Soapbox Summer 2018 - Jeff Irwin

Jul 13, 2018

Jeff Irwin would like your vote in the 18th District State Senate race.  Here is the candidate's submission for the 2018 WEMU Soapbox Summer.  

I’m Jeff Irwin, and I’m a progressive Democrat running to be your next State Senator. 

I want to go to Lansing to fight for great schools in every community, good jobs rebuilding our infrastructure, human services, a clean environment, and equal rights for all people including women, people of color, and LGBTQ residents.  

I’m asking for your vote on August 7th because, at times like these, when our progressive values are under attack, we need a State Senator who can stand up for what’s right, fight for our progressive values, AND get things done that help our community, and make Michigan a better state. 

I believe I’m the best candidate to do that because I have a record of results.  Starting in 1999, I ran for the county commission to address homelessness and affordable housing.  A few years later, we built a new homeless shelter, the Delonis Center.  We also added investments in affordable housing, started a Head Start program in Eastern Washtenaw, preserved over 2,000 acres of natural areas, funded youth programs, and protected our mental health system from devastating cuts during the worst economy in 100 years. 

During the 11 years I served as a county commissioner, I also worked for clean air, clean water, and the protection of the Great Lakes with the League of Conservation Voters. 

That decade of public service and non-profit activism gave me the tools to be effective serving for six years as a state representative, even with Republicans in control of every part of state government.  I fought hard against the attacks on working people, reproductive rights, our social safety net, and the cuts to schools and higher education.  I was the first legislator to call for the shutdown of line 5 and I introduced legislation to protect our water from fracking. I supported laws to require universal background checks for gun purchases and I proposed legislation to address income inequality with a graduated income tax.  I also introduced laws to end the war on drugs and close the school to prison pipeline.  I proposed bills to enhance our voting rights and to restore democracy to communities taken over by emergency management.  Tragically, those calls were not answered by the majority and we saw firsthand the damage to the children and families of Flint.  In the wake of the Flint Water Crisis, I traveled to Flint many times to hear from residents and made repeated attempts to initiate water delivery and to start replacing the pipes damaged by the emergency manager’s incompetence. 

All of that work was important, but I’m most proud of the tangible changes I achieved in state government.  I won budget amendments to secure over 300 million dollars in additional federal funding to feed people struggling with poverty.  I improved pollution cleanup standards to hold polluters accountable and secured funding to monitor the dioxane pollution here in Washtenaw County.  I helped pass laws reforming school discipline to end zero tolerance and to increase school funding for kids facing poverty.  I also protected home based solar and improved standards for energy efficiency and renewable energy.  And, I helped pass Medicaid expansion so that over 650,000 previously uninsured Michigan residents have healthcare. 

I’m Jeff Irwin, and I want to be an effective advocate for change in Lansing.  Vote for me on August 7th, and I’ll work hard to make Washtenaw County and Michigan a better place to live and work. 

To learn more, check out my website at