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Washtenaw County Commissioner Sue Shink wins 14th District State Senate race

Sue Shink
Washtenaw County
Sue Shink


David Fair: This is 89 one WEMU, and we're running through a post-election morning providing all the results we have to this point. Some final results on the national level may not be available until tonight, or perhaps even later. Locally, we're still awaiting some ballots to be counted from the City of Ann Arbor. Those were anticipated some 45 minutes ago, but it has taken a little longer than expected. We will follow along and pass it along. But it does appear that the 14th District State Senate seat was won by the current chair of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners. Sue Shink joins us on the WEMU news line after a long election night. And thank you for either staying awake or getting up early to talk.

Sue Shink: Good morning.

David Fair: There is a possibility that when you are sworn into office in 2023, the Democrats could be in control of the executive branch and the legislative branch. What would that mean to you as a incoming state lawmaker?

Sue Shink: To me, it would mean an increased ability to get work done for the people of Michigan, and that's a really exciting possibility.

David Fair: Well, we have often heard the complaints from Democrats that, when Republicans are in control, that they have not worked in bipartisan manner. Would you seek to work in a bipartisan manner?

Sue Shink: Absolutely. And, you know, the campaign is over. But I can say my record here in Washtenaw County, where I've been leading a Democratic board, we have absolutely worked with Republicans, and I will continue to do that. If you look at some of our successes, including our parks, land preservation, and getting broadband to everybody within two years. Those are all bipartisan efforts.

David Fair: The 14th District is one of those that now extends beyond the borders of Washtenaw County, covering not only northern Ann Arbor, Chelsea and Dexter and the western portion of the county townships. It further stretches to cover much of Jackson County. I know you spent time campaigning there leading up to the election. What did you learn about your new constituency?

Sue Shink: They're great. I've met so many wonderful people who care about the community and are working hard to make it better. And I'm just excited to work with the people of Jackson. It's a great place. And there's pretty much no place I can go now where I don't know somebody, which I love.

David Fair: Our post-election coverage and conversation with 14th District State Senate winner Sue Shink continues on 89 one WEMU. So now, as you begin to wrap up your work with the County Board of Commissioners and look forward to putting together your office and setting priorities for the agenda in 2023 in Lansing, what are your immediate priorities?

Sue Shink: There's a lot, right? So, we're going to have the Democratic Senate caucus working together to lower drug prices and cut the retirement tax and work to keep our water clean and build our economy and provide opportunities for people to reskill into better jobs. So, those are some of the things we'll be working on. And then, of course, I am going to work very hard to represent my constituents and have a strong constituent services aspect to my office. And so, if people have issues at the state level once I'm sworn in, we'll do everything we can to be helpful.

David Fair: It is said that the existential crisis facing the planet, our state, and our community is the climate crisis. I'm sure you were pleased that it appears Ann Arbor voters have passed the Community Climate Action Plan, and that 20-year, one-mill tax will be invested in Ann Arbor and making it carbon neutral and more energy sustainable. How do you plan to take what is happening here in Washtenaw County--in the city of Ann Arbor--and carry that to Lansing and try and enact similar change?

Sue Shink: Yeah, we have learned a lot from our action--our climate action planning--at the county level. And one of the things that we've learned is that some of our residents who are struggling with their bills, if we can support them with resources to weatherize their homes, it actually will cut carbon consumption by quite a bit and make life a bit easier for them. It'll lower their energy bills and make their homes more comfortable and healthier. And so, that's just one example of the really practical steps that we can take to fight climate change and make life better for people.

David Fair: And in doing so, you kind of have to consider the fact that there are wage disparities. There are social inequities. There are racial inequities. And how do you include that as part of the planning, not only on environmental issues, but in legislative matters throughout?

Sue Shink: So, in Washtenaw County, we have implemented a process where all of our proposals have a racial equity analysis, and I don't think that's done at the state. I'd like to see that started there, because it really brings up a lot of issues, not just about race but about income disparities, as you're saying, to make sure that our policies are helping and not hurting people because this is a diverse state. We want it to be as great as possible for everybody.

David Fair: Well, congratulations on your win. Thank you for talking with us this morning. And there will be plenty of occasion for conversations moving forward.

Sue Shink: Thank you so much. I hope you have a great day. I think it's an exciting day for Michigan, and I'm thrilled. So, thank you so much.

David Fair: [00:05:45] That is Democrat Sue Shink. She'll make the move from the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners to the state Senate representing the 14th district. I'm David Fair, and this is 89 one WEMU.

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Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
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