David M. Thoms, and James L. Liggins, Jr.

By the time that this communication reaches you, our midterm elections will have been decided. Sanguine, by definition, is the ability to be optimistic that all will be fine in the midst of a difficult environment. I have to admit that it is difficult for me to be sanguine in anticipation of the November 8 results. Those that know me understand that I love economics, history and politics; I have loved them all my life. Academically and intellectually I have been asked to explain and teach the causation and effects of a variety of economic, historical and political events over the course of my career. The research and reading to inform myself has always been stimulating and challenging. It has been truly joyful to own that as part of my role. It has never seemed laborious or work-like, but rather is something that I have been compelled to do.

A recent poll of a major publication revealed that 40% of the population felt that there was a possibility that the United States could face a civil war in the next decade. The messages in political advertisements aired on television, leaflets and social media seem to me to be particularly targeted at fear rather than solutions or ideas. Interviews of candidates in any forum are simply regurgitations of talking points of national party politics. What relevance does blaming an opponent for inflation or immigration issues for a local school board or township commissioner position have? The thirst to achieve the perceived power of the elected positions seems to have eroded the normal reasons for serving the community and electorate. 54% of those queried in a USA Today poll felt that government is too powerful — yet parties, candidates, political action groups and donors are spending billions of dollars to be a part of what a majority say is too powerful.

It is clear through most polls that the majority of the electorate are unhappy. The list of the most important issues are clear to most. Democrats are focused upon reproductive choice, voter rights and environmental solution measures. Republicans are focused on inflation, immigration, election security and crime.

Democrats have stuck to a strategy that mirrors national polls on abortion rights, voting rights and the environment. In each of those specific areas the majority of people polled align with the Democrat’s position at the state and national office level.

The vast majority of Republicans polled continue to feel aligned with their party’s position on inflation, border security, crime and election security.

The two issues most likely to sway an increasingly smaller number of independent voters to either Democrat or Republican candidates are likely to be abortion rights or inflation.

Midterm elections have consistently favored the party not holding the presidency and thus the advantage lies with the Republicans. The ground game for voter turnout will be essential for Democrats to fight the midterm jinx and inflation momentum. When reading this that equation will already be known and then both parties will be left with the arduous task of governing after a result that most will be uninvested in nor happy with.