WORKING FOR OUR COMMUNITY
Strengthening Our Economy
Building a strong local economy to create jobs that provide a living wage. I have dedicated my career to strengthening our economy through entrepreneurship, small business growth, and attracting global corporations to Washtenaw County. We must work to create and nurture an innovation mentality in District 3 to attract talent, keep businesses thriving, encourage entrepreneurs and increase job growth.
To support local businesses during the COVID-19 crisis, a partnership was created between local economic development organizations, educational institutions, area foundations, and the Washtenaw County Office for Community and Economic Development to create a small business grant program. Nearly 500 local businesses received $1.275 million in grants through this collaborative program.
Infrastructure & Neighborhoods
Investing in our local infrastructure and neighborhoods. We must maintain our roads, sidewalks and drainage systems while protecting our farmland and natural resources. Our corner of Washtenaw County is enriched by many rivers, beautiful natural spaces, wonderful parks and recreational facilities. The challenge of the future is to balance growth and community needs without impairing our quality of life.
In 2019, I voted along with the full Board of Commissioners to expand the Washtenaw County Road Commission by adding two additional road commissioners to the current board of three members. This expansion allows for diversity of thought and experience from additional townships throughout Washtenaw County. I will be working with these new members, along with our current board, to create a culture of transparency and open communication.
Public Safety & Human Services
Maintaining a strong public safety and human services system in Washtenaw County. We must ensure a safe community while protecting our most vulnerable residents. Services and programs should be held to high-quality standards and result in effective care and positive outcomes. We must work to remove barriers to mental health services for our residents, particularly those who have suffered from trauma. We must provide resources needed to maintain safe neighborhoods.
Washtenaw County was faced with a huge shortfall of $10.3 million in funding from the State of Michigan for mental health services. For nine months, this was a core focus – protecting those who need and deliver these critical services. Together, we balanced the budget and protected direct services for our most vulnerable residents.
Strengthening a collaborative and responsive government. At the county level, elected officials affect the lives of residents more directly—and more often —than the governor, state senators and representatives. I believe that government should be responsive to its citizens and provide opportunities for meaningful public input. County Commissioners have a unique ability to connect with their diverse constituencies. I work each day to better understand the complex needs of all residents while prioritizing the needs of the 3rd district.
Since taking office in 2019, I have worked with the board to create new outlets for public input. The Board of Commissioners has taken our Working Sessions on the road and held sessions surrounding relative topics – from broadband to our roads – at township halls throughout Washtenaw County. In addition, I have hosted listening sessions with township supervisors and city mayors to gather direct feedback from residents on pressing issues for District 3.
Expanding access to high-speed internet. Many rural Washtenaw County residents do not have access to high-speed internet, and a large portion of these households reside in the 3rd district. The FCC estimates 5.74 percent of Michigan’s population have no broadband providers in their area, and only 62.32 percent have more than one option for high-speed internet. This not only impacts children who are required to download and submit homework online, it also deters new businesses moving to the area as every organization—from large manufacturing to small retailers—requires access to high-speed internet. With the full support of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, I am working with both the public and private sector to create a partnership that works for our residents—in features and financials.
With full support of the Board of Commissioners, the Washtenaw County Broadband Taskforce was reinstated in 2019. With support of township supervisors and local residents, the taskforce created the Washtenaw County Broadband Survey to uncover the underserved areas in western Washtenaw. Our preliminary findings drastically differ from that of the FCC’s Form 477. The FCC claims that only 18.5% of households in the participating townships did not have access to broadband at 25MBPS/3Mbps as opposed to 64% shown in this study. Armed with this information, we are poised to go after state and federal grants to support the expansion of broadband infrastructure.