As a Democrat, I believe we must lift up the poorest among us — through smart, long-term policy solutions — in order to advance as a society. I believe that Black Lives Matter, love is love, science is real, more guns make us less safe, and no human being is illegal. The current political and social climate in this country is terrifying. I know we can do better.
As a Millennial, I’ve struggled with crippling student loan debt, a lack of buying power, going without health insurance, caring for my parents, and other frustrations shared by my generation. We can do better for all our generations.
As a mom, I have learned the importance of work-life balance and paid parental leave, along with the incredible burden of mounting healthcare expenses. Not being able to afford to have a baby should never be a reason you decide not to have one. Breastfeeding should be acceptable anywhere. I want to help other moms have and do better.
Deteriorating Roads & Infrastructure
I’m running to get our roads fixed. We need to use better materials (so the patch doesn’t turn to gravel in a week), best practices (like what they’re doing in Minnesota), Union labor (so they actually care about doing a good job), and we need to take on the big resurfacing and reconstruction projects rather than just patching and repatching over and over.
All that takes money, which the County doesn’t have because the State isn’t sharing enough revenue with us. Maybe we’ll get a blue wave to change that, but I say WE CAN’T WAIT FOR THE STATE. Every day that goes by without a solution increases the odds that you’re going to hit a pothole and do serious damage to your car, not to mention the less-obvious damage all that asphalt gravel is doing. I want the strongest and fastest-possible solution for our roads, and that’s why I support issuing a bond immediately to raise the $200 million we need to address all the County roads rated “poor” in the next 5 years. The bond gets us the money we need to get started immediately, and then a millage covers the payments on the bond over time. 2 mils — or about $200 annually for a $200,000 home — is the most we will need to pay the bond, and that can be lowered if the state gets its act together.
When I blew out my tire on Lake Lansing Road, it cost me almost $200 just for the tow, new tire and labor. Eventually I’ll have to get my rim replaced, too. That’s why I have no doubt this is one millage we absolutely need. But the millage alone will take too long, and that’s why we need the bond.
Trails & Parks
As a mom, and the wife of an avid cyclist, I support smart investments in the trails and parks my family enjoys. As County Commissioner, I’ll make sure we complete the Lake Lansing to MSU Trail, and also set aside sufficient resources to maintain what we’re building. The River Trail in Lansing is in bad shape, in some places, due to a lack of investment in maintenance. We have to think long-term so that when the Trails & Parks millage runs out, we don’t let the wonderful things we’re building now fall into disrepair.
Ingham County ought to be a leader in renewable energy development and investments. The budget is tight, and that’s why I will push for an energy audit of all our County buildings, some of which are still running florescent lights and have lights on all night in conference rooms because there are no motion-detectors. Employees at the County Health Department tell me the temperature drops as much as 5 degrees from one room to the next, and employees at the Town Hall in Mason say the A/C is so inefficient that they argue over whether to run it on the weekends — and if it doesn’t run, that jeopardizes the security of our important documents, including my marriage certificate and my son’s birth certificate. I find that unacceptable. We need an audit of all our buildings and from that, a plan for long-term improvements. And I’ll bring in Union electrical workers to improve our wiring and systems to save money, too.
As a bisexual woman, my lifelong conviction is that we must fight for equal rights and protections at ALL levels of government. We can’t wait for the state to take action. We must stand up for and protect our vulnerable neighbors at any and every opportunity.
I’ve received a “positive” rating from the Lansing Association of Human Rights PAC, and I marched in the Lansing Pride Parade. If elected, I will be the first openly bisexual woman to serve on the Ingham County Board of Commissioners. And as County Commissioner, I will make sure the County only contracts with companies that include LGBTQ+ protections on their equal opportunity employment policies. I also have a plan to create a transgender bathroom policy for all our County facilities, so County employees — particularly at our public parks — are equipped with the training and policies they need to defend the rights of everyone to use the bathroom of their choice.
Change doesn’t start with the state. It starts with all of us.
Unfunded Pension Liabilities
The County’s current unfunded pension and other post-compensatory benefits liability is $475 million, a crippling debt we must resolve. I want to work honestly with our hard-working, union employees and retirees to resolve it in a way that preserves secure retirement compensation plans but also pays down our unfunded liability over a reasonable time. I propose a model similar to what Meridian Township has done: a collaborative process to reach a deal acceptable to all. Through this process, the Township has developed a revenue stream to pay off its pension liabilities within 9 years, and it’s currently funded at 65%, the highest it has been in 20 years. That’s the kind of communications and planning we need at the County level, and I plan to make this a high priority.
Our schools are woefully underfunded and teachers and other staff should absolutely be paid much more, but that’s a state issue over which I won’t have influence as County Commissioner. I do plan to get involved in the Ingham Academy, our alternative school for students who have not been successful in public schools. These are young moms, students who have had run-ins with the justice system, and others who need extra support to graduate. I’ve spent 5 years working with underprivileged youth and I want to make sure we don’t give up on these kids, instead giving them the resources and skills they need to graduate and go on to college or a career.
I support the Justice Millage with a caveat. First, I support it because the existing jail is literally falling apart. The conditions our prisoners are living under, and staff are working under, are practically inhumane, and the new justice proposal has some great programs related to rehabilitation and services.
My caveat is, the county should have done more research. They didn’t consult municipal leaders, and didn’t survey prisoners or their families. I would have investigated building the new jail in Lansing, where it makes more sense for staff, prisoners and their families who are currently wasting too much time and money commuting between Lansing and Mason. The County needs to do a much better job in communications and consulting stakeholders, and my background in research and communications will help me push for better decision-making.
I unequivocally support renewing the County millage for our Capital Area District Libraries. This is just a renewal, not a new tax, and our libraries provide important services to our community, particularly to those who may not have computer or internet access at home. My family uses the Haslett and Okemos libraries almost weekly, and we especially appreciate the programs and selection available for our toddler. We also love to check out audiobooks for road trips, and comic books for our own nerdy enjoyment. Ingham County’s libraries are fantastic. Vote yes to keep them that way.