Kent County voters to elect two new Circuit Court judges

Voters in Kent County will elect two new Circuit Court judges in 2016 - one due to retirement, the other due to an additional judgeship being created.

The addition of a judge means another assistant prosecutor will have to be added to accommodate the position.

Also, there will be two more court clerks, two more courthouse deputies and an additional courtroom will be outfitted in space already existing in the 12-floor court facility at 180 Ottawa Ave. NW.

The Kent County Board of Commissioner approved the outlay of $509,064 in personnel costs including $191,324 in judicial staff salaries, $107,609 for the Kent County Prosecutor's Office and $210,131 for the Sheriff's Department. An additional $116,476 in judicial salary and associated expenses will be paid directly by the state.

All of the positions will be filled by January 2017 and the judge's position will be decided by election in November 2016. There will be at least two judgeships on the ballot because Judge George Buth will be forced out due to the state's age restrictions.
Candidates have until April 19 at 4:00 to file to run. If more than four candidates run (which I presume will happen), there will be a primary with the top four candidates moving on to the November general.

This will mark the first time since 2006 that a non-incumbent position on the Circuit Court has been up for election.


On being elected 2nd District Democratic Chair

I am pleased to announce that I have been elected Chair of the Michigan 2nd Congressional District Democratic Party!

Here are a few areas on which I plan to focus as Chair:

Boost the Democratic "brand." People need to understand what it means to be a Democrat - and why they should vote for us. As we learned in 2014, it's not enough to call out Republicans (though they need to be called out); we must also talk about what we stand for as Democrats. From the New Deal and the Great Society to the enormous progress made during the Obama Administration, Democrats have such a wonderful story to tell. Let's make others feel the same pride that we feel when we call ourselves Democrats!

Collaborate with other Party units, labor, and other progressive stakeholders. We have plenty of opportunities to work with county parties, College and Young Democrats, MDP caucuses, labor unions, and organizations focused on the environment, women's rights, racial justice, and other issues. 2CD should serve as an intermediary and as a resource for Party units and other stakeholders. In addition, I hope to leverage my relationships with local and state progressive leaders to strengthen 2CD.

Plan for the long term. As a Party, we need to move beyond merely thinking of the next election cycle. 2016 is critical, but so are 2018, 2020, and so on. The Democratic National Committee and the MDP are taking steps toward long-term strategic planning through the 2022 cycle; we need to do the same in 2CD. While 2016 is critically important, so is 2018, when we will elect a new Governor and other statewide officials, re-elect Senator Stabenow, and win the 34th State Senate district. Along this vein, we need to build our bench by electing great Democrats at the local level who will serve as our state lawmakers and statewide elected officials of tomorrow.

Once again, I am looking forward to serving in this capacity and helping Democrats at the federal, state, and local levels in 2016 and beyond!