Politically-passionate MSU alumnus running for Novi City Council
While most MSU students graduate, some take internships that hopefully turn into jobs and some take jobs with a former or new employer.
Olsen said he thinks this is a great opportunity for him and he believes it takes a two-step process to win — which ultimately starts on the campaign trail.
“The first part (of the process) is proving to them that I’m worthy to be their representative in Novi, to be a part of the local government and (be) making serious decisions that impact their daily lives,” Olsen, formerly a political theory and constitutional democracy major, said. “The second part is living up to it. ... I can talk about it in the beginning, but then it needs to become action.”
Before running for Novi City Council, Olsen was just a young boy trying to “connect” with his grandparents, who are “very interested” in politics.
"My family has really been a driving force," Olsen said. "My parents and grandparents, as soon as I brought up the idea of running for city council there wasn't even a thought of it. It was like, 'okay, yeah, let's do it.'"
Steve Olsen, Sam’s dad, said while most of his family has been in business-oriented fields, Sam has always been more interested in topics such as history and politics.
“Honest to goodness, the kid has wanted to do this for a long time,” Steve Olsen said. "I can't remember when he wasn't (interested in politics)."
Mark Breaugh, a friend of Sam Olsen’s since fifth grade, said Sam is a very determined person who hasn’t skewed away from his childhood dream while being humble about it.
“Whatever he says he’s going to do, he’s going to do and that’s a really good quality to be able to count on somebody like that," Breaugh said.
Steve Olsen said he knew early in Sam Olsen’s high school career his son would go into politics.
“He just has a little bit of that old soul,” Steve Olsen said. “He has that connectability, where people feel comfortable in the terms of approaching him or being approached by him. ... I’m glad and proud that this is a path for him to see what he can do at the local level.”
Sam Olsen is also driven to hold himself to a high standard, to not let down all the people who’ve helped him get to where he’s at today.
“If I was interning or just straight up volunteering, I just lucked out that there were people there who looked out for me and continuously kept in contact with me to continuously offer more opportunities,” Sam Olsen said. “It really just became on me to take those opportunities and do something meaningful with them and kind of prove that I was worth the time and worth the effort.”
These opportunities led Sam Olsen to work within the state government, which he said will help him aid the people of Novi should he serve them.
“I’ve realized the greatest impact you can have is at the local level,” Sam Olsen said. “As it goes higher up, you don’t affect everybody. Instead, I can actually help my neighbors that I’ve grown up with my whole life ... I can focus on genuine concerns that my good friends and family have.”
Some of these concerns, he said, are transportation for the elderly and fixing roads. He has felt the negative impacts of road disrepair—paying $250 last week to fix two tires after he hit a pothole.
“It was a direct impact on me when it’s not just ‘wow, this road doesn’t look so nice,’” Sam Olsen said. “It’s affecting families and individuals, to the point where we can have nice services, we can have accessibility to other things, we can have job growth, but we need to focus on ensuring that we have great roads, especially where the state government has kind of focused on it but the direct impact is going to be coming from the local level.”
Sam Olsen said his experience in state government has taught him how to work with the state as a potential councilperson and to “be more efficient to help people.” He said his only current focus is the Nov. 7 election — and helping the people of Novi.
“I saw this is a real opportunity to continue being involved and it's kind of the next step for me,” Sam Olsen said. “So I’m no longer your neighbor, I’m no longer volunteering to help out and I’m no longer just around, but I’m actually going to be a part of a community in the sense that I can make real decisions that impact everyone's life. And for me, that’s more than enough.”