For Detroit clerk: Gilchrist; Sossi in District 1
The Detroit city clerk’s office became a national embarrassment in 2016, when half of the votes cast by city voters were ineligible for recount because the poll books didn’t match the ballots, or were missing altogether. Given the pivotal role Michigan played in the presidential election, this could have been disastrous had a recount actually gone ahead.
Clerk Janice Winfrey blamed outdated equipment, poor training and lack of support from the state.
But she was the person in charge, and should have done more to address the issues, or at least call attention to them, before the balloting began. And it wasn’t the first time her office has screwed up.
Voting is a sacred right, one that is held particularly precious in heavily African-American communities such as Detroit, where blacks historically were disenfranchised by racism.
They should not now have their votes made meaningless by incompetence.
Detroit voters should not support Winfrey in her bid for a fourth term when they go to the polls in the Aug. 8 primary.
Six candidates are vying to replace Winfrey: Former NAACP Detroit executive director Heaster Wheeler; D. Etta Wilcoxon, her opponent four years ago; Ronald Creswell, a clerical assistant for the Detroit Election Commission; Garlin D. Gilchrist II, director of innovation and emerging technology for the city; Cynthia Johnson, a legal counsel to non-profits, and Faustine Amara Onwuneme, who heads a hair braiding company.
Garlin Gilchrist brings the qualifications needed to modernize the clerk’s office and resolve its many organizational and technical problems.
Gilchrist has done well in his current position, developing methods to make it easier to report and repair broken fire hydrants, as well as other issues facing citizens, and improving access to information about city services.
He has a solid IT background, holding computer science degrees from the University of Michigan and working as a software engineer at Microsoft. He was on the social media team for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential run and was director of New Media at the Center for Community change, an activist group.
He’s worked on voter registration drives for moveon.org, and pledges to issue voter registration cards along with every high school diploma earned in the city.
Voters should support Garlin D. Gilchrist II in the city clerk primary.
State House District 1
Voters on the east side of Detroit and much of the Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods also will be choosing candidates to replace Brian Banks, the Democratic state representative who resigned in February after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor.
On the Democratic side of the ballot, 10 candidates are vying for the seat. Of that extensive group, Pamela Sossi of Harper Woods stands out as the most reasonable choice.
Sossi is an attorney who focuses on civil rights violations and employment discrimination.
Two candidates are on the Republican ballot: Mark Corcoran and William Phillips. Corcoran, a licensed builder and longtime GOP and conservative activist, is the better choice.