With an eye toward ending gerrymandering for county commission districts, a slate of county Democrats is running for the top county-wide posts in November.
Jordan Genso of Brighton filed to run for county clerk; Ragan Lake of Hamburg Township filed for county prosecutor; and Dan Luria of Hamburg Township filed for county treasurer. They have created a joint website for their slate, at www.FairVoteLivingston.org.
“We need to carry on the work of 2018’s Proposal 2 by making sure that the same principles of fairness are applied at the county level and that the unfairness of the districts created a decade ago is not repeated in 2021,” the three candidates said in a news release.
The clerk, prosecutor, and treasurer, along with the county chairs of the Democratic and Republican parties, make up the committee that will draw new lines for county commission districts early in 2021 after the results of the 2020 census are released.
“What clearly separates us from our opponents is that we are promising to propose and support the following resolution at the first meeting of the reapportionment committee:
The Livingston County Reapportionment Committee shall abide by MCL 46.404(e), by pledging not to adopt a map that keeps fewer townships whole and has a larger population variance than any other map submitted to the Committee. Passing that resolution before the Census numbers are released will create a fair process so that whatever map best meets the objective criteria shall be the map that is adopted.
In Livingston County, 54 percent of voters backed 2018’s Proposal 2 initiative, which set new rules for drawing districts for congressional and legislative districts rather than allowing politicians to draw the lines for their own districts. But that measure failed to address the unfairness of the county redistricting process.
To make sure Livingston County has fair commission district lines for the next decade, the three Democratic candidates pledged to adopt only a districting plan that follows state law regarding population variance and keeping townships in the aucasinosonline same district, regardless of the impact on their own party.
“The County Clerk is the top elections official in the county, so it is crucial that they fulfill their duties in a non-partisan manner,” Genso said. “Gerrymandering is one of the worst forms of partisan malfeasance because it undermines our democracy by rigging elections. For the County Clerk to participate in that corrupt behavior is a direct violation of the trust we place in them to oversee fair elections.”
Genso served as one of the five members of the Livingston County Reapportionment Committee in 2011 that redrew the county commission districts.
“In 2011, I was naive enough to expect the County Clerk at the time to support the map drawn in accordance with the law, but instead she led the effort to push through the gerrymandered map,” Genso said. “I would love to believe that the current County Clerk would put the constituents before the demands of her party, but I’m no longer naive enough to expect so.”
In 2011, the county redistricting commission adopted a plan that favored Republicans even though it broke up more townships and had a wider variance in population than other plans put forth. A video of the meeting at which the county officials refused to explain their vote for the inferior plan is available on the Democratic team’s website, www.FairVoteLivingston.org.
“The promise of Prop 2 will not be totally fulfilled if we let Republican politicians draw new county commission district lines that favor their own party,” said Lake. “Electing Democrats to county-wide positions who pledge to use fair criteria is the next step voters need to take to make sure politics doesn’t determine the outcome of our elections in advance.”
“We have nothing to fear from fairness,” added Luria. “We can’t just let Republicans gerrymander our districts and expect elections to be fair.”
A longtime advocate for increasing access to the polls while maintaining security and trust in elections, Genso is well-suited to oversee and manage the changes in the election process as a result of 2018’s Proposal 3. His operations management education from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, his career as a local Realtor, and his deep ties throughout the entire county make him the ideal candidate. He has served on the Brighton District Library board of trustees since 2017 and is currently the board’s treasurer. He also serves on the City of Brighton’s Zoning Board of Appeals and is the former board president of FlexTech High School. He is married and has two daughters.
Genso also has made transparency one of his top concerns, leading a “People’s Fillibuster” to encourage the county commission to broadcast its meetings so that the general public can learn about county business when they can’t attend meetings.
Lake, of Hamburg Township, is an assistant prosecutor in the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office where she works in the Child Abuse Unit handling felony cases with child victims of abuse, sexual assault, and homicide, as well as other felony cases with witnesses under the age of 12. Previously, she prosecuted sexual assaults with victims over the age of 16, and before that she handled district court cases in Wayne County outside the city of Detroit.
Lake’s experience working with special victims has shown her the importance of victim-focused prosecution. While working in district courts, Lake said she worked closely with local courts and law enforcement agencies, which showed her the importance of involving the community in law enforcement activities.
“I think the voters deserve a choice,” she said. “I also believe the Republican Party is not adequately representing or serving the interests of everyday people,” she said.
Besides victim-focused prosecution, Lake’s priorities would be:
• Seeking alternatives to incarceration especially for first-time offenders who have made one bad decision, and for individuals with drug, alcohol, or mental health problems, or for veterans.
• Addressing conflicts of interest within the prosecutor’s office to assure the public that cases are handled impartially and without bias by or for the prosecutor or the defense.
Holding accountable corporations that pollute Livingston County waters to protect our county’s quality of life, recreational opportunities, and water supplies.
• Treating all individuals with respect and dignity, making sure justice would be blind to the color, race, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity and/or sexual orientation of the litigants, while prosecuting anyone who commits crimes targeting another person’s color, race, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity and/or sexual orientation to the fullest extent of the law.
Lake has lived in the county for six years. She is married to Martin Lake. Her stepson graduated from Brighton High School, and their son attends Brighton Area Schools. She attends St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
Lake holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Michigan and a law degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law. She is a member of the Criminal Jurisprudence and Practice Committee of the Michigan Bar Association.
For more information, contact Lake at email@example.com.
As treasurer, Luria said he would be a better watchdog for taxpayers. “I will hold quarterly public sessions at which I will show budget and actual figures for major County programs, and answer questions about them. No more need to file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests,” he pledged.
He noted that he would have let county commissioners know when veterans millage funds were not being spent according to the plan promised to voters. “The Veterans Millage takes in nearly $1.1 million each year, but only about half of this money is being spent providing services to our veterans. It’s appalling that our supposedly anti-tax Republicans have, year after year, taken tax money but failed to provide the services those taxes were supposed to pay for,” he said.
He also promised better and more transparent oversight of the delinquent tax revolving fund, which currently has $45 million, including $30 million in unencumbered funds that could be used to accelerate road repairs and to fund other urgent needs, including services for seniors. And he would explore payment plans for taxpayers who are behind on their taxes, as is encouraged by the “Pay as You Stay” program recently signed into law by Gov. Getchen Whitmer.
Luria has lived in Hamburg Township for 34 years. His two grown children who graduated from Pinckney Community High School, and his wife, Janet, is the founder of Livingston Family Center and The Connection Youth Services. They have been married for 35 years.
Luria worked in the United Auto Workers Research Department and later was vice president and chief financial officer of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center. He is active in the Winans Lake Association, chairing its rules and bylaws committees He currently is vice-chair for strategy of the Livingston County Democratic Party and an elected precinct delegate. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D from the University of Massachusetts.