Ronia Cabansag: On this week's episode, Nicole Brown was appointed Ypsilanti’s mayor pro-tempore, the Washtenaw County Board of Health has declared racism a public health crisis, and finally, in the Echo’s mini series Ypsi Votes, we have information about the third candidate running for Washtenaw County’s Prosecuting Attorney. I’m Ronia Cabansag, sitting in for Liz Hornyak, and this is the Eastern Echo Podcast.
Nicole Brown was selected mayor pro tempore by Ypsilanti’s City Council on July 7. The position was previously held by Lois Richardson who was selected as interim mayor after former mayor Beth Bashert resigned. Both Lois Richardson and Nicole Brown will serve in their positions until the general election in November. At that time, the Ypsilanti City Council will select the next mayor pro-tem, and this individual will remain in office until 2022. There have been concerns that the public should be more involved in selecting the next mayor of Ypsilanti.
Amber Fellows, former chair of the Human Relations Commission, spoke on this during the public comment portion of the meeting. Fellows said, “A part of the transition I hope to see is expansive and democratic interpretation of our guiding documents and I bring this up because I am against our Election Commission’s interpretation of our city charter and the successive appointment procedure that cuts off the direct participation from [the public] electing our representatives.”
Fellows went on to recommend that a community process be established for selecting an appointment for a mayor and any other vacancies. The next Ypsilanti City Council meeting will be held on July 21.
On June 30, the Washtenaw County Board of Health passed a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis. The cities of Jackson, Michigan and Kalamazoo have done the same. The board declared that racism “harms, kills, and prevents individuals and communities from healthy lives.”
In Washtenaw County, there is a ten year difference in life expectancy between black and white residents, and a seventeen year difference between Latino and white residents. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, thirty-three percent of Washentaw’s total cases and forty-one percent of those hospitalized have been African Americans, even though African Americans only make up twelve percent of the county’s population.
Felicia Brabec, who sits on the county’s Board of Commissioners and the Washtenaw County Board of Health, said in a statement, “Naming racism and truly working together are vital steps, but we must commit to doing more. We must show our commitment at every level, put resources behind our intentions, and work collectively to see meaningful and lasting change.”
The resolution calls for an annual review of progress toward relevant goals, procedures, practices, and budgeting allocations. In declaring racism as a health crisis, the board hopes to build a partnership with local leaders and organizations who are against racism in order to bring real change.
In our final story for this week, we have a feature of the third and final candidate running for Washtenaw County Prosecuting Attorney. You can hear about two other candidates in last week’s episode. These features are part of the Ypsi Votes series written by our editor-in-chief Austin Elliot. Ypsi Votes is a series of articles featuring candidates in Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township. Right now, you can read about all three of the candidates running for Washtenaw County Prosecuting Attorney at easternecho.com.
Today, we are discussing Arianne Slay. Arianne Slay is from Ann Arbor, Michigan and currently lives in Ypsilanti Township with her family. Slay earned both her masters degree and doctorate degree at Michigan State University. Slay started her career at the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department in the community corrections office; after this, she worked as a public defender intern. In 2008, Slay started working for the Washtenaw County prosecutor's office where she spent six of her nine years as the lead domestic violence prosecutor. Slay currently works for the city of Ann Arbor as the senior assistant attorney.
If elected, Slay wants to expand diversion and deflection programs and the L.E.A.D. program. The diversion and deflection programs would handle cases involving substance abuse and mental health issues, outside of the criminal justice system. The L.E.A.D. program stands for Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion. This program would handle low level offenses that have roots in mental health issues, addiction, poverty, and homelessness. Slay’s goal is to help find the cause of why individuals end up in the criminal system so that they get the rehabilitative care and help they need.
If elected, Slay said one of her first goals is, “getting the community together and hearing how we can all work together. What services do we all have . . . what I’m asking for is commitment. I’m asking commitment from all our social service agencies, from places of worship, from our student population. I want to help effectuate the social change that we are supporting in criminal justice change.”
Arianne Slay is endorsed by mayor appointee Lois Richardson, Sheriff Jerry Clayton, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and the mayors of Saline and Chelsea. The election for the Washtenaw County Prosecuting Attorney, and other city offices is on Aug. 4.
There are no Republican candidates on the ballot for Washtenaw County Prosecuting Attorney, so the winner of the Democratic primary on Aug. 4 will replace longtime incumbent Brian Mackie, who was first elected as prosecutor in 1992.
Written: Jasmine Boyd
Produced: Lauren Smith
Hosted: Ronia Cabansag