Since elected in 2005, Janice Winfrey – now in her fifth term as Detroit City Clerk – has worked tirelessly to increase voter turnout and oversee elections with integrity and transparency. A native Detroiter, Winfrey has embraced with honor the three charter-mandated responsibilities of her position: City Clerk, Official Record Keeper, and Chief Elections Officer. Her accomplishments have included establishing the Detroit Archives and Records Management Division, which ensures that all citizens and other parties have access to archived and current city records. She additionally introduced five new voting systems in Detroit, and BallotTrax, created to track absentee ballots while notifying voters where their ballots are in the election process.
The Michigan Chronicle views Winfrey as a proven leader who has worked with diverse groups in her tenure as City Clerk to reach common goals and objectives on behalf of Detroiters. As a congresswoman representing the 12th Congressional District, we believe her ability and willingness to work with diverse people and entities will bode well on Capitol Hill to bring home much-needed dollars and resources.
While “all elected officials” have critics and faultfinders – and Winfrey is not an exception – she is not distracted from doing the job she was elected to do – serve and empower the people. Winfrey is not accustomed to doing the same thing if it’s not working; she finds better and more innovative ways to press forward to meet goals effectively, efficiently, and professionally. Winfrey will use the same philosophy, drive, and actionable platforms in congress to better address infrastructure initiatives, protect women’s rights, advocate for clean drinking water, improve public safety, and work with colleagues to ensure that all American children have the opportunity to receive a quality education in a safe learning environment.
As a former Detroit school teacher, Winfrey knows the enormous disadvantages and inequalities Black and Brown children face in educational settings and will work to eliminate such barriers.
In an era when laws by Republicans have been passed to infringe on the voting rights of Black and Brown voters, we believe Winfrey will be laser-focused in protecting democracy and expanding voting rights to underserved people. And at a time when Michigan and the nation are still in the clutch of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chronicle feels that Winfrey will be a fierce advocate in eradicating health care disparities in Black and Brown communities.
Winfrey will be a valuable ally to the Biden-Harris Administration in its quest to spur the economy and address other critical issues facing America. The Mayor of Detroit and Governor of Michigan have already formed tremendous relationships with the administration, which have been positive for the city, county, and state through ample federal funding. Winfrey, as the next congresswoman in the 12th, will work diligently to move the administration’s agenda forward for the people. And Winfrey supports Israel, calling it “America’s only ally in the Middle East.” One of her opponents, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, has spoken out against Israel on many occasions since elected to Congress.
Tlaib – first elected to serve the 13th Congressional District in 2018 following Rep. Conyers’ resignation in 2017 – chose earlier this year to run in the new 12th. Tlaib is known as a fighter for the people and someone who won’t back down. She has been a strong proponent of environmental justice, punctuated by the importance of clean drinking water.
While the 12th District needs a fighter, there are times in Congress when the “art of the fight” must transition to include the “art of the compromise” to benefit constituents. Tlaib was criticized by many people for her “no” vote on President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill signed into law last November. The bill has been hailed as a “once in a generation investment in America’s Infrastructure.” Yet, Tlaib was the only Democrat from Michigan to vote “no.”
Tlaib told the Michigan Chronicle Editorial Board that her “no” vote was based on a broken promise to move both bills – Infrastructure and Build Back Better – together. Build Back Better was scrapped – for now – and leverage has been weakened for the transformative investments in climate and social initiatives.
“When you represent one of the poorest communities in the nation and turn your back on the voters with a ‘no’ vote on President Biden’s infrastructure because you can’t get the whole deal, that’s not serving the people – that’s being stubborn. Her ‘no’ vote made me run for Congress,” Winfrey told the Chronicle Editorial Board.
The other candidates in the 12th Congressional race are Shanelle Jackson and Kelly Garrett; both have strengths.
Jackson has a portfolio of accomplishments in the public and private sectors. She served as a member of the Michigan House of Representatives for six years, beginning in 2006. After the House, Jackson served as a Director at the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) before entering the private sector as Director of State Government Relations at a financial tech firm doing business in 46 states. As a forward-thinker, Jackson is on the cutting-edge of the upside impact that cryptocurrency is having in African American communities.
MyKale (Kelly) Garrett is currently the Mayor of Lathrup Village. She is the first African American to be elected to Lathrup Village’s top elected office. Garrett was Mayor Pro Tem from 2013 to 2017. Her leadership endeavors have included chairing and serving as president of the Southfield Lathrup Democratic Club, and she sits on numerous boards that address children, families, and health care.
Nevertheless, the Chronicle believes that Janice Winfrey is the best candidate to serve the new 12th District – with its substantial population of Detroiters – and bring back needed dollars and resources. This will be Winfrey’s second run at Congress.
In the 2016 primary election, Winfrey ran against and lost to the legendary U.S. Rep. John Conyers in the 13th Congressional District. Yet, her run in the 13th – which included some of the cities now in the new 12th – was impressive as she garnered almost 40 percent of the votes. Many election watchers believe that Winfrey’s 2016 showing against Conyers may translate into voters in the 12th voting for her in the Aug. 2 primary election.