Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Once again, thank you to The League of Women Voters Ann Arbor Area for organizing an informative and engaging candidates debate Forum. The event was held at the Riverside Arts Center in Ypsilanti. The public turn out for the event was smaller than I had expected, but those in attendance were treated to a thoughtful, and well organized forum.

Out of the six State Representative running in the 54th district five were in attendance. Those candidates taking part in the debate included Anne Brown, Lisa Cardenas, Ronnie Peterson, Gregory Peoples, and Michael White. Candidate Bill Krebaum was not in attendance.

Each of the candidates displayed the genuine concern for the community that you would expect from 54th district State Representative candidates. Many good questions were directed to the candidates and many thoughtful answers and insights were delivered by candidates.

When the topic of prison/corrections reform came up all the candidates expressed the fact that the state is in dire need of sweeping changes, and that there are deeps problem within the prison system in Michigan. It was agreed that too many people are incarcerated for non-violent crimes. and it is a important issue. I was glad to hear this shared sentiment from candidates.

In regard to the issue of public education the candidates were agreed that difficult deep-rooted and complex problems face not only the state but our community. Candidate Michael White talked of the fact that there is not enough funding for schools and not enough counselors to provide direction for students at school.
Anne Brown feels that there exists a need to look at the quality of teaching personnel and the curriculum. Lisa Cardenas is an advocate for starting education at an even younger age than preschool. Gregory Peoples take on education is that a zip code, or whether or not parents can provide transportation, should not direct the education that kids receive. Peoples feels that the whole system needs to be over-hauled. Lastly, Ronnie Peterson, on the topic of  public education, said that DPS is the model and the model isn't setting a very good tone. That's for sure. I'm not sure I understood the point Lisa Cardenas was trying to make in regard to her statements on how to improve the public schools. But for the other candidates, I feel they all shared very thoughtful and constructive thoughts on this difficult issue. I think Gregory Peoples nailed it when he said, basically, that the whole education system needs to be over-hauled.

To be clear, these issues were not the only topics discussed at the debate but they are the issues that stood out to me. I hope this piece provides a little insight into what was discussed at the candidates debate Tuesday evening at the Riverside Arts Center.

Being a State Representative is a tough job. Researching proposed changes to state laws, modifying existing laws, researching how proposed laws will affect folks in a given area they represent, and taking part in tons of meetings with people and committees is very difficult work. All the candidates are to be commended for throwing their hat in the ring.

Jeff Brown
Purple Walrus Press

Debate at the Riverside Arts Center Ypsilanti, MI.  Photo Purple Walrus Press.

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