Capital Catch-Up: November 5, 2021
Abdullah Hammoud Wins in Dearborn, Anti-Gas Plant Candidates Sweep Grand Haven Elections
State representative and former MLCV-board member Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn) made history Tuesday night, defeating former state representative and Wayne County executive Gary Woronchak in Dearborn’s mayoral election. When he takes office, Hammoud will be the city’s first Arab-American mayor.
MLCV staff and volunteers have been among Hammoud’s biggest supporters. Our team knocked on over 12,000 doors, hosted numerous phone banks, and spoke with voters about Hammoud’s progressive platform, which included key environmental issues like upgrading failing water infrastructure, increasing government transparency, and retrofitting homes with air quality improvement devices.
“Abdullah Hammoud’s win tonight signals a pivotal moment in Dearborn’s history and reflects a monumental shift in the city’s role within southeast Michigan — now led by a proven leader who unflinchingly takes on the tough challenges,” said Michigan LCV Executive Director, Lisa Wozniak. “Abdullah will unite Dearborn around upgrading its water infrastructure to stop constant flooding, holding polluters accountable for dirtying the city’s air, and beginning to invest in clean, renewable energy.”
On the other side of the state in Grand Haven, a slate of MLCV-endorsed candidates also succeeded on election night by winning a clean sweep of the City Council and Board of Light and Power (BLP) elections. Throughout the campaign season, the BLP’s now-shelved proposal for a gas-powered “peaking” power plant was the central issue. The plan, which was tabled due to environmental concerns ranging from carbon emissions to the discovery of PFAS on the Harbor Island site, drew considerable attention from community activists and challenger candidates, all of whom emerged victorious.
In the race for Grand Haven City Council, the two MLCV endorsed candidates, Karen Lowe and Kevin McLaughlin, defeated incumbents Mike Dora and Dennis Scott. Both Scott and Dora supported the BLP’s power plant proposal, and both were soundly defeated by a margin of over ten percent each. In the Board of Power and Light election, Andrea Hendrick and Michael Westbrook defeated former mayor Geri McCaleb and Andy Cawthon by a similar margin. Both Hendrick and Westbrook were outspoken opponents of the power plant plans.
The decisive victories for MLCV-endorsed candidates in both Dearborn and Grand Haven would not have been possible without MLCV volunteers and staff donating their time and energy into supporting candidates who will be strong on environmental issues. Click here to learn more about how you can help our team elect environmental champions in 2022 and beyond!
Democratic and Republican Lawmakers Demand Lifting of Solar Distributed Generation Cap; PSC reaffirms cap is unnecessary
This week lawmakers reignited the call for Michigan’s House Energy Committee to pass legislation that would remove Michigan’s arbitrary 1% on rooftop solar power. If adopted, HB 4236 would signal that Michigan is open for business when it comes to solar energy, and is serious about tackling climate change and air pollution.
The legislation, which is a common-sense solution to lower energy costs and expand renewable energy options, is sponsored by members of both parties. Despite the widespread support for the bill, Energy Committee Chairman, Rep. Joe Bellino (R-Monroe), has blocked it from advancing due to opposition from Michigan’s for profit, monopoly utilities — DTE and Consumers Energy.
During the press conference, Rep. Greg Markkanen noted that the bill would help address the issue of utility reliability and energy affordability.
“All the states around Michigan do not have a cap and their utility companies are doing just fine,” Rep. Markkanen said. “For the utility companies in Michigan, to maintain a cap is maintaining a monopoly, and it’s not good for the free market. It’s not good for consumers or residents across the state.”
Echoing Rep. Markkanen’s support for raising the distributed generation cap, Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) and Rep. Padma Kuppa (D-Troy), both co-sponsors of the proposal, said the legislation is important from an environmental and grid resiliency perspective.
“What we see is that the grid is not reliable, it is not resilient, it is not affordable,” Rep. Rabhi said. “What distributed generation helps to bring to consumers is reliability, is affordability, is resiliency, so that when there are natural disasters – which we know there are going to be more frequent natural disasters moving forward – we have resiliency in the grid when we’re not relying on one plant to generate all of our power.”
House Democrats Introduce Suite of Pro-Voter Bills; Contrasting with Republican Anti-Voter bills
On Wednesday, House Democrats introduced seven voting rights bills that would make it easier for Michiganders to vote, both in person and via absentee ballots. Among other reforms, House Bills 5513, 5514, 5515, 5516, 5517, 5518, and 5519 would ensure ballots postmarked by election day and received within 72 hours of an election would be counted, reimburse municipalities for prepaid ballot postage, and provide for a longer period of early in-person voting prior to election day.
The legislation offers a stark contrast to the GOP-led bill package that was introduced earlier this year in the State Senate. The 39-bill behemoth would tighten and restrict current voting practices as part of a misguided reaction to the 2020 election. Just last week, Governor Whitmer vetoed three of the most extreme bills, calling the greater GOP legislative efforts to cast doubt on the security of our elections systems a part of the “big lie” – a term used to describe the debunked claims that there was widespread election fraud in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
In a press event supporting the release of the Democratic bills, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson highlighted the need to expand access to the ballot – not unjustifiably limit it in a partisan reaction to a lost election.
“I fundamentally believe no matter where you live in this state, no matter who you vote for, your vote must count and your voice must be heard,” Benson said.