Allies, Issues & Action: City Clerk, Janice Winfrey

          Detroit NAACP Allies, Issues, and Action Meeting held on Tuesday, October 8th was exciting and informative. Our guest speaker was Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey. As we prepared to here from the City Clerk, we were also graced with the presence of Melvin “Butch” Hollowell, Attorney for the Detroit NAACP. Attorney Hollowell opened the discussion giving an update on the Affirmative Action Case, which will be heard in the United State Supreme Court on Tuesday, October 15, 2013. Our Attorney Melvin Butch Hollowell also spoke about the Detroit Branch NAACP Lawsuit against the State of Michigan concerning P.A. 436, the Emergency Manager Law.  “This lawsuit is not just about Detroit. Its about every Municipality in Michigan with an Emergency Manager.” Butch went into a very detailed discussion to educate our Allies on the three separate lawsuits on the Emergency Manager issue in Michigan. “Flint’s Lawsuit deals with Pension Funds. AFSCME’s lawsuit deals with Collective Bargaining Rights, and the Detroit NAACP Lawsuit deals strictly with Voting Rights. Our argument is the Emergency Manager law creates a superior and inferior class of voters.
          Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey was joined by the Will Wesley. Mr. Wesley took over for Daniel Baxter as the Deputy Clerk and Director of Elections in Detroit. Speaking first,  the Clerk defined what the roll of the Clerk was in the election process. In terms of voter turnout Clerk Winfrey explained “Voter turnout is my priority!” City Clerk Winfrey also tried to dispel some of the misunderstandings about the 2013 Primary Elections.  “We met with the Wayne County Clerk, and the State Board of Elections to discuss the primary election months ahead of time!” the Clerk explained. “We used hash marks to keep a tally of the votes, but it was not a binding document.” The Clerk was deliberate in helping our Allies understand the challenges she has had to face every election cycle. From the infamous two page Ballot, to Detroit voting city council by district for the first time in almost 100 years, every election cycle has brought new challenges and new ways of doing things! Winfrey explained that she is an administrator at heart and will stop at nothing to insure the integrity of our elections. “I will go to jail to insure that elections in Detroit are administered with the utmost integrity!”
          Mr. Wesley addressed the Allies with information on his work history. He is a military man who has worked in elections throughout the country for 11 years. From the State of New York to Washington State, and Florida, Will Wesley brings allot of experience to the job, but can he feel the big shoes of former director of Elections Daniel Baxter?  Deputy Clerk Wesley opened his remarks by saying, I was thoroughly impressed with the level of professionalism of our employees at the Department of Elections.” Will Wesley, the Director of Elections/ Deputy Clerk also left us with some very important dates for the upcoming elections;
  1. October 21st – Satellite Voting Begins at the East and West campuses of Wayne County Community College District
  2. October 28th – Public Hearing on the Consolidation of Elections – (Moving all odd year election; Mayor and City Council, to even years elections to coincide with Presidential and/or Gubernatorial elections.)
  3. Vote -In – Person ballots end on November 4th
  4. Election Day is November 5th!

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