In the closely watched county prosecutor’s race, self-described progressive and reformist candidate Eli Savit won in a three-way primary race against Arianne Slay and Hugo Mack.
Savit received a total of 41,672 votes (50.5%) with all precincts reporting, compared to Slay’s 35,378 (42.8%) and Mack’s 5,504 (6.7%).
Savit’s campaign had been endorsed by some high-profile progressive-affiliated politicians and activists. Sen. Bernie Sanders, singer John Legend, and former Gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed had all endorsed Savit.
He will be taking over the prosecutor’s office from incumbent Brian Mackie, who was first elected in 1992.
Savit racked up votes in the urban centers of the county, Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. He won many precincts around UM and EMU by a 35%+ margin.
His strong performance in urban areas was complemented with an even showing in most rural parts of the county as well. Savit came out on top in places like Sylvan and Freedom Townships on the west side of the county, and he stayed close behind Slay in almost all other rural townships with many of those precincts reporting just a handful of votes separating the two candidates.
In Saline Township, for example, Slay came out on top by just 3 votes.
Slay saw her strongest support come from Ypsilanti and Augusta Townships, running 10-20% ahead of Savit in most precincts there. It wasn’t enough to overcome Savit’s strong performance in almost all other areas of the county, however.
Savit campaigned on large structural reforms for the county’s justice system, highlighting issues such as ending cash bail, reforming the practice of plea bargaining, and tackling mass incarceration.
He said he would not utilize cash bail as prosecutor and he will put an end to “coercive plea bargaining” practices. His website says that he will “ensure that plea bargaining in the Prosecutor’s Office is conducted fairly.”
“I think plea bargaining has its place in the criminal justice system, [but] we should not be threatening charges that are not in the interest of justice or that you know the prosecutor can't prove [later in] a trial, simply to gain leverage over a defendant in plea bargaining negotiations and force them to plead guilty,” Savit said in an interview with the Echo.
Savit faces no Republican candidate in the November general election, so he is presumed to be the next prosecuting attorney for Washtenaw County.