Page 1

COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE: POLITICAL STRATEGY THROUGH A BUSINESS LENS

PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE: ELECTION REFORM AND MICHIGAN

2020 CENSUS: MAINTAINING MICHIGAN’S VOICE IN CONGRESS

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THE HEALTH AND FUTURE OF

OUR DEMOCRACY

IMPACT

10

COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE: POLITICAL STRATEGY THROUGH A BUSINESS LENS Political reform advocate Katherine Gehl and Harvard Professor Michael Porter say the solution to Washington’s roadblocks are in the two-party system. Gehl’s fearless political strategy proposes election reforms that would elect candidates not necessarily with the biggest following, but more widely preferred by voters. TRANSFORMING ELECTIONS: RANKED CHOICE VOTING This method of electing politicians allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference, instead of only choosing one.

16

RANKED CHOICE VOTING AND THE DETROIT REGION Eastpointe became the first city in Michigan to use ranked choice voting in 2019. Ferndale could be next, but obstacles stand in the way.

18

FREEDOM OF CHOICE: NONPARTISAN PRIMARY ELECTIONS Rising concern about America’s polarized politics has prompted many U.S. states to make changes in how primary elections are conducted.

26 PERCEPTION

• V O L U M E 111 , I S S U E 4

12

22

MEMBERSHIP

CONTENTS

FEATURE STORY

D E C E M B E R 2 01 9

PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE: POLITICAL INNOVATIONS AND MICHIGAN Four political pundits discuss the implications of proposed election reforms including ranked choice voting and nonpartisan primaries in Lansing. VOTING THROUGHOUT HISTORY A look back on the past reveals that we’ve come a long way in how we select our elected officials.

28

THE OPPOSITION: IS AMERICA’S VOTING SYSTEM BEST LEFT ALONE? Critics of election reform want voting to stay simple and accessible for voters, but new proposed election reforms may put this at risk.

32

SECURING OUR ELECTIONS Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson gives her views on election reforms and security as the 2020 presidential election moves closer.

33

MICHIGAN FREEDOM FUND: PROTECT THE VOTE The conservative nonprofit takes a cautious stance on making changes to our elections – saying that reforms could cause more harm than good.

34

VOTERS NOT POLITICIANS: MAKING VOTES COUNT The grassroots campaign that brought forth Proposal 2, the successful ballot initiative to combat gerrymandering, is working to make voting more accessible.

35

2020 CENSUS: BE COUNTED The 2020 census is critical to maintaining Michigan’s voice in Congress. Forces are working to ensure an accurate count.

44

POINT OF VIEW State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Minority Leader Christine Greig share their thoughts on term limits and the influence of former Gov. Billl Milliken.

Publisher Tammy Carnrike, CCE Managing Editor and Art Director Melissa Read Editor Melanie Barnett Photographers Andy Sandifer Courtesy photos Advertising Director Jim Connarn Advertising Representatives Laurie Scotese Glennon Martin Research and Analysis Christyn Lucas Austeja Uptaite Back Issues 313.596.0391

Published by Detroit Regional Chamber Services Inc. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without written permission.

Detroiter (ISSN 0011-9709) is published four times a year (April, June, Oct. and Dec.) by the Detroit Regional Chamber, One Woodward Avenue, Suite 1900, Detroit MI 48226, Phone: (313)964-4000. Periodical postage paid at Detroit MI Subscription price: members, $14: nonmembers, $18. Individual copies: $4; plus postage. POSTMASTER Send address changes to: Detroiter, One Woodward Avenue, Suite 1900, Detroit MI 48226. Copyright 2007, Detroit Regional Chamber Services Inc.


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4

Executive Summary FROM THE PRESIDENT

WE CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, or how engaged you are in civic affairs, I believe that when all of us look around at the state of our politics, discourse, and democracy, we can agree that we can do better than this. The world’s leading superpower, the indispensable nation, the beacon of hope for democracy and hope the world over is experiencing a bout of tribalism, suppressed voter participation, growing income inequality and an international posture that seems to be confusing our longterm strategic allies. We can do better than this. While these elements may seem unrelated, these and other economic and societal issues that we are grappling with stem from a loss of faith by the people in the underpinnings of our society. Faith in key institutions such as religion, education, businesses, news media, international non-governmental organizations, and certainly government – especially at the national level – are at record lows and continue to fall. Only our brave men and women in military uniform have been spared the wrath of diminished trust. We can at least be thankful for that. At the core of this, people feel the institutions that are supposed to serve us haven’t been serving us very well. Whether this is reality or perception is almost irrelevant – the impact is clear to see. For our society and our democracy to function properly, for our society to address the challenges of the 21st century global economy, we cannot continue to go on like this. There is too much at stake. This issue of the Detroiter is devoted to examining how our democracy might be improved. America is still known

as the world’s leader in the experiment that is democracy. We are also the world’s leader in innovation. Perhaps it’s time to marry these signature traits to determine if we can improve the house of democracy that is America – within the foundations of our storied Constitution and longheld values. Innovation requires experimentation. In this issue, we build on the ideas presented at the Chamber’s 2019 Mackinac Policy Conference by former Gehl Foods President and CEO Katherine Gehl and Professor Michael Porter of Harvard Business School. Their groundbreaking work, “Why Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America,” poses important questions. Questions such as: Is the way we conduct elections really leading to the best outcomes that represent the most people? With the largest block of voters identified as independents, why do the Democrat and Republican parties control so much of the voting apparatus? How is our election process leading to greater gridlock and partisanship, particularly in Washington? Equally as important, this issue will examine some experiments that are either underway or could be explored, to help resolve some of these issues. The Detroit Regional Chamber is interested in your feedback. What do you think about the reforms presented by Gehl and Porter? What kind of reforms would you like to see in our voting processes? Tell us at detroitchamber.com/ democracy. We may not agree on everything, but we can all agree that we can do better than this.

SANDY K. BARUAH PRESIDENT AND CEO, DETROIT REGIONAL CHAMBER


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Democracy

TH E H E ALTH AN D FUTURE OF OUR

ON THE WAY TO DIMINISHING PARTISANSHIP

Washington is not broken; it is functioning exactly how it was designed to – keeping the two major parties in power and stomping out the competition – according to former Gehl Foods CEO turned political reform advocate Katherine Gehl, who gave a keynote address with Harvard Business School’s Michael Porter at the 2019 Mackinac Policy Conference. Politicians face the difficult decision between staying loyal to his or her party or compromising on issues in order to “get things done.” Voters are becoming increasingly exhausted by roadblocks in Washington, and the 42% of Americans that identify as independents are frustrated by the two-party system.

Politicians are divided, but voters agree on a multitude of issues. When polled, 65% of Michigan voters say that climate change is a threat to the Great Lakes, 57% support taxpayer-funded free college tuition, and 78% support a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, according to the Michigan 2020 General Election Policy Survey conducted by the Glengariff Group and commissioned by the Detroit Regional Chamber. While voters disagree on health care, they find common ground with mandating coverage for pre-existing conditions, with 92% in support.

HOW CAN GOVERNMENT REFOCUS TO SERVE PEOPLE AND NOT PARTIES?

This issue of the Detroiter will consider political strategies designed to focus on how our democratic system could be reformed – within America’s constitution guide posts and traditions – to better represent the will of the people and lessen the hyper-partisanship that influences public discourse today. Ranked choice voting, where voters rank candidates in order of preference, prevents votes for third party and independent candidates from going to “waste” since they can rank the more popular candidate as their second choice. Open, nonpartisan primaries aim to reduce partisan consideration from the ballot and encourage voters to focus on the person rather than the (R) or (D) by the name. It will also explore local, state and national opinions on these proposed election reforms, and how they have functioned in the states where they have been implemented. While critics argue that these proposed reforms cause more confusion than progress, their implementation sends a message: voters are not happy with the systems in place, and want representatives that will fight for them, not a political party. The one thing that all voters seem to agree with – on the right, left, and center – is that the current process and outcomes leave much to be desired. •

[It] is not

necessarily about changing who gets elected, but about changing what they’re rewarded for doing when they are serving.

KATHERINE GEHL FORMER PRESIDENT AND CEO, GEHL FOODS

Read about Gehl’s political reform ideas on page 10


Executive Summary

&

BY TH E N UMB E RS

4,0 9 3 , 8 2 2

Q A

D E T RO I T R EG I O N, 2019

P ROT E C T I N G T H E G R E AT E S T LE GAC Y

REGISTERED 1 VOTERS

#

3

7

Reps. Debbie Dingell and Fred Upton share why

VOTER REGISTRATION 2 RATE RANK

bipartisanship and a healthy democracy go hand-inhand, and why productivity in Washington requires devotion to countr y over party.

M I C H I GA N, 2016

65%

VOTER TURNOUT

WHY IS DEMOCRACY IMPORTANT AND WHY DO WE NEED TO PROTECT IT?

1

DETROIT REGION, 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

324 M I LL IO N $

TOTA L E L E C T I O N 3 SPENDING

DINGELL:

speech,

UPTON: A democratic form of

freedom of religion, and freedom of

government means that folks are

the press are fundamental pillars of our

afforded the freedom to choose how

democracy and we cannot take them

they’re governed and who leads that

for granted. Leaving the Constitutional

government, and as a result, the power

Convention, Benjamin Franklin was

in a democracy lies with the people. But

asked what kind of government the

President Thomas Jefferson once said,

founders had created. Franklin said,

“The natural progress of things is for

“A republic, if you can keep it.” Our

liberty to yield, and government to gain

democratic republic is founded on the

ground.” Therefore, it’s incumbent

consent of the people; it is dependent

upon each generation to defend our

upon

values, protect our freedoms, and care

the

Freedom

active

of

and

involvement of its citizens.

informed

for our democracy.

MICHIGAN, 2018

Q&A continued on page 8 SOURCES:

1. Michigan Secretary of State 2. MIT Election Data and Science Lab 3. Michigan Campaign Finance Network


8

Executive Summary

&

Q A PROTEC TING THE GRE ATEST LEGAC Y

DEBBIE DINGELL REPRESENTATIVE, D-MI 12TH DISTRICT

HOW CAN VOTERS SEE PAST PARTY LINES WHEN IT COMES TO UNDERSTANDING POLITICAL ISSUES? DINGELL: Compromise isn’t a dirty word. Policy debates aren’t about winners or losers – it’s about making a difference in people’s everyday lives. Voters can – and should – listen to the issues, but you can endorse good policy without having to choose Democrat or Republican. “Getting things done” is hard work, but not as impossible as some would lead you to believe. UPTON: I’ve found that folks here in Michigan don’t much care if you have an ‘R’ or a ‘D’ next to your name. Rather, they just want to see their elected representatives working hard for them and their families to deliver results. I know that in our current divided government at the federal level, both parties must realize that only truly bipartisan bills will get through the Democratic House and Republican Senate and signed by a Republican president. WHAT ARE THE MAJOR FLAWS IN HOW OUR DEMOCRACY IS CURRENTLY WORKING? DINGELL: I am deeply concerned that we are losing a sense of community which

FRED UPTON REPRESENTATIVE, R-MI 6TH DISTRICT

is the strength of democracy. Too often, when there is disagreement, people retreat to their corners surrounded by people who only agree with them and demonize those who have a difference of opinion. I worry that too many hearts are hardening. Democracy requires us to have a strong sense of community and a responsibility to others as part of that and I fear we are losing that. UPTON: We don’t work together like we used to. Politicians are too busy fighting for their party rather than working together for our country. Division dominates our national discourse. Debbie Dingell – a Democrat from the opposite side of the state – is one of my closest friends in Congress, but not many congressmen and women can say that about a member of the other party anymore. We must remember we are Americans first and we are all in this together. THERE ARE EFFORTS TO STRENGTHEN BIPARTISANSHIP ON THE FEDERAL LEVEL LIKE THE PROBLEM SOLVERS C AUCUS. HOW DO VENTURES SUCH AS THIS HELP TO STRENGTHEN DEMOCRACY IN WASHINGTON?

DINGELL: John Dingell always said the best majorities are bipartisan majorities. By working together, we build consensus. Bipartisanship makes democracy stronger. In his farewell address, George Washington warned us of the dangers of political parties that were too strong. People are at the center of democracy. People must always come before partisanship. UPTON: The Problem Solver’s Caucus is a successful, bipartisan group that features an equal number of members from both political parties. It works because we have weekly meetings in Washington, we discuss votes and legislative issues, and we take time to listen to each other and have civil discussions. I’m excited about the prospects of this group and see it as a tool that could help make Congress more effective for the American people. IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE KEY ISSUES IN MICHIGAN THAT VOTERS SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO? DINGELL: Daily, I hear about the fear people have about the rising costs of prescription drugs and health care. I hear uncertainty from hard-working men and women about their jobs and the economy. If the pensions they earned over a lifetime of work are going to be there when they need them. I hear from businesses, young people, and innovators that we need to take action now to address climate change, as well as the safety of our water, protecting the Great Lakes, PFAS, lead poisoning, etc. I’m leading on all these issues because these issues are critical to our state. UPTON: Protecting our Great Lakes, lowering prescription drug costs, providing better care for our veterans, and strengthening our economy are important priorities for the folks of Michigan’s sixth Congressional District. These are also issues that both sides of the aisle can get behind and support. The truth is there is so much more that brings us together than there is that divides us. We should look to common ground and always remember that we are the United States of America. • Melanie Barnett is the editor of Detroiter magazine.


Executive Summary

9

CELEBRATING A MICHIGAN ICON

GOVERNOR BILL MILLIKEN BY G R E TC H E N W H I TM E R , G OV E R N O R , S TAT E O F M I C H I GA N

He taught us that we are Michiganders first, and we must do everything we can to find common ground for the betterment of our state.” - GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER

Gov. Bill Milliken addresses the audience at the 2005 Mackinac Policy Conference.

This year, Michiganders lost a true statesman, a model of bipartisanship, and a Michigan icon who served our people with integrity and honor. In his 14 years of service to our state, Gov. Bill Milliken taught us a number of powerful lessons that leaders everywhere will carry with them for decades. Most importantly, he taught us that our love for Michigan and our commitment to the people who call it home must transcend politics. He taught us that we are Michiganders first, and we must do everything we can to find common ground for the betterment of our state. Gov. Milliken is deservedly known for his commitment to protecting our environment, investing in public education, and preserving jobs in the auto industry. He understood that in Michigan, a strong foundation is built on the preservation of our Great Lakes and fresh water, quality education for our kids, and paths to good jobs for everyone in our state. Now, decades later, these values still hold true. And the paths that we take to meet these goals will define who we are as leaders and as Michiganders, and we must work together to get it done.

In his 2005 Mackinac Policy Conference address, Gov. Milliken said, “in the end, we’re all in this together. This is Michigan we are talking about, a great state that helped build a nation, served as the arsenal of democracy, and is home to some of the most magnificent natural resources on the planet... We go up or down together.”

As I work to navigate today’s divided government and to solve problems for the people of Michigan, Gov. Milliken’s words still ring true. No matter what happens, we are one Michigan, and we go up or down together. I was not only proud to look up to Gov. Milliken as a leader and as a model of the values we must all share as Michiganders, but I was lucky to call him a friend of the Whitmer family. Under Gov. Milliken’s leadership, my father served as director of the Department of Commerce and learned from him many important lessons that he passed down to me and my siblings. We, and people across the state, are better for having learned those lessons. As a public servant and as a lifelong Michigander, I’m proud to have learned from Gov. Milliken, and I know that long after I’m gone, the influence he had on our state will remain intact. • Gretchen Whitmer is the 49th governor of Michigan.


10 Impact

Competitive Advantage: POLITICAL S T R AT E GY THROUGH A BUSINESS LENS By Rene Wisely

Business leader Katherine Gehl believes every healthy business thrives on competition, as do consumers. But one industry is floundering under a duopoly: the U.S. political system. Gehl is so committed to political reform that she sold her $250 million family business to pursue it. She hopes to expand the political marketplace instead of forcing its consumers, the electorate, into its current, and increasingly narrow, two-sizes-fit-all party system: Republican or Democrat. Gehl and economist Michael Porter, a Harvard Business School professor, presented their ideas at the 2019 Mackinac Policy Conference. They’ve since refined them and are writing a book on these strategies that they first fleshed out in a 2017 academic report, Gehl explains.

Business leader Katherine Gehl presents her ideas on political reform at the 2019 Mackinac Policy Conference.


In “The Politics Industry: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy,” due out in May 2020, Gehl and Porter suggest these changes:

MICHIGAN’S VOTE COUNTS Michigan’s voters, particularly its business leaders, are an important part of that change equation.

• Open primaries, where voters need not “These innovations that we propose will declare a party preference. The top five primary vote-getters would advance in a system Gehl and Porter call the “final five voting “ or “top five.”

• Ranked choice voting in general elections, where voters rank candidates in order of choice. This would encourage more candidates, including those usually elbowed aside by party leaders, who fear they will serve as spoilers and help the opposing party.

Gehl cites Colin Powell as an example. If the former secretary of state decided to run as a Republican candidate against President Donald Trump, the party no longer has the power to keep him out of the race. Powell would come in second in the Republican primary, but might win in a ranked choice general election. “Our innovation is not necessarily about changing who gets elected, but about changing what they’re rewarded for doing when they are serving. And that’s what top five primaries and ranked choice voting does,” Gehl adds.

be enacted by individual states,” through legislation and referendums, Gehl says. “The audience for these, for this analysis and this prescription, are people in states across the country, and we have a particular focus on business leaders who resonate so well with this description of the challenge we face because they’re used to this competitive lens.” Gehl expects businesses will be on board because many share the view that Washington is broken and the political machine has halted progress. “It’s fundamentally what I call freemarket politics. And by this, I mean the best of what free markets deliver, which is results, innovation, accountability, healthy competition,” Gehl says. COMPETITION CURES ALL Putting politics under a business microscope is what drew Porter – known for his expertise on strategy, competitiveness, and economic development – into this conversation, he said during his talk at the Mackinac Policy Conference.

O·PEN PRI·MA·RY: (noun) a primary election in which voters are not required to declare party affiliation

RANKED CHOICE VOTING: (noun) an election voting system in which voters rank choices in a hierarchy on the ordinal scale

Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter supports the proposal with data.

“This was the most consequential issue that would really shape the future of our country,” he told the audience. He was aghast to realize that Republicans and Democrats create rules together that protect themselves while discouraging independents from challenging them fairly, what Porter and Gehl dub “barriers to entry.” One instance is in fundraising, he said. The two major parties may receive 313 times the amount an independent may receive in donations, a rule the parties wrote themselves. By restricting competition, Republicans and Democrats create a culture with no incentive to solve problems, no accountability for results, and no checks and balances, Porter said. “This is not going to change unless we change it,” he said. Michigan is ripe for leading the charge, Gehl points out. The Michigan Constitution grants citizens the right to challenge laws they dislike by calling for a voter referendum. Michigan is one of 26 states with such a law. She and Porter are hoping the state is ready to break the partisan gridlock. • Rene Wisely is a metro Detroit-based freelance writer.


12 Impact

Transforming Elections: RANKED CHOICE VOTING By Dawson Bell

There is an election reform that has been quietly making inroads around the country and, in the view of its adherents, may be on the verge of a breakout. It’s called ranked choice (RCV) or instant runoff voting. The concept is relatively straightforward. In elections with three or more candidates, voters – instead of choosing just one – rank candidates by order of preference. If no candidate receives a 50% plus one majority, the last-place finisher is eliminated and his or her ballots are recounted using those voters’ second choice. That process is repeated until the top vote-getter reaches a majority.

The principal virtue of RCV, according to its advocates, is that it provides a path to electoral success for candidates with the broadest appeal to the electorate. In theory, voters can avoid the choice between the “lesser of two evils,” and select their preferred candidate without worrying that their vote will help elect the candidate they most oppose.

12. 5

MILLION U.S. RESIDENTS AND

20

JURISDICTIONS UTILIZE RANKED 1 CHOICE VOTING

SOURCES: 1. FairVote

“RCV allows people to express their real opinion,” says Lansing’s Hugh McNichol IV of Rank MI Vote, an election reform organization that promotes ranked choice in municipal elections and is laying the groundwork for a 2022 referendum that could install RCV for state and federal elections in Michigan.

ranked choice, a decision agreed to by the city in response to a federal voting rights complaint that minorities were unfairly shut out by traditional elections. The concept is also under active consideration in both Ann Arbor and Lansing. Lisa Disch, a professor of political science at the University of Michigan, says RCV is “not particularly complicated; we all know how to rank things.” But it does impose a modest burden on voters to educate themselves about more than two candidates, she says, “and a lot of voters don’t have time for that.” An additional obstacle, Disch says, is that ordinary citizens don’t have widespread awareness of the problem RCV is intended to address. Unlike the anti-gerrymandering referendum approved by Michigan voters in 2018, most people haven’t thought very deeply about why they are so often asked to choose between candidates they don’t particularly like, she says. RCV also often faces practical objections. In Ferndale municipal elections, for instance, RCV has been technically legal for more than a decade. But it has never been implemented because the voting machine technology was unavailable. Additionally, the process of conducting an “instant” runoff under RCV can be both time-consuming and expensive.

McNichol says RCV would reduce the insidious influence of polls which shape voters’ perception of which candidates are viable, and which are spoilers that contribute to elections coming down to a binary choice between undesirable outcomes.

McNichol says most of the opposition to RCV is partisan and depends on which party perceives a disadvantage in a specific election. McNichol says advocates of RCV don’t care.

Michigan’s first experiment with contemporary RCV came in November in Eastpointe, where two of five city council members were to be elected using

Dawson Bell is a veteran Michigan journalist who spent 25 years covering government and politics for the Detroit Free Press.

“It’s not partisan. That’s the point.” •


HOW DOES RANKED CHOICE WORK? ROUND ONE 10 0 VOT E S Beth

Brad

Katie

Nick

Kelly

40

19

15

12

14

40%

19%

15%

12%

14%

Nick, the last place candidate, is eliminated and his votes are allocated to the voters’ second-choice pick.

ROUND T WO

ROUND THREE

1 voter assigned no second choice

3 voters assigned no second choice

99 VOTES

N i c k ’s v o t e s reassigned

+7

96 VOTES

+3

+1

+1

+9

K e l l y ’s v o t e s reassigned

+2

Beth 40

Brad 26

Katie 18

Kelly 15

Beth 41

Brad 35

Katie 20

40%

26%

18%

15%

43%

36%

21%

Kelly is eliminated and the voters’ third-choice picks are assigned.

Katie is in last place and eliminated. Her voters decide the outcome with their last place picks.

E

IC

CH

4

1

2

3

4

5

BRAD

2

3

4

5

NIC K

1 1

2

3

4

5

KATIE

2

3

4

5

KELLY

1

2N

O

E

IC

5 TH

3

3 RD

2

D

BETH

1

5

1 ST

4 TH

CH

O

E

IC

O

E

IC

O

CH

CH

CH

O

IC

E

LLOT A B E L P EXAM

FINAL ROUND 5 votes had neither remaining K a t i e ’s v o t e s reassigned

91 VOT E S +4

+ 11

Beth 45

Brad 46

49%

51%

Beth is eliminated and Brad wins the election.


14 Impact

RANKED CHOICE VOTING IN AC TION: By Dawson Bell

For most of the country, ranked choice voting — allowing voters to rank the candidates in order of preference in multicandidate races — is a rarity, confined to scattered municipal elections from California to Massachusetts. With one significant exception — the state of Maine. Mainers have twice approved referenda to adopt RCV for state and federal offices. In 2018, it was used for the first time in congressional races, where the representative who received the highest number of votes in the first round was defeated by a challenger after two thirdparty candidates were disqualified and their voters’ second choices tallied. In 2020, the state will be the first in the nation to use ranked choice (or instant runoff) voting in its presidential election. But the transition in Maine has been anything but seamless, with multiple legal and legislative challenges. The Maine Supreme Court has opined that RCV could violate the state constitution for state offices. Most public opinion polling in the state nevertheless suggests that voters continue to support the practice.

For now, until changes to the state constitution can be made, voters will not use RCV to elect a governor, despite the succession of governors elected by modest pluralities that may be part of the reason Maine voters got behind RCV in the first place. Support for ranked choice in Maine is also divided along partisan lines, with Democrats embracing the concept and Republicans mostly opposed. Gordon Weil, a veteran journalist and Democrat who headed several Maine state agencies, says the Republicans, in this instance, are right. Ranked choice voting promises what it can’t deliver, an election winner supported by a majority of voters, he says. RCV is “a gimmick...a game show election,” he says. “In real elections, there is no such thing as a second choice. The second choice occurs when you have a second election.”

Maine Backers of Maine’s experiment with RCV argue that the instant runoff is a feature, not a bug, thereby avoiding a sharp decline in voter turnout, says Drew Penrose, the law and policy director of FairVote, a vocal proponent of RCV in Maine. Of course, even in an instant runoff election, some level of turnout decline occurs, as some voters decline to make a second choice. Penrose says that the number of voters opting not to select a second choice has been modest. Some research suggests, however, that the phenomenon of “voter exhaustion” in RCV elections is significant enough to regularly result in a winner selected by less than a majority, something RCV is specifically intended to avoid. Weil says voters in other jurisdictions contemplating ranked choice should view it with a gimlet eye. RCV is complicated, expensive to implement and “not all that instant,” he says. • Dawson Bell is a veteran Michigan journalist who spent 25 years covering government and politics for the Detroit Free Press.


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16 Impact

Ranked Choice Voting

AND THE DETROIT REGION By Greg Tasker and Dawson Bell

RANKED CHOICE VOTING’S UPHILL BATTLE IN FERNDALE

THE CASE FOR ELECTION REFORM IN EASTPOINTE The November municipal election in Eastpointe, a suburb that shares 8 Mile Road as a border with Detroit, was one for the history books. Not only did the working-class Macomb County community elect its first black mayor, Monique Owens, but the city also implemented, for the first time, ranked choice voting. Instead of voting for candidates at large, voters ranked the four candidates running for two open city council seats. Voters ranked as many of the candidates as they liked, in order of preference, from one through four. Winners were required to earn slightly more than 33.3% of the votes. Choosing the winner can sometimes go into multiple rounds of tallying. Eastpointe, the only Michigan city currently using ranked choice voting, has implemented the practice as a result of a lawsuit settlement with the U.S. Justice Department. The lawsuit filed with the City of Eastpointe in 2017 alleged that their method of election at the time allowed black citizens in Eastpointe less opportunity than white citizens to have

a voice in the political process, which violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Black residents, who make up 40% of Eastpointe’s population, have been historically underrepresented in city government. Owens, a community activist and a deputy with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, was elected without ranked choice voting. The mayor’s race was held with at-large voting since ranked choice voting was not required for the mayoral election under the settlement. Owens was elected as the city’s first black council member two years ago. Harvey Curley, a former Eastpointe mayor and city council member, was among the two winners in the most recent election under ranked choice voting. Although elated at regaining office after a 19year hiatus, Curley concedes the voting procedure was confusing for many in the city of about 34,000 residents. Ryan Cotton, the city’s interim manager, says some residents expressed dissatisfaction with the new voting procedure and the government imposing it on the city. Others, he says, found “pride in their community being the first in the state to do this new process.”

Along with voter apprehension, ranked choice voting also faces technical and legal hurdles in another city in Michigan. In Ferndale, voters approved its use for municipal elections in 2004. Yet ranked choice has never been implemented there, initially because voting technology couldn’t properly tabulate ranked choice votes, and more recently because state officials believe the method violates state election law. Ferndale Clerk Marne McGrath says the issue may have lost some urgency because there have been fewer candidates in Ferndale in the years since the referendum, but she believes city voters continue to support the idea. “It’s been frustrating,” she says. “I think our voters still want it. I’m hoping maybe we can [for municipal elections] in 2021.” An analysis by the state Bureau of Elections Director Sally Williams finds that because Michigan state law was drafted under the assumption of winner-take-all elections, widespread adoption is problematic. “Ideally, the Michigan Election Law would be amended to establish detailed procedures for conducting city elections using the ranked choice voting method [before 2021],” Williams writes. • Greg Tasker is a Michigan-based freelance writer. Dawson Bell is a veteran Michigan journalist who spent 25 years covering government and politics for the Detroit Free Press.


1

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2

Share messages promoting the census with customers.

3

Promote the impact of the census using social and digital media through company communication channels.

4 5

Use your platform to debunk false information. Engage in local, regional, and statewide efforts.


18 Impact

Freedom of Choice: Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and University of Kentucky Law Professor and author Joshua Douglas speak together about voting rights and participation at the University of Michigan.

In a system where you have a closed lowturnout primary that decides the nominees, the most polarized people tend to vote in primaries and you have more extreme candidates on either side winning their general election.They have less ability to compromise.” JOSHUA DOUGLAS LAW PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY

N O N PA R T I SA N PRIM ARY ELECTIONS

Rising concern about America’s polarized politics has prompted many U.S. states to make changes in how primary elections are conducted, leading to confusing terminology about the various voting systems. Michigan is one of 20 states that use an “open partisan primary” in which any voter can choose to participate in the party primary of his or her choice for congressional and state-level offices. Seventeen states use a closed primary system in which only registered party members can participate in the nomination of party candidates. Ten states have some form of a hybrid partisan system between open and closed, while California and Washington state have nonpartisan “top-two” primaries where all candidates appear on the same ballot and the top two vote-getters – regardless of party affiliation – advance to the general election. Louisiana has a socalled “jungle primary” on the same day as a general election, followed by a runoff of the top two finishers if no candidate gets 50% or more of the vote.

By Tom Walsh

In Michigan, people need not select which party’s primary to vote in until election day, but each party’s candidates are in a separate column on the ballot. The Democratic, Republican, and Libertarian parties all fielded slates in 2018 – and voting in more than one invalidates the ballot. Proponents of open primaries say they boost voter participation by not excluding people who don’t want partisan labels, and who are more likely to vote for moderate candidates rather than ideological extremes. Opponents, however, say closed primaries provide more incentive to formally join the political process and become more involved in the voting process. Joshua Douglas, a University of Kentucky law professor and author of a new book “Vote for the US: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future,” favors open over closed primaries. “In a system where you have a closed low-turnout primary that decides the nominees, the most polarized people tend


Impact 19 to vote in primaries and you have more extreme candidates on either side winning their general elections.,” Douglas says. “They have less ability to compromise.”

Republicans, in a traditionally Democratic district, advanced to the general election because the Democratic vote was split up among more people.

That said, he understands the motivation of closed-primary proponents.

Nationwide, a major factor driving efforts to change primary voting rules is the bloc of independent voters, unaffiliated with either of the two major parties.

The major parties, he says, “want to be able to control the process and select who they want. Especially in places where one party has much more control, they’re very resistant to allowing independents or the opposite party to choose who moves on to a general election.” That’s what happened in 2012, for example, in a California district when six candidates for U.S. Congress – four Democrats and two Republicans – faced off on an open primary ballot. The two

“I’ve been an unaffiliated voter my entire career, so I’ve been a staunch advocate for primary reform,” says Amber McReynolds, former elections director in Denver, and now executive director for the National Vote at Home Institute. “The traditional way of segmenting voters doesn’t work like it used to. More Americans are identifying as independent,” she adds. “I think the other issue is that

all taxpayers, regardless of your political persuasion, pay for these elections. So, if the parties want to exclude people then they should foot the bill for the election. That’s why Washington and California and a lot of western states have opened up their primaries and have not required party registration.” That said, McReynolds does see pitfalls to the top-two primary system and is interested in exploring other variations such as a top-three or top-four combined with ranked choice voting – “something other than whoever has the most money and can get on TV the most will be the top two.” • Tom Walsh is a former Detroit Free Press business editor and columnist.

State Primar y Elec tion Systems

CLOSED

Only per tains to state, local, and congressional elec tions. Does not apply to presidential elec tions.

Voters must be registered members of the party holding the primary.

PARTIALLY CLOSED

Voters must be registered members of the party holding the primary; however, parties may choose each election whether to allow unaffiliated voters to participate.

OPEN

Voters may choose which primary to vote in privately. The choice does not register the voter with the party.

PARTIALLY OPEN

Voters may choose which primary to vote in, but must either do so publicly or their vote may be regarded as a form of registration with that party.

OPEN TO UNAFFILIATED VOTERS Unaffiliated voters may choose which party primary they want to vote in, but voters affiliated with other parties may not cross over.

TOP-TWO

The top two vote-getters advance to the general election regardless of party.

SOURCE: National Conference of State Legislature


20 Impact

N O N PA R T I SA N PRIMARIES IN ACTION:

California By Tom Walsh

Arnold Schwarzenegger, California’s governor back in June 2010, was an enthusiastic backer of Proposition 14 on that year’s state ballot that created what came to be known as the “top-two primary.” In this nonpartisan system for state and local elections, all candidates and voters are listed on the same ballot. The top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the general election. Prop 14 became law with only 53.7% of the vote and was opposed by many in the entrenched major parties, Republicans and Democrats alike. But it has survived ever since, along with a similar system in Washington state. Today, the pros and cons of top-two remain a topic of spirited debate in election circles. Top-two supporters say it boosts voter participation, bringing independent and nonpartisan voters into the nominating process, along with more moderate views and a willingness to compromise. Critics, though, say a political party’s members should be the ones nominating their standard-bearer. Pollster John Nienstedt wrote in a San Diego Tribune op-ed last year that Prop 14 was “essentially the defeat of reason in an

effort to manufacture the mythical state of Moderate-land.” Richard Winger, a lifelong Californian and publisher, and editor of Ballot Access News, notes that occasionally open primaries result in two top vote-getters from the same party facing off against each other in the general election – but many voters then leave the ballot blank rather than vote for a person of the opposite party. “There’s something wrong with a ballot that brings people to the polls and then the voting people leave it blank,” Winger says. The top-two system also harms third parties, Winger adds, noting that last year California was one of only four states where voters could not vote for a third party for statewide office. Washington, Alabama, and Maine were the others. Michigan secretary of state Jocelyn Benson says she is “a little bit agnostic” on top-two. While the nonpartisan ballot may attract more independent voters, Benson says many voters do look to party affiliation in determining who to support, particularly low-interest voters.

Schwarzenegger, meanwhile, continues to sing the praises of California’s top-two primary. In a 2018 op-ed published in several newspapers, the Republican ex-governor and Ro Khanna, a Democrat and California congressman, noted that then U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy had said “I hate the top-two” – and that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called California’s top-two system “not a reform. It is terrible.” “Their bipartisan response should tell you everything you need to know: Political parties hate top-two, so voters should love it,” Schwarzenegger and Khanna wrote. “If incumbents win in top-two, voters can have more confidence that it’s because they took on all the contenders, and faced all the voters, rather than pandering to their base,” they added. “From immigration reform to pro-growth economic policies, our state legislature is addressing issues that Congress and most states won’t touch.” • Tom Walsh is a former Detroit Free Press business editor and columnist.


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PUNDIT ROU N DTA B LE :

SARAH HUBBARD PRINCIPAL, ACUITAS

Political Innovations and Michigan Political strategists Katherine Gehl and Michael Porter claim that America’s political system is structured to serve the interests of the Democratic and Republican Parties, not the voters. They propose changing the way America elects politicians to eliminate party from the equation.

JOHN SELLEK FOUNDER AND CEO, HARBOR STRATEGIC PUBLIC AFFAIRS

Detroiter hosted a roundtable convening four Michigan-based political pundits in Lansing to dissect the possible implications of Gehl and Porter’s proposed changes to elections – ranked choice voting and open, nonpartisan primaries. At the table was John Sellek, founder and CEO of Harbor Strategic Public Affairs; Adrian Hemond, partner and CEO of the public affairs firm Grassroots Midwest; and Sarah Hubbard, principal at the government affairs and creative firm Acuitas. Brad Williams, vice president of government relations at the Detroit Regional Chamber, moderated the hour-long discussion on the political innovation being implemented around the country and the politics of elections.

ADRIAN HEMOND PARTNER AND CEO, GRASSROOTS MIDWEST

BRAD WILLIAMS VICE PRESIDENT, GOVERNMENT RELATIONS, DETROIT REGIONAL CHAMBER

BW: First of all, I want to start out by asking you this question. Is our system actually broken? Is our government not working, or is there actually hope that we could work within the system that we have to solve these problems? SH: I can see why some people would think it’s broken, but I can’t think of a better way to do it. I do believe that our system is the best and that has resulted in a robust exchange of ideas, freedom of speech, elections that do vary. We elect Republicans and Democrats in our regular back and forth way over the years. Before we had President Trump, we had President Obama. I don’t necessarily buy into the fact that our entire system is broken, but I’m not fundamentally opposed to the idea that there are always opportunities to look at improvements. I’m certainly happy to talk about the premise, but I don’t come at it that a dictatorship, for instance, is better.

BW: That’s a real hot take, Sarah, not being pro-dictatorship. JS: I’ve always seen Sarah as a dictator. SH: I’d love to do it if anybody would elect me. [Everyone laughs.] JS: Things may move slowly and messily, but they keep us all very busy here in Lansing or Washington. And that means that not too many people are sitting around thinking long-term what are some of the changes that can be made. And the changes that these two proposed are pretty intense. They would be a big switch. Now they are starting to happen in certain parts of the country. They are a result of people being frustrated with our institutions of government right now and I think we need to move cautiously.


Impact 23

AH: I’m going to completely disagree end up with a general election that is still with both of you about this. Our electoral essentially split by partisanship. system and the structure under which we’re governed under the U.S. Constitution AH: I want to follow up on something that [were] built for an 18th century agrarian you said about the potential for confusion society and a very homogenous one at the ballot because... it points to a broader where women and brown people didn’t vote. The electorate was essentially white dudes. And historically, if you look at simple plurality elections, which is what we have virtually everywhere in America, those only really work SH in exceptionally homogenous I don’t necessarily buy into societies, and you’re starting to the fact that our entire system is see some of the breakdown in broken, but I’m not fundamentally that in other societies, as they opposed to the idea that there become more diverse. As Great are always opportunities to look at improvements. Britain continues to get more diverse, you’re starting to see a breakdown in their political system on that basis as well. BW: I am so excited that we got into British elections... [Laughs.] I thought we were going to get into the weeds, I didn’t think we’d get in this deep, this quickly. I wonder, though, if we get into an election where there’s not one Republican and one Democrat, are we going to be able to effectively discern who stands for what?

you know nothing about politics and you feel compelled to vote for some reason, well, the D or the R next to a person’s name gives you a decent idea of, well, this person’s probably closer to me, so I’ll flop for them. There’s certainly an argument that the voters shouldn’t be challenged any further cause they can’t handle what they’ve got. But I’m not too sympathetic to that argument.

JS

The [proposed changes] are a result of people being frustrated with our institutions of government right now and I think we need to move cautiously.

AH

JS: When you look at the list of places where [ranked choice voting] has been instituted, it’s in urban areas, it’s in cities. For example, in New York City, we’re not really talking about much of a partisan divide. We’re really just ranging from Democrat to communist with socialists and a couple of other things in between. It becomes very difficult to differentiate between all those folks. If we applied this open primary and then ranked choice voting to Michigan’s 2018 governor’s race – money and name ID are going to be the first considerations. We’d probably see more people jumping into the primary. I don’t think that they would have an effect on winning. So you could

I’m going to disagree with both of you. If you look at simple plurality elections, which is what we have virtually everywhere in America, those only really work in exceptionally homogenous societies...

sort of problem that neither ranked choice voting or jungle primaries really solves, which is the utter ignorance of the American electorate. Structural reforms that you make are not going to cure that problem. The American electorate, by and large, does not have a clue [where] most of these people stand on policy, it’s why the partisan heuristic is so important, right? If

SH: Detroit used to be electing city council all at large, and in the primary, you’d have hundreds of people on the ballot. In the general [election] you would pick the top four, depending on the cycle. There would be candidates who would run campaigns for plunking – “don’t vote for four, just vote for one,” which is not that different from what [Katherine Gehl] is suggesting because if you plunk, that would have a very similar effect to the ranking because, in effect, you’re not voting for those other three. You’re putting all your eggs in one. Is it just that [she] wants to do it on a larger scale rather than [individual] cities? I would think that still happens in a lot of big cities around the country where again, there’s not really any parts in differentiation. So, is there anything new in Hollywood?

JS: When I was a kid and I made a list of my top 10 Christmas presents, if I ended up with number four, I really wasn’t that happy. The idea that this will make everybody feel whole, who normally felt disenfranchised or frustrated or mad about who they were having to vote for, it’s not the reality. I don’t think we’ll meet the dreamscape that’s being painted on that front. I don’t think they’ll be happy. I think [voters will] be less unhappy. Nobody’s ever happy in politics. Conversation continues on page 24.


24 Impact

When I was a kid and I made a list of my top ten Christmas presents, if I ended up with number four, I really wasn’t that happy.

Roundtable participants gather at Acuitas in Lansing for candid conversation.

BW: A few years back, I was at a dinner with Debbie Dingell, Congresswoman from Dearborn, and this topic came up. Her fear was that if we move to a system like this where we have an open [nonpartisan] primary system, it would neuter the ability of political parties to have any sort of influence in the state. Is that a bad thing? If in fact that is true, and I think maybe it is, does the endorsement of the democratic socialists of America all of a sudden become something that is more coveted on the left?

On the right, [does] the endorsement of the tea party become more coveted? SH: So you want to build a coalition government? BW: I guess that’s what I’m asking, right? SH: Is that where it takes us? I’d say, does the party matter at that point? Well, I think you’d see a lot of candidates trying to change their middle name to Republican or Democrat so it’s clear to the voters what

Listen to the full dialouge at WWW.DETROITER.ORG Share your thoughts on facebook @detroitchamber

JS

their party is. I think you’d also see parties still communicate to their voters on who their preferred candidate is. So, parties would continue to matter. I think people are looking for something better by changing how people are elected or [by] changing governance. And I’m a strong believer that a change in governance by itself or a change in process by itself doesn’t change what people fundamentally think. AH: When you create unwinnable districts, people just start to check out, right? That’s what you see from partisans in these extremely safe districts in Michigan right now where when you’re electing a single member, you’re electing people based purely on the partisan heuristic and who they are. There are a whole bunch of people that know their vote doesn’t matter and they behave accordingly. The argument that I think these folks are trying to make is that you’re never going to get citizens to engage, to try to see the changes that they want to see in their government if they know that their vote doesn’t matter. JS: At least up until the current president, parties performed an important structure of filtering out and easing off on the extreme. Wildcard candidates couldn’t make it through if a well-organized party, whether it was at the county level, the state level, or the national level handled that. That’s why we had presidents like George W. Bush after we had the first George Bush and so on. What this proposal seeks to do is to blame the party structure for progress, quote unquote, being hamstrung. BW: I want to transition now to a “whatif ” scenario. If we look back just two years ago... we had a primary election. The 13th


Congressional District, that is primarily the city of Detroit, but also including some downriver suburbs, currently held by Rashida Tlaib. Is there a possibility that the general election would have been different [with ranked choice]? AH: I think it’s virtually impossible that she could have won [with ranked choice]. If you’re a Republican in that district, in the general election, under the current electoral system, your vote does not matter. If you have a choice of Rashida Tlaib, Brenda Jones, and Bill Wild, hey — that’s a choice. I’m a Democrat and I wouldn’t have voted for Rashida in that situation. I don’t know any Republicans that would have – you probably plunked for Bill Wild or Brenda Jones as the least-worst option. And functionally, from the perspective of a conservative, you’re absolutely correct. [Are] either of those people going to be a conservative in Congress? No, but they’re going to be a lot more conservative than Rashida.

JS: I’m not necessarily advocating for it, but something that would expand voter involvement in the way that we select our officials here...the nominating convention process, at least for the secretary of state and the attorney general, could be put out as primaries. We do it above them, but then all of our state senators and state representatives are all done at primaries and they’re going to have wider audiences. So that would be something more immediate that can be done here, or at least debated. AH: I think it’s a capital idea as long as the parties have to pay for them along with all the other ones. I don’t have a problem with partisan primaries under our current electoral system, they make all the sense in the world. I just have a problem with taxpayers being owed for it. • Melanie Barnett is the editor of Detroiter magazine. This converstaion has been edited for length and clarity.

The argument that I think these folks are trying to make is that you’re never going to get citizens to engage, to try to see the changes that they want to see in their government if they know that their vote doesn’t matter.

AH

JS: I think [ranked choice] doesn’t anticipate what would happen as you got into agenda – SH: How they throw it at each other. JS: Right. Could the others get so annoyed with number one that they bind together to cut a deal...? SH: Or could number one cut a deal with the others so that they go away? The premise of what [Katherine Gehl and Michael Porter], are saying is the system is broken and this is the solution to fixing it. I don’t know how anybody could agree that that’s true. Their fix makes this more complicated, way less predictable. AH: Each voter’s ranking the candidates one through four on their individual ballot. The people who prefer Rashida number one are going to put Rashida down as number one, and the people who don’t are going to put somebody else as number one. Whoever comes in fourth place gets knocked off and all of their secondchoice votes get a word in their first. The coordination between campaigns [doesn’t matter] all that much.

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Voting

“If democracy is defined as the consent of the governed who vote in elections and elect officials to make decisions for them, it’s essential to get the maximum amount of participation in the democracy,” says former Republican state legislator Bill Ballenger. “You want everybody who’s eligible to vote to be able to vote.”

THROUGHOUT HISTORY By Melanie Barnett

Voting is arguably the most important system for practicing democracy in the U.S. The process of voting is meant to select representatives most favored by voters. This makes the method of counting votes significant in ensuring accuracy. The electorate itself is important — when groups in the U.S. are not permitted to vote, they cannot elect representatives who will fight for them.

The electorate looks a lot different today than it did in the later 18th century when only around 6% of the population was eligible to vote: white men older than 21 who owned land. And just like the electorate has expanded, so has the ways in which America votes. In Michigan, voting is now more accessible than ever before. Same-day registration is now allowed in Michigan, and people can now vote absentee for any reason.

Woman suffrage headquarters in Upper Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, 1912.

1920

1924 The Indian Citizenship Act grants Native Americans citizenship and the right to vote.

The 19th amendment grants women the right to vote, although discriminatory tactics still prevent many women of color from voting.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965 while Martin Luther King Jr. and others look on.

1965

Voting Rights Act of 1965 is implemented to protect voter registration and voting rights for racial minorities. President George W. Bush signs H.R. 3295, Help America Vote Act of 2002.

1971

The age requirement for voting is amended from 21 to 18.


Impact 27 “Same day registration to vote, in other words somebody can walk in on election day who has never been registered to vote before, they can register to vote and vote,” says Ballenger. “That’s never been possible in the state of Michigan. These are huge changes.”

Massachusetts is the first state to elect its governor using paper ballots.

State legislatures facilitate voting for those eligible: white men age 21 and older who own land.

1634

1776

On opposite sides of the country – in Maine and California – controversial changes in voting are making waves. Ranked choice voting in Maine and top-two primaries in California are both designed to elect more moderate politicians that appeal to a wider range of voters. The future of voting in the U.S. is unpredictable, but a look back on the past reveals that the nation has come a long way in how citizens select their elected officials. •

1788

Melanie Barnett is the editor of Detroiter magazine.

Electoral college is established to elect the president of the United States.

1896

1870

39 out of 45 states use secret ballots, first implemented in Australia, which are printed by the government and marked by voters in secret. This major change revolutionizes how we vote today.

The 15th amendment gives black men the right to vote. States implement literacy tests and poll taxes among other methods to prevent the amendment from taking effect.

2000

2011

2016

2019

Hanging chad controversy during the George W. Bush vs. Al Gore presidential election leads to the Helping America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) which eliminates nearly all punch-card and lever-based voting methods

California replaces traditional party primaries with a toptwo primary system. The two candidates who receive the most votes in the primary move on to the general election, regardless of party.

Maine becomes first to adopt ranked choice voting statewide and implements it in 2018. Voters rank candidates in order of preference instead of only choosing one.

New York City adopts ranked choice voting to be implemented in 2021.


28 Perception

The Opposition: I S A M E R I C A’S VO T I N G

SYSTEM BEST LEF T ALONE? By Greg Tasker

Everyone agrees voting in municipal, state, and federal elections, should be simple, convenient, and fair. And while there is a growing chorus of voices across the country advocating for election reforms including ranked choice voting (aka instant runoff) and nonpartisan open primaries, there is also widespread support to retain the status quo. Plurality voting, the most common form of voting in the United States, is easy to understand and the winner is clear cut. Each voter casts one vote, for only one candidate. The candidate with the most votes wins. Reform advocates believe alternative methods offer voters a broader choice of candidates, a stronger voice in the election process, are more inclusive, and put a greater focus on issues rather than personalities. Among the frequent complaints about plurality voting are the negative impacts of gerrymandering, where districts are drawn to favor one political party over the other; the spoiler effect, limiting the number of candidates to ensure one party winner; and the constant barrage of negativity espoused by candidates in local, state, and national elections. One of the biggest positives of the current election system is that it is secret and it

is the simplest for voters, advocates say. When a vote is cast, that choice is not transferable or manipulated. There is no second or third round of tallying and no run-off election. This system elects the

The biggest problem with ranked choice voting is ballot exhaustion.” HANS VON SPAKOVSKY SENIOR LEGAL FELLOW, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION’S MEESE CENTER FOR LEGAL AND JUDICIAL STUDIES

candidate with the largest number of votes – period. “The biggest problem with ranked choice voting is ballot exhaustion,” says Hans von Spakovksy, a senior legal fellow in

The Heritage Foundation’s Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and a former member of the Federal Election Commision. He shared this example: In a race with five candidates, a voter, for whatever reasons, may rank only two candidates and ignore the others. But if a voter’s two ranked candidates are eliminated in the first two rounds of tallying, those ballots are finished. The voter has no say in who is chosen from the remaining rounds of tallying. “This ballot exhaustion leads to the election of candidates who are not the first choice of the majority of voters,” he says, adding that the winner has only won a majority of whatever votes were left in the final round of tabulation. While California’s election reform has, implementing the top-two primary system, alleviated some concerns that surface in plurality voting – the lack of opportunity for third parties and independents – it’s unclear whether the system itself has enabled minorities to achieve better representation too, says Eric McGhee, a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California. Better minority representation, he says, has instead come because of California’s changing population demographics and recent reform in creating electoral districts. “It certainly gives outside candidates a second bite of the apple,” he says, referring to the opportunity a second-place vote-getter in the primary could have to beat the lead in the followup general election. • Greg Tasker is a Michigan-based freelance writer.


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30 Perception

WHE N IT’S RE PUBLIC ANS VS . D E MO C R AT S ,

Independents Lose By Richard Czuba

Michiganders are more divided than we’ve ever been. How many times have we been told that?

But after polling Michigan for the past 35 years, the numbers say Michiganders are no more and no less divided than we always have been. On a wide array of issues, there is broad agreement: Bring new jobs. Support local schools. Protect the Great Lakes and our outdoors. Balance existing health care while helping the most vulnerable. Make sure everyone gets an equal shot. Stay out of other people’s business. And keep taxes affordable. Michigan voters know the roads stink, but they can’t agree on how to pay to fix them. And everyone is suspicious about where the lottery money goes. So why do both parties often seem so disconnected from the majority of voters? Because when it comes to the Republican versus Democratic game of ideas, the referee doesn’t show up until after halftime.

...when it comes to the Republican versus

The divide between Republicans and Democrats in Michigan is bridged by the nearly 25% of voters who classify themselves as pure independent voters. And in Michigan, independents are the referees. Where these independents go is where Michigan goes.

Democratic

But most independent voters skip the August primary, preferring not to pull a partisan ballot. Older voters and the hardest base of each party show up to select our leaders. Only 17% to 24% of Michigan voters cast a ballot in an August primary. In 2018, that number shot up to 28%. But you get the idea when three out of four Michigan voters don’t decide who moves on to a general election.

the referee

Most legislative seats are harshly gerrymandered with election outcomes decided in August, not November. With few independent voters involved in primary elections, you understand why officials only focus on what partisan primary voters think. In most legislative races, the primary is the entire ballgame. To stay in office, you keep those voters happy. How do we start to change that? One step is Michigan’s redistricting experiment that voters approved in 2018 potentially resulting in far more competitive districts in November. Second, move the August primary out of Michigan’s vacation season, perhaps into May, to increase voter participation. But most importantly, independents need to show up for primary elections and vote. If you don’t like the extremes and division, then cast a primary ballot when decisions get made. Michigan voters aren’t that divided on the issues when you look at the broad spectrum of voters. But if independent voters want to make sure the state takes a less divided path, they should show up and vote in August when leadership decisions are made. Otherwise, it’s Republicans vs Democrats, and the independent referees don’t show up until after halftime. • Richard Czuba is CEO of the survey research firm Glengariff Group, Inc.

game of ideas, doesn’t show up until after halftime.”

RICHARD CZUBA CEO, GLENGARRIF GROUP, INC.


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Securing

OUR ELECTIONS

A CONVERSATION WITH MIC HIGAN’S SECRETARY OF S TATE By Rick Haglund

The way America votes is radically changing in cities and states around the country. Innovative methods of voting are impacting elections, from ranked choice voting in Maine to top-two primaries in California, changing the way voters select candidates for the purpose of reducing the role of political parties in elections and increasing the potential for more moderate candidates to be elected. The Detroiter spoke with Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to get her views on election reforms and security as the 2020 presidential election moves closer. WHAT IS YOUR VIEW OF RANKED CHOICE VOTING? DO YOU THINK IT WOULD BE GOOD FOR MICHIGAN? JB: Well, there certainly seems to be an interest in some parts of the state at the local level in exploring that reform. I think Ferndale and a couple of other localities are looking at it. But there’s not a whole lot of data that ranked choice voting increases turnout. There’s not a whole lot of data, at least that I’ve seen, that voters throughout the state want to see this reform in place. But I think if I saw that data, in either regard, then I would be inclined to see it as a good thing for Michigan. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON OPEN PRIMARIES? JB: I think looking at states like California, it does potentially help in a district or a state that typically leans towards one party or the other. It’s not clear to me whether or not [Michigan] voters would see this as a convenient reform. It certainly has worked in other states and has been embraced in other states like California and Louisiana. WHAT MEASURES ARE YOU TAKING TO ADDRESS CONCERNS ABOUT ELECTION SECURITY IN THE UPCOMING 2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION? JB: We’ve taken the issue of election security extremely seriously. I created a task force on election security, the first of our kind in Michigan, bringing together experts from around the country from the Department of Homeland Security and elsewhere to advise us on what we need to do in Michigan, and what we can do in order to be at the top level of secure elections. [And] we’ve hired the state’s first-ever director of election security. WHAT MORE DO WE NEED TO DO TO INCREASE TRANSPARENCY, ETHICS, AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN OUR ELECTION PROCESS? JB: Well, certainly Michigan has been consistently ranked last by the Center for Public Integrity for our ethics and transparency laws. One, we don’t require our lawmakers to disclose their personal finances, so we can’t ascertain as the public – or as the electorate – as to whether or not our representatives are financially benefiting from the votes they take or being financially incentivized to make certain votes. Number two, we need to expand the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to cover the governor and the legislature so that, again, citizens have access to basic information about the decisions being made that affect them every day. Then, I do think we need to reform our lobbying rules to ensure more transparency. •

JOCELYN BENSON SECRETARY OF STATE, STATE OF MICHIGAN

Rick Haglund is a former reporter and business columnist for Booth Newspapers, now the MLive Media Group. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


Perception 33

MIC HIGAN FREEDOM FUND:

We want to make sure that when these changes do take place that they’re done fairly and transparently.” TONY DAUNT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MICHIGAN FREEDOM FUND

Protect the Vote

By Melissa Anders

When it comes to changing the way Michigan runs elections, Tony Daunt takes a cautious stance. Daunt is the executive director of Michigan Freedom Fund, a conservative nonprofit that seeks to protect constitutional rights. The group continues to fight Proposal 2, the ballot initiative passed in 2018 that gives a 13-member citizen commission the power to draw election district boundaries instead of state lawmakers. He says it’s “fundamentally unfair” to prohibit people from serving on the commission if they or their immediate family member has served in certain political roles in the last six years. He’s also skeptical of other ideas or efforts to adjust election processes, such as open primaries, ranked-choice voting, same-day voter registration, and noexcuse absentee voting. “We should be very careful [about] making rash or quick changes, or any changes at all to how we handle our elections

because of the potential for unintended consequences, and having some deference for the system as it is set up that has served us well,” he says.

such as requiring photo identification and allowing witnesses at polling locations to monitor absentee counts and how the voting and tallying is going.

Michigan currently does not allow nonpartisan open primaries, and Daunt fears changing that would weaken democracy and sensible governance. Primary elections and choosing the standard-bearer for a political party is best left to the party, he says.

For now, Michigan Freedom Fund is focused on monitoring recent changes to the state’s election system, including Proposal 2 as well as Proposal 3, which allows straight-ticket voting, same-day voter registration, and no-reason absentee voting, among other changes. Daunt argues that same-day registration can make it easier for voter fraud. He’s also keeping an eye on the secretary of state and urges the office to be upfront with how it’s implementing the new election district commission.

“I think that’s a modern conceit of people these days that they know better than the founders,” Daunt says. “Although the people behind them may have good intentions, their good intentions are certainly no predictor of good results and may end up making things worse.” He acknowledges there are ways the government can operate more efficiently. But when it comes to elections, Daunt’s top priorities are protecting the integrity and security of the vote, through means

“We want to make sure that when these changes do take place that they’re done fairly and transparently,” he says. • Melissa Anders is a metro Detroit native and freelance writer.


34 Perception

...we’re in favor of anything that removes barriers that are preventing people’s choices and people’s voices being heard.”

Making Votes Count

POLITICIANS:

VOTE RS NOT

By Melissa Anders

NANCY WANG EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VOTERS NOT POLITICIANS

On the heels of two new constitutional amendments to change the election process in Michigan, Voters Not Politicians says it’s working to bring more fairness to the voters. The nonprofit group strives to strengthen democracy through fair elections, access, and accountability in government. It brought forth Proposal 2 in 2018, the successful ballot initiative to combat gerrymandering and change the way political districts are drawn in Michigan. It’s now working to make sure people are aware of and understand the new redistricting process, which gives a 13-member citizen commission the power to draw election district boundaries instead of state lawmakers. “For it to work, we need people – regular voters – to apply to serve,” says Executive Director Nancy Wang. “For the commission to be its most successful, we need it to be diverse and look like Michigan so that what we get is fair district lines, which again, goes a long way towards fair elections.” Spreading awareness is a “tougher job than you’d think,” Wang says. “There are a lot of interests who are seeking to undo a lot of the process that Michigan voters wanted to see.” There are two federal lawsuits against the amendment brought by the Michigan Republican Party and Michigan Freedom Fund. The Republican-controlled state legislature has denied some of the funding requested to administer the new commission, placing more burden on

private groups to raise money and get the word out to voters about the new process, Wang says. Wang is excited about Proposal 3, another 2018 constitutional amendment that expanded voting rights to include straightticket voting, same-day voter registration, and no-reason absentee voting, among other changes. Looking ahead, Voters Not Politicians is working with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan on a campaign to convince local clerks to stay open on nights and weekends leading up to elections so that more people can register to vote or submit absentee ballots. The group hasn’t taken an official stance on other voting process ideas, such as ranked choice voting, approval voting, or open primary systems. These sorts of topics have come up during town halls the group has held, and organizers want to study these ideas further. Wang has also heard people discussing vote by mail options, and she noted there are some high-profile examples of where it’s worked well. Given cybersecurity concerns, the snail mail option is something the group is interested in researching, she says. “In general, we’re in favor of anything that removes barriers that are preventing people’s choices and people’s voices from being heard and being acted upon in our state and our federal government.” • Melissa Anders is a metro Detroit native and freelance writer.


64

%

CIT Y OF DETROIT 2 010 C E N S U S PA R T I C I PAT I O N

2020 CENSUS:

Be Counted By Amy Kuras

SOURCE: Data Driven Detroit

Next year, the government is asking everyone in the country to stand up and be counted, and the consequences of not doing so could be serious for the Detroit region. Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau takes a count of everyone currently residing in the country. That count — and it’s an actual count, not a guess based on samples — determines the number of seats in the House of Representatives allocated to Michigan. Each House seat represents about 711,000 people and is reapportioned as states gain or lose population. Michigan has lost five congressional seats in the last 50 years, which some believe has caused a significant hit to the state’s clout on the federal level. While the state has been adding population, other states have been growing more quickly, which means Michigan could stand to lose another seat after the next census. That risk grows if the state is undercounted. An accurate count is crucial, and the state government, the nonprofit sector, and elected representatives have been working behind the scenes for the past two years to make sure that happens.

Mayor Duggan addresses the commmunity regarding 2020 Census participation.

“This is our congressional delegation that represents Michigan’s voice in Congress, and the fewer people we have [completing] that compared to other states puts us at a disadvantage when it comes to federal appropriations and committee work,” says Kerry Ebersole Singh, state census director. Singh was appointed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to head the state’s effort toward achieving a complete count. She directs the work of a 60-member complete count committee, which brings together representatives of various interest groups from across Michigan to help ensure every person in the state is counted. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-14th District) says that while seniority holds more power than the size of a delegation in the House, she is committed to helping ensure an accurate count in her district. “The loss of seats means the loss of representation, and that would be a problem, especially if that member has served in Congress for several years and has a lot of seniority,” she says. The state has granted $6 million to the Be

Counted MI 2020 campaign facilitated by the Michigan Nonprofit Association, which has been mobilizing its members around the census since 2017. Nonprofits, because of the close and trusted relationships they often have with the communities they serve, are uniquely situated to help make sure historically undercounted groups like people living in poverty, non-native English speakers, and young children are fully represented. “There are so many populations in the state who have been undercounted, people whose voices are not heard,” says Joan Gustafson, an external affairs officer for the Michigan Nonprofit Association. “Our campaign is dedicated in large part to communicating to those communities these three Cs — that the census is convenient, confidential and critical.” • Amy Kuras is a Detroit-based writer with an interest in education and urban policy.


DENNIS W. ARCHER JR. CEO, Ignition Media Group; Founding Partner, Archer Corporate Services; Chair, 2020 Detroit Policy Conference

Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. | MotorCity Casino Hotel

$169 Chamber members | $245 Future members Please note, prices will increase on Thursday, Jan. 16.

For more information and to register, visit detroitchamber.com/dpc

DANNIS MITCHELL Client and Community Engagement, Barton Malow

I envision a city with a strong economy that includes a fluid workforce equipped with the necessary skills for innovation and technology.

SPEAKERS

At the dawn of a new decade, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2020 Detroit Policy Conference will bring together more than 800 key business, community, civic, and government leaders to address Detroit’s ongoing path to economic sustainability and set into motion meaningful change in the city. Local and national leaders will highlight the work underway, new ideas, opportunities, and challenges that will define the next 10 years for the Detroit region.

Detroit is not coming back; I actually despise that reference. Detroit is everevolving, and what is forecasted for the next ten years is very exciting. I can’t wait to see how we apply them.

David Coulter COUNTY EXECUTIVE, OAKLAND COUNTY


FROM THE ADVISORY COMMITTEE HOW DO YOU DEFINE DETROIT’S NEXT DECADE?

JOHN HUGHES Associate, Government Affairs, Quicken Loans

JAMES CHAPMAN Entrepreneur in Residence, Rock Ventures

Explosive. I think that a lot of ground work has been laid to position the city for success. Now that that has happened the next decade will be explosive with opportunity and growth.

FAYE NELSON Director of Michigan Programs, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Detroit’s next decade will be defined by local and regional cooperation, connectivity, and collaboration. This includes cultivating local talent, supporting a world-class workforce, and attracting diverse industries.

RICO RAZO Deputy Director, Bridging Neighborhoods Program, City of Detroit Mayor’s Office

As being a place where children can thrive because their families can secure living wage jobs that provide equitable communities in which they can safely live, work, and play.

Investment in our youth, education, public safety, infrastructure, jobs, blight removal, renovations, parks, business corridors, etc. is what it will take, and you see that all happening as we speak.

AMANDA LEWAN Co-founder and CEO, Bamboo

Innovation.

DESIRAE TOLBERT Director, State and Local Government Affairs, Quicken Loans

Our ability as a region to prioritize equitable investments and opportunities, to support sustainable community development, and to re-invest in educational access and capacity building of our schools.

Mary Culler

Wright L. Lassiter

Dug Song

Arn Tellem

CHIEF OF STAFF, OFFICE OF THE EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, FORD MOTOR COMPANY

PRESIDENT AND CEO, HENRY FORD HEALTH SYSTEM

CO-FOUNDER AND GENERAL MANAGER, DUO SECURITY AT CISCO

VICE CHAIRMAN, DETROIT PISTONS


38 Membership A TRIBUTE TO AN EXCEPTIONAL LEADER

Dick Gabrys: DE DI C ATE D

LEADER AND FRIEND

The Detroiter celebrates the life of former Detroit Regional Chamber Board Chairman and longtime friend of the Chamber Dick Gabrys. With four decades of service to the Chamber, Dick is undoubtedly the longest-serving volunteer leader in the history of the organization. This distinction reflects Dick’s commitment to the Chamber. Dick began his journey with the Chamber as a participant of the first Leadership Detroit class in 1979. In 1985, Dick was invited to join the Board and went on to serve as its chair in 1989. Following his chairmanship, he remained active and served on numerous committees including Audit, Compensation, Finance, Investments, Political Action, and Tax Policy. A regular, active presence at meetings and events, Dick took his volunteer roles seriously and always engaged thoughtfully. He never hesitated to participate in policy or financial conversations. He was direct and at times asked challenging questions of staff or guest speakers which prompted a healthy, flowing dialogue among

the group. His insights were valued by fellow board members and guided staff. Serving the Chamber over half of his lifetime, his impact will be evident for years to come. After 42 years at Deloitte, Dick retired as vice chairman in 2004. During his professional career and throughout his retirement, dozens of business and civic organizations benefitted from his leadership and service. Dick’s passing is a tremendous loss for the Chamber and the many other organizations he chose to share his expertise and time with. Those at the Chamber who worked closely with him over the years will always remember his quick insights, voice of reason, and the genuine care, dedication, and guidance he provided the Chamber. The organization, region, and state were better off for having him as a business leader. As is the case with a life remarkably lived, Dick will be greatly missed by many.


Membership 39

UP AND

COMING MARK YOUR CALENDAR WITH THESE REGIONAL BUSINESS EVENTS * Event prices will increase

JANUARY 9

Sneak Peek: 2020 Mackinac Policy Conference Bistro 82 401 S. Lafayette Ave. Royal Oak, MI 48067 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Free Attendees will get a brief overview of the ins and outs of the Mackinac Policy Conference. A panel discussion with experienced attendees will provide networking tips and advice on how to best navigate the Conference agenda.

JANUARY 15

State of Your Detroit Regional Chamber

Detroit Athletic Club 241 Madison St. Detroit, MI 48226 9 - 10:40 a.m. Free for Chamber members only Join the Chamber’s Board of Directors and fellow members for an update on the Chamber’s impact over the last year and top priorities for 2020 and beyond.

JANUARY 29

Detroit Policy Conference MotorCity Casino Hotel 2901 Grand River Ave. Detroit, MI 48201 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. $169 Chamber members $245 Future members* The Chamber’s 2020 Detroit Policy Conference: Defining a Decade will bring together more than 800 key business, community, civic, and government leaders to address Detroit’s ongoing path to economic sustainability and set into motion meaningful change in the city that will define the next 10 years for the region.

FEBRUARY 12 Membership Maximizer LIFT - Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow 301 W. 4th St., Suite 200 Royal Oak, MI 48067 8:30 - 10:30 a.m. Free for Chamber members only Learn how to take full advantage of your Chamber membership and connect with other members and key Chamber staff. Both new and experienced members will have the opportunity to learn the myriad of ways they can engage in and energize their membership.

FEBRUARY 25

MICHauto Summit College for Creative Studies – Alfred A. Taubman Center 460 W. Baltimore St. Detroit, MI 48202 11:45 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. $75 Chamber members $125 Future members Join MICHauto for this annual convening of stakeholders to discuss the state of the industry. More details to follow.

MARCH 6

International Women’s Day Lunch The Townsend Hotel 100 Townsend St. Birmingham, MI 48009 11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. $55 Chamber members $75 Future members* The Chamber’s International Women’s Day Lunch, focusing on #EachforEqual, will gather a panel of leading women executives to speak to business leaders on how they can engage in inclusive practices to foster diversity of thought and encourage all employees to have a voice.

MAY 26 -29 2020 Mackinac Policy Conference Grand Hotel Mackinac Island $2,200 Chamber members $3,100 Future members* The Chamber’s 2020 Mackinac Policy Conference: Building a Stronger Michigan will bring more than 1,800 nationally recognized speakers and statewide thought leaders to the island to discuss key issues for Michigan’s economy.


40 Membership

IN THE

NEWS Chassix, a global lightweighting solutions and components supplier to the mobility industry, announced that it has formally changed the company’s name to Aludyne. As the industry changes and requires lighter and safer vehicle components, Aludyne more closely embodies the work currently being done by the company and the future of its business. Maj. Melvin H. Patton, MLA, (Ret.) was honored by the Association of Fund Raising Professionals for his volunteer service at Novi-based Center for Neurological Studies (CNS). The Distinguished Volunteer award was presented to Patton at the group’s annual dinner Nov. 6 at The Henry in Dearborn. Bank of America and the city of Detroit announced the bank’s investment

of $3 million toward its mission of helping homeowners and small-business entrepreneurs as well as an additional $1.5 million in the 0% Interest Home Repair Program and a $1 million operating grant to Invest Detroit to support its expansion of the Strategic Neighborhood Fund and Affordable Housing Leverage Fund. The 0% Interest Home Repair Program offers 10-year, interest-free loans to help Detroit homeowners invest in and repair their homes. Invest Detroit helps fund operations, as well as small business and real estate loan programs investing in Detroit neighborhoods and local developers and business owners. Butzel Long attorney and shareholder David F. DuMouchel, chair of the firm’s corporate compliance, internal investigation, and criminal defense practice, has been

GOOD THINGS ARE HAPPENING TO BUSINESSES THROUGHOUT METRO DETROIT appointed to serve on the Magistrate Judge Merit Selection Panel for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The Rocket Mortgage Classic hosted at the Detroit Golf Club, won several awards from the PGA Tour, including “Best Special Event” for the Area 313 Celebrity Challenge, “Best Tournament Sales,” and the “Fair Way Award” for its diversity and inclusion initiatives. Dickinson Wright PLLC announced Attorney W. Anthony Jenkins has been elected a trustee of the Michigan State Bar Foundation. Jenkins is a member of the firm’s Detroit office where he focuses his practice on corporate, real estate, real estate finance, land use and development, leasing, minority business enterprises, and public finance. Howard & Howard welcomed Mary V. Pickard as the newest member of the law firm’s Business and Corporate Group. Pickard focuses her practice on business and corporate law; she assists with mergers, acquisitions, and general corporate transactions. Inteva Products, a leading global Tier

1 automotive supplier of engineered components and systems, received the Michigan’s Best and Brightest in Wellness award for its third consecutive year. Inteva is the only Tier 1 automotive supplier that made the list of Michigan companies honored for quality and excellence in health and wellness. Michigan Health Information Network Shared Services (MiHIN), one of the

nation’s leading health information networks, will integrate Great Lakes Health Connect (GLHC), the leading health information exchange in Michigan, to improve healthcare across the state and beyond. MiHIN and GLHC have signed an agreement for the proposed integration with the goal of combining operations by the end of 2019.

Miller Canfield announced the opening

of an office in Doha, Qatar, by way of the Qatar Financial Centre, which has issued a license to Miller Canfield International, PLLC – QFC Branch to conduct a range of advisory and legal services. The Qatar office will seamlessly integrate with its offices in Michigan, Washington, D.C., and Chicago to provide a platform for clients, including U.S. defense contractors and mid-market companies in the defense, cybersecurity, and aerospace industries, to engage in business in both Qatar and the United States. Nemeth Law, P.C., a Detroit-based labor

and employment law firm, announced that Deborah Brouwer, a partner in the firm, was selected for inclusion in the Crain’s Detroit Business 2019 Notable Women in Law list, featuring 22 acclaimed women attorneys working in the private and public sector. Attorneys were selected based on their reputation for excellence in the law, track record of success in their field, involvement with the community, and mentorship of other attorneys. Founder and CEO of Penske Corp., Roger Penske, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Donald Trump on Oct. 24 at The White House. Michigan Super Lawyers magazine named 18 attorneys from Plunkett Cooney, one of the Midwest’s oldest and largest law firms, to its 2019 list of “Super Lawyers.” For the 13th consecutive year, Plunkett Cooney appellate attorney Mary Massaron has received special recognition by the magazine with its inclusion of her among the state’s top 50 women lawyers. MSSP Alert, published by After Nines Inc., named Rehmann to the Top 200 MSSPs list for 2019. The list honors the top 200 managed security services providers


(MSSPs) that specialize in comprehensive, outsourced cybersecurity services. The Top 200 MSSP rankings are based on MSSP Alert’s 2019 readership survey combined with aggregated third-party research. MSSPs featured throughout the list proactively monitor, manage, and mitigate cyber threats for businesses, government agencies, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations of all sizes. Rehmann offers a fully managed suite of cybersecurity solutions to prevent, detect, and remediate even the most sophisticated cyber threats. Shape Corp. is the winner of the 2019

Swedish Steel Prize for the groundbreaking use of martensitic steel in a 3D formed tube for automotive roof rail applications. The Swedish Steel Prize recognizes good engineering, cooperation, and steel innovations that lead to a better and more sustainable world. Shinola Hotel was named a Conde Nast

Reader’s Choice Award winner as one of the Top 20 Hotels in the Midwest. Nick Skislak, founder and CEO of SSDM, a digital marketing and advertising agency, presented at the Troy Chamber of Commerce’s annual Modern Marketing Movers conference, on Oct. 23 at Walsh College in Troy. Skislak led a workshop exploring “The Battle Between Sales & Marketing.” In 2008, Skislak founded his company on solid search-engine optimization principles and the company has a strong list of clients that rely on SSDM for search marketing consulting, campaign strategy and execution. In 2019, SSDM was listed in the top half of all companies on the Inc. 5000 list of Fastest Growing Companies. Switch, the global technology infrastructure

corporation that develops hyperscale data center ecosystems for enterprise colocation, differentiated multi-cloud, and industryleading telecommunications solutions received a 2019 Green Power Leadership Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at the 2019 Renewable Energy Markets Conference. The

annual awards recognize America’s leading green power users for their commitment and contribution to helping advance the development of the nation’s voluntary green power market. Switch was one of only seven organizations nationwide to receive an Excellence in Green Power Use Award. TCF Bank has committed $5 million to

Detroit’s Strategic Neighborhood fund in Grandmont, Rosedale and announced plans to open a branch in the neighborhood, the bank’s first location outside downtown. With 2.4 million square feet, TCF Center has been named the largest LEED certified building in Michigan and the largest LEED gold building to be initially certified under LEED v4.1 for building operations and maintenance in the world. Walsh has expanded its offerings to

include a Doctor of Management (D.M.) program that combines online coursework and residency interaction in an intensive, part-time program designed for working professionals. The first cohort of students were admitted in the fall 2019 semester. Warner Norcross + Judd LLP partners

Timothy L. Horner and Charlie Goode have been recognized by MiBiz as Dealmaker of the Year for their role as U.S. legal advisors on the Gordie Howe International Bridge. The firm’s representation of Structural Concepts Corp. has also been honored as “Manufacturing Deal of the Year”. Wayne State University announced the establishment of the Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge, which will provide free tuition for graduates of a Detroit high school or Detroit residents earning a high school diploma and admitted to Wayne State University as full-time freshmen in fall 2020. The Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge could potentially provide free tuition to the 49,276 students currently enrolled in Detroit Public Schools and thousands of other Detroit residents. The Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge fills the gap to cover tuition and mandatory fees not covered by financial aid or other scholarships.

Wayne State University announced, “Heart of Detroit,” a free tuition program for first-time college freshman who live in Detroit and have graduated from high school or have graduated from any Detroit high school in 2020 or after.

Coworking giant WeWork, which already operates two spaces in downtown Detroit, will open a third on Cass Avenue in TechTown. The new location will more than double its footprint in the city. WeWork will lease 91,000 square feet of space in the building at 6001 Cass Avenue at York Street, owned by the developer The Platform. It will occupy part of the first floor, and all of floors two through five. The University of Michigan will dramatically expand its presence in Detroit with a $300 million, 190,000 square foot research and education center. The center will be operated by the university and will offer programs that focus on high-tech research, education and innovation. It is anticipated the new U-M facility will eventually serve up to 1,000 graduate and senior-level undergraduate students pursuing advanced degrees in a range of high-tech innovation disciplines. Three students from Wayne State University’s Mike Ilitch School of Business took first place in the school’s first-ever “Taxitition” tax case competition. The winning team of finance and accounting students took home the top prize of $2,000. In partnership with UHY LLC, a leading national CPA firm, the Ilitch School hosted the three-day case study competition Nov. 14-16. The goal was to help students learn why understanding taxes is so important in the corporate world. Coworking firm Venture X has signed a lease to open 22,000 square feet of office space in downtown Detroit, expected to open within the first quarter of 2020. •


42 Membership

ON THE

ROSTER ELITE MEMBERSHIP

Systems Technology Group (STG) Levi Stubbs 3001 West Big Beaver Road, Suite 500 Troy, MI 48084 248.643.9010 www.stgit.com Systems Technology Group, Inc. (STG) is a global provider of IT consulting and software services to the world’s leading organizations. With offices in the US, Europe and India, STG services several Fortune 500 companies in the areas of Software Application Development & Management Outsourcing Services, Cloud Computing, Mobility Solutions, Application Modernization Services, Big Data and Data Analytics Solutions.

JOIN US IN WELCOMING THESE NEW MEMBERS TO THE CHAMBER. WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO CONTACT THEM FOR FUTURE BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES.

PREMIER MEMBERSHIP McDonald Hopkins

Wellthy

James Boutrous 39533 Woodward Ave. Suite 318 Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304 248.646.5070

Matt Potter 300 West 57th St., Floor 33 New York, NY 10016 877.588.3917

www.mcdonaldhopkins.com

www.wellthy.com

The core strength of McDonald Hopkins is its 140 attorneys who work individually and together as part of specialized teams to help businesses strategically plan for an increasingly competitive future. Each attorney has the expertise and knowledge to offer the strongest legal options for businesses, the skills and talent to guide businesses through whatever challenges they face, and the experience and understanding to provide them meaningful advice and recommendations.

Wellthy’s mission is to provide support and guidance for the one-in-five Americans that are not only working but also serving as primary caregivers for an aging parent, a child with special needs, or a spouse or sibling who just received a medical diagnosis that is going to change their life.

Unbridled Connect Mark Zahringer 5555 Conner St., Suite 2226 Detroit, MI 48213 248.909.3107 www.unbridledconnect.com Unbridled Connect is powered by people doing business with people. It responds with authentic care for customers. Driven by values, forged with the right experience, and focused exclusively on its clients and their customers.

Wellthy is part human-powered and part tech-powered. Its goal is to relieve the administrative and logistical stresses of being a caregiver by helping families accomplish caregiving related tasks and by creating a plan to help them in the future.

GENERAL MEMBERSHIP Altruis Benefit Consulting www.altruisbenefit.com Boom Vang www.boomvang.co Cannabis Counsel www.cannabiscounsel.com


Membership 43

Chase Creative

Quality Used Tires

www.chasecreative.com

Tin Roof

www.windsorusedtires.com

www.tinroofdetroit.com

Detroit Land Bank Authority

Ramada Plaza by Wyndham

www.detroitlandbank.org

Urban Science Application, Inc.

Southfield

www.urbanscience.com

Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. www.enterprisecommunity.org Feyen Zylstra www.feyenzylstra.com Hamilton Anderson Associates www.hamilton-anderson.com LLP Construction Services

www.wyndhamsouthfield.com Reading Works Detroit

Western Wayne Family Health Centers www.wwfhc.org

www.readingworksdetroit.org

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Rebuild Group www.rebuild.group The Urban Alliance www.theurbanalliance.org

Bank of America NYX Inc.

www.llpservicesinc.com Local 360 www.local-360.com ManpowerGroup www.manpowergroup.com Morgan Stanley - The Jackson Group www.morganstanleyfa.com

“For a century Kettering University has prepared leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators. This University prepares leaders. It’s what we do.” – Robert K. McMahan, Jr., President, Kettering University

NAACP - Detroit Branch www.detroitnaacp.org New Detroit Inc. www.newdetroit.org NYX Inc. www.nyxinc.com Peaceful Hugs www.peacefulhugs.org

The Kettering University GM Mobility Research Center is dedicated to the engineering and development of autonomous and connected vehicles and the next generation of mobility systems.

The future of mobility is at Kettering University kettering.edu


44 Membership

POINT OF VIEW MIKE SHIRKEY SENATE M A JORIT Y L E A D E R ( R - M I 16)

TERM LIMITS AND THE INFLUENCE OF GOV. MILLIKIN

DO TERM LIMITS NEED TO BE AMENDED? I voted in favor of the term limits law in 1992. Since that time, I have come to believe term limits are a failed experiment. Term limits encourage partisanship. Term limits do not permit us to capitalize on knowledge or experience. And, term limits ensure we are doomed to repeat mistakes over and over.

GOV. MILLIKEN IS THE LONGEST SERVING GOVERNOR IN MICHIGAN AND CROSSED OVER PARTY LINES ON ISSUES THROUGHOUT HIS CAREER. WHAT SHOULD WE TAKE FROM HIS LEGACY? Governor Milliken was revered as a statesman who forged a pathway down the center of politics. His focus was the citizens and the best solution, rather than political affiliation. To me, his service is a shining example of what we can achieve without the constraints of term limits. I respect and admire Governor Milliken for endeavoring to solve problems rather than focus on politics.

WHERE IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO TRAVEL IN MICHIGAN? At this time of year, my favorite place in Michigan is a deer blind. Mike Shirkey is the Republican senator representing Michigan’s 16th District and is the state Senate majority leader.

CHRISTINE GREIG HOUSE MINORITY LE ADER (D - MI 37)

DO TERM LIMITS NEED TO BE AMENDED? Recognizing the continued erosion of public trust in elected officials, our caucus continues to champion legislation like the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Legislative Open Records Act (LORA) expansion and robust financial disclosure for public officials. We believe the legislature must take action on these common-sense good government measures before asking the voters to extend term limits. Before term limits, legislators had the required time to develop legislative skills, policy expertise and personal relationships with colleagues and staff. Our state can greatly benefit from extending, if not eliminating term limits.

GOV. MILLIKEN IS THE LONGEST SERVING GOVERNOR IN MICHIGAN AND CROSSED OVER PARTY LINES ON ISSUES THROUGHOUT HIS CAREER. WHAT SHOULD WE TAKE FROM HIS LEGACY? There is a lot that today’s legislature can learn from Gov. Milliken. What I most admire about him is his ability to put the needs of the state above party interests. He was so good at working across the aisle and passing legislation that was fair to both sides. In a time where we have a divided government in Michigan, we can look to Gov. Milliken’s example of coming together and meeting in the middle on our state’s toughest issues.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT OUTSIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY? Raising my sons in Michigan, we had no shortage of amazing places to visit throughout the state. However, the memories I most cherish are our family visits to Sleeping Bear Dunes. I’ll never forget the fun we had scaling the huge dunes and taking in the scenic lakeshore vistas. • Christine Greig is the Democrat representing Michigan’s 37th District and is the Michigan House minority leader.


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Profile for Detroit Regional Chamber

Detroiter Magazine: December 2019  

Detroiter Magazine: December 2019