Devin Steele, the only candidate who has filed to run for Green Oak Township clerk thus far, doesn’t understand why the Livingston County Republican Party didn’t approach him personally to ask about his political affiliation before adopting a resolution opposing him.
As first reported on The Livingston Post, Steele filed to run as a Republican in May, a move that raised eyebrows and hackles among some Republicans as he has supported some liberal causes and candidates in the past. In an unusual move, the executive committee of the local GOP passed a resolution condemning his candidacy. You can read about that by clicking here.
“It would have behooved (Livingston County GOP Chairperson) Meghan Reckling and her political machine to personally approach me regarding my political affiliation instead of writing what is essentially an op-ed opposing my candidacy and insulting the near 19,000 people who live in Green Oak Township,” Steele said.
Despite this kerfuffle, Steele extended an olive branch to the local GOP.
“I would like the Livingston County Republican Party to know that they can reconcile with me at any time,” he said. “I am willing to work with them. The door will always be open.”
Steele, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Christian history and theology at Hope College, describes himself as a political Independent.
The local GOP disagrees, pegging him as a Democrat, claiming he has donated no fewer than 39 times to Democratic candidates and committees, and at least 58 times through ACTBLUE. (The totality of Steele’s political donations reportedly has been less than $500.)
“…(B)ased upon Mr. Steele’s public donation record and his public support of past candidates, the Livingston County Republican Party Executive Committee believes Mr. Steele is a young progressive Democrat seeking election to public office,” the resolution reads. “The Livingston County Republican Party Executive Committee also believes Mr. Steele has decided to seek the nomination as a Republican because past election results show that the Republican nominee will most likely win the general election.” You can read the official resolution by clicking here.
Steele disagrees: “I am not a monolith when it comes to my varying support to different causes and candidates all across the political spectrum,” he said. “I do not think that it is healthy or reasonable for our democracy to be single-sided. A free-flowing exchange of ideas betters us all.”
“I have donated to people who I think have the best qualifications for the office that they are seeking. Assuming my political affiliation based on campaign contribution history is teetering on anecdotal and desperate”
The local GOP resolution — which Steele calls a “vicious and low attack” — seems to have caught him off guard.
“I was planning on joining the party,” he said. “However, that is not an option currently.”
Will the GOP resolution present challenges for him to run in what will most certainly be a Republican primary in August 2020?
Steele says it won’t.
“The residents of Green Oak Township are smart enough not to listen to political-machine insiders telling them how to vote,” he said. “I embrace the resolution as a badge of anti-establishment honor.”
He went on to say that he doesn’t care whether or not he has the “political machine’s rubber stamp of approval.”
“My vision, candor and love for Green Oak Township will speak for itself to the voters,” Steele said.
Should he be elected, Steele said he has crafted what he calls a “6-Point Plan for Green Oak Township” rooted in the principles of “transparency, accountability, and Christian mission,” and which showcases what he calls Green Oak’s values of “perseverance, goodwill and candor.”
“By far, this is the most ambitious undertaking for a township-level candidate in Green Oak in an entire generation,” he said.
The six points in the plan are:
1. Video record all board meetings.
2. No more pay raises.
3. He will donate 5 percent of his salary to charity.
4. Heighten election security.
5. Expand voter outreach programs.
6. Implement an anti-corruption policy.
A member of the First Presbyterian Church of Brighton, Steele is a part-time Sunday Bible school instructor. His community involvement includes the Humane Society of Livingston County, the Michigan Abolitionist Project, the Livingston County United Way, and Gleaners Community Food Bank.