"I believe in good government and transparency in politics and want all the people in District 9 to feel they are represented. Washtenaw county has so much to offer from our larger university centers, like Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, to our small towns and rural areas. I wouldn't want to bring my child up anywhere else, and I want to see the county grow in opportunity for all people. Thanks for taking the time to be here and giving me the chance to earn your vote."
LIST OF ISSUES
Community Mental Health
Every community across the county has issues that our community mental health program can address. Besides being time to end the stigma about mental health, we also have an opioid epidemic in all corners of Washtenaw county. I believe the way to tackle any issue that CMH deals with is to truly focus on the word “community.” We know our own communities and the unique issues in each and we must create increased visibility for the existing programs that CMH has to offer across the county.
It is also imperative to address the opioid epidemic in clever and new ways. Our county government needs be agile to address these concerns and examine the newest research on how to combat addiction. Ultimately, we (including those who govern) must always approach it with the utmost of compassion. Addiction research is a fast paced field and we can take advantage of new findings. Moreover, as a member of the Board of Commissioners with a background in healthcare, I know that the strongest indicator of success for mental health patients is in the continuity of care those patients receive. Paying workers in this field a livable wage is part of the solution. We have to make it financially viable for those who work with the most vulnerable in our society to continue this important work and forge the bonds necessary with their patients to facilitate functional and recovered living.
This has become such a buzz word, I am not sure people even know what we are referring to when we talk about this. There's much at stake, but for me affordable housing means that the people who work in this community can afford to live and raise their families in this community. I want nurses, firefighters, public safety officials, bus drivers, skilled trades (and more) to be able to live here, in town. As a member of the Board of Commissioners, I want to work on new and innovative solutions to affordable housing for working people in all parts of the county. When we continue to relegate our ideas about "affordable housing" to parts of the county east of US-23, we make an untenable divide. Part of what drives people to live in this area is the commitment to diversity and difference, and this must stretch to our working class community as well. In the Housing Affordability and Economic Equity of Washtenaw county completed 2015, the authors write, "First, Ann Arbor will become more costly, and less affordable, especially to non student renters in the short run and eventually, to aspiring buyers as well." I want to work hand-in-hand with all levels of government to talk about how we can work together to create viable options.
One of my primary motivators when considering this run for office was concerns about economic justice. In Washtenaw County, it is high time to address income disparities and gaps. The Board of Commissioners has passed a living wage ordinance, but some county employees are exempt—that must change. I would also support fair wage initiatives at the county, state, and national levels.
There are always attempts lurking in the shadows (and lame duck sessions of government at all levels) to undermine the rights of workers. In the county, I will fight to maintain prevailing wage and work against all attempts to repeal it. Additionally, right to work is legislation that has to be overturned. As a county official, I will be sure to support the rights of those in this county to organize and be sure that all CBAs are upheld. Our tax dollars should not be spent funding law firms from the west side of the state that focus on union busting. I also believe we must, not only in the state of Michigan, but also in Washtenaw county, draw on the strong manufacturing base in Michigan. And we have to do all this while addressing the wage gap and equal pay for women.
There is also the intersection of environmental justice with economic justice. Too often sustainable environmental solutions are made only available to the upperly mobile We need to find a way to make environmental solutions available for everyone in society. One of my plans if elected by you would be to find new funding solutions for ecological innovations across the county, including working class neighborhoods. Sustainable solutions benefit everyone.
We need to build movements to fight against environmental injustice. As a nurse, I promise to be part of this fight. We must also support bold, progressive leaders for state and federal office to ensure that they have the principles to fight the big-monied interests. Creating environmental change will be disruptive, but we must do it. The Clean Air Act of 1970 was also seen as disruptive, but the changes were as necessary then as the changes we must make now about creating carbon neutral energy. I have an 11 year old son and I want him and his future family to be able to breath and go outside. I will fight fracking in Washtenaw county and look for clean sources of energy. I want Washtenaw county to create union jobs that can build and maintain clean energy and help create work for those that currently build oil and gas pipelines. After all, I don't want pipelines going through the county, and I want to support working families whose livelihood depends on the labor. It's not an either or problem-- It's an "and" issue and I am ready to take on this work!
As a nurse, you might imagine I have some strong views on public health. Until we have a single payer health system in this county, the public health system as administered by county governments will be a life line of support. When I was a young girl, my dad briefly worked for the Oakland County Health Department. I still remember visiting work with him, the nurses, and mostly the vaccinations I received. That vaccine program remains an integral part of the public health system, one that protects our entire community. Public health differs from what I do in the hospital as it focuses on a wellness model. I will support the public health in the county by continuing to support evidence based actions and programs. Making existing programs more accessible will be an important part of my work at the county. I want young families not to be deterred from accessing maternal and child health programs.
The 2018 county health rankings illustrated that Washtenaw county is succeeding in some measures, but still has some woeful statistics to recognize and address. 14% of people in the county remain food insecure and severe housing problems remain a pressing issue.
Most alarming was that we are the third worst performer in terms of income inequality, which has profound public health repercussions, like increased mortality risks, cardiovascular disease, and over all poor health. Additionally as the 2018 County Health Ranking observes, "Communities with greater income inequality can experience a loss of social connectedness, as well as decreases in trust, social support, and a sense of community for all residents."
Labor and Collective Bargaining
I am a rank-and-file union leader. I fight each and every day to make sure that nurses have justice on the job and the ability to protect their patients from market overreach. We must be aggressive in communicating the benefits of the labor movement to young workers eager for a more democratic working life. I would use my office to support workers as they organize and will always give support for our county workers in their efforts to organize and negotiate new contracts. We must be bold, aggressive, and assertive to win in a right-to-work environment. We must also protect workers in Washtenaw county from the effects of the prevailing wage repeal. If we work together and build a broad coalition that recognizes the intersectionality of our struggles, I am confident that we can win for working people even under the most difficult of circumstances. I would put myself, as a public official, on the line with striking workers. I would hold bad employers accountable for their actions and use what power I could muster to protect workers when they exercise their rights to concerted activity.