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Primary Elections 2022: New 32nd State House District features a crowded ballot for Democrats

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Josh Ames
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flickr.com
Michigan House of Representatives

Redistricting has changed the voting and state legislative boundaries throughout Washtenaw County. Where there used to be four State Representative districts that resided entirely within Washtenaw County, now there are seven, some of which include areas beyond the county borders.

The newly created 32nd District is within the borders covering Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township, as well as parts of Superior and Pittsfield Townships. There is a crowded Democratic field, and all embrace progressive Democratic-leaning priorities on education, housing, the environment, mental health, gun violence, and equity issues. What seems to set them apart is the experience they bring to the race.

We were able to track down five of the six Democrats vying for the 32nd state House race.

We introduce them alphabetically starting with 31-year-old Marshall Averill, who, after graduating from EMU with a background in public policy and economics, has spent his career aiding the underprivileged through his work with Americorps, local nonprofits, and in local school systems, coaching, mentoring, and working as an academic success coach.

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Marshall Averill
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Marshall Averill
"I am a career public servant. My career is not that long. I’m only 31 years old, but every single job that I have held as every day I have gone to work is to serve people around me in a very direct way. Every time I take a job, it is to uplift marginalized people. But I have studied public policy in an economic form more than any other candidate."

65-year-old Roderick Casey worked for Ann Arbor Schools for some 15 years before turning his attention to the arts and politics. He’s worked as a Democratic delegate at the city, township, and state level, helping to design laws on criminal social justice issues. Casey says he was motivated to become involved after watching one of his sons suffer from mental illness that turned into substance abuse, to eventually taking his own life after being unable to get a job. Casey says, after 45 years living in the district, he feels he has the background to help young people and the community be successful.

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Roderick Casey
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Roderick Casey
"I understand. I’ve lost a kid. I understand what it means to own a business in Ypsilanti. I have great grandkids. I want to make sure they have every opportunity, so they don’t do what their uncle did, what their great uncle did."

49-year-old Isaac London was an educator for decades, both in teaching and administration. London now describes himself as a district-wide instructional coach and a progressive democrat who fights for the rights of others. He says his political consciousness has been raised through his participation in the Washtenaw County Democratic Party, but he maintains his independence as a political candidate.

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Isaac London
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Isaac London
"I don’t throw out endorsements because that’s not what I’m seeking. When you’re endorsed by someone, they usually give you a donation for their influence with their influence with your campaign. No one, no entity no pack have given to my campaign. It’s been all small donations from people in the community who have helped me with my campaign."

47-year-old Robyn McCoy has worked as an attorney and advocate for 20 years in criminal defense, family law, neglect and abuse educational advocacy. McCoy describes herself as the only visible woman in the race and a person who has spent her career working to give back to the community.

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Robyn McCoy
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Robyn McCoy
"I’ve done indigent defense and criminal defense. I’ve spent over 12 and a half years representing children on neglect and abuse cases. I’ve started a program on what to do when stopped by the police to address issues of public safety. I’ve partnered with police, justices and prosecutors in preventative programming. And programming in how to navigate the school system. I also have an expungement practice. I’m helping people who had offenses from 20-30 years ago who are law abiding citizens to help them clear their records and get jobs to help them support themselves and their families."

Rounding out the alphabetical listing of 32nd state House seat contenders is 39-year-old Jimmie Wilson, Jr. who speaks with pride about his blue-collar background, beginning as an airplane mechanic, then building wind turbines, and now working as an electrician at Ford’s Rawsonville plant in Ypsilanti. Wilson began his political career as a UAW union trustee and has been an Ypsilanti Township board trustee since 2016. He suggests it is his political experience, his connections and endorsements that say a lot about his abilities.

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Jimmie Wilson Jr.
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Jimmie Wilson Jr.
"I’m the only candidate that has all the labor organizations endorsing me, progressive organizations endorsing me, community activities endorsing me, and over 40 elected officials, from county sheriff, county commissioner, school board members, township members all endorsing me for this position."

Despite repeated attempts, we were unable to reach the sixth Democratic candidate, Carol Smith, for this report.

The winner of the 32nd House Democratic primary, August 2nd, will face the sole Republican, Martin Church, in the November general election.

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Cathy Shafran is WEMU's afternoon news anchor and local host during WEMU's broadcast of NPR's All Things Considered.
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