Dear Michigan LCV Family,
Welcome to the November 4, 2021 edition of Three Things Thursday! This week’s Three Things include the results of Michigan LCV’s work in the 2021 elections, an update on Build Back Better, and information on our upcoming Detroit Virtual Gala.
1. 2021 Michigan LCV Election Recap
After months of hard work by the Michigan LCV team, Michigan voters went to the polls on Tuesday to make their voices heard in the 2021 November election. I am extraordinarily pleased to say that Tuesday’s elections across the state resulted in some big wins for Michigan LCV and Michiganders!
Dearborn Mayoral Election
In Dearborn, State Representative and former Michigan LCV board member Abdullah Hammoud emerged victorious in the race for mayor, marking a historic win for the majority Arab American community and for the environment. Abdullah will be Dearborn’s first Arab-American mayor and — as a proven leader and champion for clean air and water — he will bring fresh ideas and leadership to a community that has long suffered some of the worst and most disproportionate impacts of toxic air/water pollution and climate change.
Michigan LCV was extremely proud to endorse Abdullah in advance of the August primary election and our family of organizations did work to support him in several distinct ways. This was critically important because the campaign was intense, with his opponent playing dirty in the end, as evidenced by headlines like, “Dearborn Mayor’s Race Heats Up As Attacks Launched” and “Dearborn Mayor’s Race Intensifies Over Election Of City’s Seventh Leader.”
Our Conservation Voters of Michigan PAC was the single-largest independent expenditure on Abdullah’s behalf, knocking over 12,300 doors in the most battleground sections of the city, and running thousands of digital ads throughout Dearborn over the past many weeks. We publicly released initial details about the #OurWaterOurVote independent expenditure operation, and examples of our first-pass door piece and digital ads, which can be found here.
This paid huge dividends as we saw Abdullah elected on Tuesday evening with 55% of the vote (he was tracking at 60% + of the vote all evening until the absentee ballots came in).
Many members of the Michigan LCV team personally pitched in on the final days, canvassing Dearborn in the sun, rain and wind to talk to voters about Abdullah and why the election mattered so much. Here are some photos of the Michigan LCV team out on the doors in Dearborn!
Left to right: Government Affairs Associate Hallie Fox, A&O Regional Coordinator Ethan Petzold, myself and Operations Director Ruby Summers
Left to right: A&O Regional Coordinator Ethan Petzold, myself, Deputy Director Bob Allison, and Operations Director Ruby Summers… dripping wet from the rain.
Left to right: Democracy for All Coordinator Mark Payne, Operations Director Ruby Summers, A&O Regional Coordinator Ethan Petzold, MLCV board member Lisa Baker, candidate Abdullah Hammoud, Deputy Director Bob Allison, MLCV board member Janis Bobrin, and me.
A number of us also attended Abdullah’s victory party on Tuesday evening, taking part in the celebration as the results came in.
Left to right: former Michigan LCV Political & Outreach Director Londell Thomas, A&O Regional Coordinator Ethan Petzold, Deputy Director Bob Allison, MLCVEF board member Salah Ali, myself, and former MLCV staff member Mero Gonzalez at Abdullah’s victory party on Tuesday evening!
Left to right: Tiah McKinney, MLCV board president George Davis, A&O Regional Coordinator Ethan Petzold, and MLCVEF board member Salah Ali.
The jubilation in the room was incredible when the results were finally in, and Abdullah gave a moving acceptance speech focused on his vision for the Dearborn community. Here is a quote from his speech as captured in this Detroit News article:
The people of Dearborn spoke loudly. They want change and bold leadership to tackle the challenges we face. Our campaign united the city behind thoughtful solutions that will deliver the city government Dearborn deserves. We live in the greatest city in America and I’m excited about what we can achieve together when we rally around a common vision.” ~ Dearborn Mayor-elect Abdullah Hammoud
I was also quoted in the same Detroit News article, discussing the big win and what I see in Abdullah’s leadership moving forward:
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. 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.” ~ Lisa Wozniak
And, here’s a very moving quote as captured by the Associated Press:
To the young girls and boys who have ever been ridiculed for their faith or ethnicity. To those of you who were ever made to feel that their names were unwelcome and to our parents and to our elders and to others who are humiliated for their broken English and yet still persistent, today is proof that you are as American as anyone else and there is a new era in Dearborn.” ~ Dearborn Mayor-elect Abdullah Hammoud
I am thrilled for Abdullah, his family and friends, and the city of Dearborn. His leadership as mayor will bring great improvements and tangible change moving forward into the future!
If you’d like to see or reshare any of our Michigan LCV social media from Tuesday night, we would encourage it:
Finally, big congrats to our board member Salah Ali, who has not only been a staunch supporter of Abdullah’s for many years and will play a lead role in Mayor Hammoud’s transition team, but who started a PAC this cycle — Advocates of Change for Tomorrow PAC) — to help elect Dearborn City Council and City Charter Commission candidates to office. Salah’s efforts were a huge success, mobilizing over 70 volunteers to person the poles on election day and advocating for their endorsed candidates.
Grand Haven City Council + Board of Light and Power
Michigan LCV endorsed four candidates in our second cycle of municipal elections in Grand Haven — Karen Lowe and Kevin McGlaughlin for City Council, and Andrea Hendrick and Michael Westbrook for the Board of Light & Power.
We got involved in Grand Haven in 2019 when a battle emerged against a proposed plan to convert an old coal plant on Harbor Island (which is located in the Grand River at the mouth to Lake Michigan) into a natural gas plant. Many in the community were opposed to the idea and we helped elect an anti-gas plant voice to City Council that year (Ryan Cummins).
In the days following the 2019 election, community members came together to form the Grand Haven Energy Organization. The Michigan LCV team remained connected and supportive as the new grassroots entity strategized about how to derail the plans to substitute one fossil fuel infrastructure for another. The coalition gathered over 1,300 petition signatures in opposition to the proposed gas plant, which both the City Council and Board of Light & Power were still pushing.
Fast forward to 2021 and there was the discovery of widespread toxic PFAS contamination (along with arsenic and other pollutants) flowing off Harbor Island. Michigan LCV held phone banks and mobilized 40 residents to a public hearing on the gas plant proposal. Amid all the opposition, the BL&P general manager and City Council shelved the gas plant proposal.
But this was just the start to a much longer story. You see, the coalition had already recruited four candidates to run for office — two for contested seats on the City Council and two for seats on the Board of Light & Power — and Michigan LCV jumped in to actively support their candidates.
On Tuesday night, our ‘Fantastic Four’ swept into office — securing a pro-clean energy/clean water majority on the five-member Grand Haven City Council, and gaining two important voices on the five-seat BL&P.
“Incumbents Fall In Grand Haven Mayor, City Council Race” (Grand Haven Tribune)
Kentwood Mayoral Election
The only loss on Tuesday night was in Kentwood where our endorsed candidate, Emily Bridson, challenged the incumbent (a somewhat popular mayor) and came up short. Emily ran a good campaign, but it just wasn’t enough to get her across the finish line. Kentwood is going to continue to be an important part of our long-standing work in Kent County, so our work in this part of the state is far from over.
Bottom line? Much to celebrate! #ElectionsMatter!
2. An update on Build Back Better & the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework
As the Michigan LCV team continues to work to build support for President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, developments in Washington, D.C. this week prompt me to provide you all with another update.
After the October 31st “deadline” for a vote came and went, there has been a push this week in the U.S. House for votes on both the bipartisan infrastructure bill (BIF) and the Build Back Better Act. The momentum that has been building this week is exciting and brings hope that we will see these critical legislative packages passed soon. As our teams have worked on all along, Michigan LCV is of the position that both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better Act must be passed in tandem to secure the funding and results that the American people and our communities need as we look to invest in our infrastructure, take care of working families, and protect our communities from the worsening impacts of the climate crisis.
While there have been significant cuts to the legislation, over 80% of the climate provisions still remain, which would invest $500 billion to address the climate crisis. For a detailed breakdown of the most recent language of the Build Back Better Act released earlier this week, I encourage you to check out this week’s edition of the Washington Weekly, Michigan LCV’s federally-focused weekly newsletter. This week’s issue breaks down all of this week’s developments and what they could mean for Michigan.
With Progressives in Congress no longer “holding the line” on the bipartisan infrastructure bill until the Build Back Better Act is passed — instead entrusting President Biden to deliver the necessary votes — we expect that a vote on both pieces of legislation could happen before the close of the upcoming weekend. This would mean that both bills would move from the House to the Senate (a big win), although there is still no indication of whether Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia will continue to hold out on voting “Yes” to send them to President Biden for his signature.
It is left to be seen as to what will happen this week and over the weekend, but we are hopeful. While the Build Back Better Act and the bipartisan infrastructure bill are not perfect, the passage and ratification of both, in tandem, should be celebrated as a victory for climate, for our country, and our communities.
I will continue to keep you all updated as things progress over the coming weeks. Hopefully we can celebrate a big win soon!
3. Michigan LCV’s 2021 Equity & the Environment Awards Gala
Michigan LCV’s annual awards gala is right around the corner and our teams have been working diligently in preparation for one of the biggest nights of our year.
Our annual Detroit Dinner awards gala is an event that celebrates and honors champions that have shown a vested interest in and have fought relentlessly for the protection and conservation of Michigan’s land, air, water, public health and democracy. Traditionally held in Detroit, the event is always an unforgettable evening that instills hope and provides an important look at the work that Michigan LCV does on a daily basis.
Last year, as the country struggled to reckon with racial violence and the divisive rhetoric driving the political narratives in our country — all amidst a global pandemic — our team decided that the focus of our gala should be “Equity & the Environment.” In 2020, we honored leaders who stood out for their efforts to protect Michigan’s environment and public health. Our honorees were Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Garland Gilchrist, and Southwest Detroit community and climate activist/leader Theresa Landrum.
This year’s “Equity & the Environment” will continue with the theme by honoring five leaders and tireless defenders of our democracy and drinking water. This year we will be honoring Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Assistant Secretary of State Heaster Wheeler for their work to improve and expand voting access and rights, and for fighting back against attempts to delegitimize the 2020 election; Bay Mills Indian Community President Whitney Gravelle for her work to shut down Enbridge’s damaged and dangerous Line 5 oil and gas pipeline; and Sandy Wynn-Stelt and Tony Spaniola for their tireless work to bring attention to and catalyze action to address the toxic PFAS crisis in Michigan.
The awards this year were made by amazing Michigan artists at the Glass Academy in Dearborn. We love our newly established partnership with them. The awards are beau-ti-ful!
Like last year, the 2021 Detroit Dinner “Equity & the Environment” awards gala will be held virtually via Zoom on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 at 6 PM. I hope you will join us for this amazing event, a night that will not disappoint.
You can buy tickets to this year’s gala here.
Thank you so much for your ongoing support. As always…
P.S. Michigan LCV’s October Recap Video!
Throughout October, the Michigan LCV and Michigan LCV Ed Fund teams were hard at work on a variety of important issues across our state.
In October’s recap video, you can get a glimpse into our work on priorities from redistricting and the protection of our democracy and voting rights, to our work to elect our endorsed candidates in critical elections, to building support for meaningful climate action. Check out the video here!