Clerk Winfrey will battle surprise challenger

Nicquel Terry
The Detroit News

Detroit — City Clerk Janice Winfrey will face off against Garlin D. Gilchrist II —  a surprise challenger — in the November election.

Winfrey won 51.3 percent of the vote in Tuesday's primary with Gilchrist II trailing far behind at 19.6 percent, according to complete unofficial election results.

Heaster Wheeler, the former NAACP Detroit branch executive director who pollsters expected to advance to the general election with Winfrey, lost the primary with a distant 13.2 percent.

The top two vote-getters advanced to the Nov. 7 general election.

Detroit City Clerk Janice M. Winfrey.

Winfrey's other primary challengers included D. Etta Wilcoxon, Faustine Amara Onwuneme, Cynthia A. Johnson and Ronald Creswell.

Voters at various polls in Detroit appeared to be split earlier Tuesday on who was the best candidate. Some Detroiters wanted a new clerk after mishaps in last November's election. Others said they were pleased with Winfrey's operation of the city's elections.

A May poll found that Winfrey was vulnerable after a state audit of 136 precincts — triggered by voting irregularities — found “an abundance of human errors” by city precinct workers in the November election. She had less than 50 percent support in the Target-Insyght poll of 400 likely Detroit voters in May.

But Winfrey, 59, blamed the issues on outdated equipment and announced in January that the city was purchasing hundreds of new voting machines.


Winfrey, who is running for a fourth term as clerk, said earlier this year transparency and the “high level of integrity” in her office is helping her with voters. She touted cleaning up the city’s voter registration files, allowing voters to cast absentee ballots at satellite locations 30 days prior to elections, and partnerships with local schools.

If re-elected, Winfrey said she plans to continue advocating for “no reason” absentee voting in Michigan.

Winfrey’s campaign raised $12,000 between October and July.

Gilchrist II, 34, who most recently was the city’s director of innovation and emerging technology, said he has worked as a community organizer for His campaign committee raised nearly $102,000 from April-July.