Jennifer Garcia, a teacher and mother who says the values of community, cooperation, and compassion will guide her campaign, is running as a Democrat for Livingston County Commissioner in District 2, which includes Oceola and Deerfield townships, as well as the southwest corner of Hartland Township.
As commissioner, Garcia said she would work to make sure the county budget matches the priorities of the community, and she said she would cooperate with constituents to make that happen.
“Transparency and inclusion are important if the County Commission is to make sound decisions that benefit all constituents,” she said, noting the dire consequences in Flint when community voices were ignored during the water crisis.
Right now, she said, women in the community are underrepresented on the board, with only two on the nine-member board.
One area of priority for her community, she said, is better roads, safer walking and bike paths, and crosswalks. In some areas of the district, she said, it’s dangerous to walk or bicycle to schools, recreational areas, and stores. In the areas of her district that are populated with public resources and businesses, young families are looking for more walkable communities and safer access without the reliance of a car, she said.
Garcia said other aspects of the district’s health and safety need to be addressed with compassion, specifically the area’s opioid abuse problem. She believes the county should join a lawsuit against several large drug manufacturers to recover the cost of dealing with opioid addiction.
While Garcia believes in legal consequences for breaking the law, she also believes there are better avenues for those who abuse drugs and have concerns of mental illness. One important avenue she would advocate for is the support of existing treatment courts in Livingston County. Citing the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, “seventy-five percent of drug court graduates remain arrest free, compared to just 30 percent of those released from prisons,” she said.
As a health educator she understands the concerns of mental health and drug abuse are deeply layered and in desperate need of attention.
Garcia lives in Hartland Township with her husband, Frank, and their three children. She teaches in Ann Arbor public schools and is a member of the Ann Arbor Education Association and the Michigan Education Association. Prior to her 11 years teaching, Garcia also worked in the sports medicine field as a certified athletic trainer.
As a union member herself who grew up in a union household, she said she would fight to make sure the county pays fair wages to its employees.
“I firmly believe that high-quality jobs and the right to collective bargaining are the foundations of America’s middle class,” she said.
People wishing more information on Garcia’s campaign can follow her on Facebook.