When Michigan voters headed to the polls in August, many did so with the express intention of sending a message to those who currently hold political power. Many women, in particular, were concerned with the direction the current administration and lawmakers have been headed and they intended to make their voices heard. Not only was voter turnout higher than in any previous Michigan August primary, for the first time in state history, the Democratic ticket features female candidates for every statewide office on the ballot for the mid-term elections. With GRETCHEN WHITMER running for Governor, DANA NESSEL for Attorney General, JOCELYN BENSON for Secretary of State and DEBBIE STABENOW for the U.S. Senate, the ticket for the blue party is decidedly pink.
GRETCHEN WHITMER, who leads the Democratic ticket for November, won the gubernatorial primary with more votes than her two males components combined. She is a lifelong Michigander who has served in the Michigan Legislature as a Senator and, more recently, as Ingham County Prosecutor. A former educator, Gretchen believes deeply in improving education and ensuring that every child, no matter where they live in Michigan, has access to a quality public education.
Gretchen has pledged to improve Michigan infrastructure which includes fixing the roads and ensuring clean water for all communities. She is a proponent of expanding coverage and lowering costs for healthcare for Michigan residents. Expanding Medicaid, providing access to care in rural Michigan and restoring funding to Planned Parenthood are among the specific goals she proposes.
She is committed to fighting income inequality in Michigan, where she notes that women are still only earning 74 cents for every dollar that a man earns for the same work. On her website she promises, “As Governor I will continue to fiercely defend the rights of every Michigan woman, including for women’s access to all forms of reproductive care, contraception and maternity care, paid family leave and equal pay.”
DANA NESSEL has almost 25 years of expertise in the field of law. She completed her undergrad at the University of Michigan and earned her Juris Doctorate at Wayne State University. She spent over a decade with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, handling some of the county’s most difficult cases. She left the Prosecutor’s office in 2005 in order to open her own law practice and has built a reputation as a dedicated defender of constitutional rights. She is committed to civil rights, earning a number of awards including the “Champion of Justice” award from the Michigan State Bar Association and “Woman of the Year” from the Michigan Lawyers Weekly.
Dana believes the office of Attorney General “should be used to protect Michigan residents, not hurt them.” She believes that her experience, both in the Prosecutor’s Office as well as a defense attorney, gives her unique perspective that will make her an effective Attorney General. Dana has been endorsed by the Michigan Democratic Black Caucus, the Michigan Association for Justice, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan and the Democratic Attorneys General Association, among many other organizations.
JOCELYN BENSON is currently CEO and Executive Director of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) and is seeking the office of Secretary of State for Michigan. She is the author of “Secretaries of State: Guardians of the Democratic Process” and, as such, has unique knowledge and insight into the role Secretaries of State play in enforcing election laws and ensuring fair, accessible and secure elections. Her passion for the topic was piqued when her veteran husband, then serving overseas, had a frustrating and ultimately unsuccessful experience trying to cast his ballot in the 2012 election. Her commitment to making that every legitimate vote is counted can be traced back to this moment.
Jocelyn has been successful in her leadership of institutions and has experience in cutting costs and improving services. During her tenure as Dean of Wayne State University Law School she froze tuition, improved access to scholarship funds for students and improved rates of bar passage for its students. She has also been instrumental in establishing programs to provide free legal services for veterans and aid up and coming entrepreneurs in being part of Detroit’s economic revival.
DEBBIE STABENOW has been serving Michigan in the United States Senate for the past 18 years and is currently seeking a fourth term in office. She has built a reputation as a fierce protector of Michigan’s waterways. In fact, the first bill she passed as a Senator banned oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes. She is committed to increasing access to lands for hunting and fishing and has worked diligently to conserve and improve Michigan’s wildlife habitats.
Senator Stabenow believes Michigan’s greatest strengths lie in “making things and growing things” and has maintained a laser-focus on making these things her priorities. She has championed legislation that reduces tax burdens on Michigan families as well as small businesses and manufacturers. She currenty serves on the following Senate Committees; Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Budget, Energy and Natural Resources and Finance.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is not intended to be an endorsement of any particular candidate or party but is rather recognition of the historic moment this represents for the women of Michigan. No matter your political leanings, Women’s LifeStyle Magazine of Greater Kalamazoo encourages you to go to the polls and vote your conscience this November.