Three Things Thursday: November 17, 2022
Dear Michigan LCV Family,
Welcome to the November 16, 2022 edition of Three Things Thursday! It’s amazing how much can change in just one week. With the Blue (as in “clean water”) Wave that washed over our state last week comes brand new leadership in the state House and Senate. We certainly need it and the Michigan LCV team has already rolled up our sleeves to ensure that great things happen for our beautiful state and the people who live here. In this week’s Three Things we introduce you to two new leaders, take a look at the latest news from the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network, and showcase one of our newest teammates. Let’s dive in!
1. New leadership in Lansing
On November 8, all across Michigan, pro-conservation, pro-democracy candidates were elected to office – including 90% of Michigan LCV-endorsed candidates. For the first time in 40 years, the Michigan Legislature will have Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate, and with the announcement of the new leaders of each chamber Michigan has two other “firsts” to celebrate, as well: Sen. Winnie Brinks, the new Senate Majority Leader, will be the first woman to serve in that position; and Rep. Joe Tate, our new Speaker, will be the first African American man to lead the House of Representatives.
Sen. Winnie Brinks represents Michigan’s 29th Senate District encompassing portions of Kent County and the greater Grand Rapids area. Before being elected to the state Senate in 2018, Brinks served in the state House (2013-2018), and worked as a caseworker at an NGO, helping local businesses and nonprofit grow and retain employees. Senator Brinks also served as the executive director of a community-based corrections agency and as a school paraprofessional.
Senator Winnie Brinks front and center along with then-candidate, now Representative-elect John Fitzgerald (to her right) and a whole bevy of Michigan LCV staff and volunteers.
During her time in Lansing, Brinks has demonstrated a deep commitment to environmental and public health priorities, sponsoring bills and voting to address PFAS contamination, improve air quality, and ensure safe drinking water in schools. She also helped pass water bold infrastructure investments and bills to protect public land. Senator Brinks received a 100% on the Michigan LCV 2021-2022 Legislative Scorecard.
Rep. Joe Tate represents Michigan’s 2nd State House District, which encompasses Detroit’s Lower East Side, Grosse Pointe Park, Grosse Pointe City, and Grosse Pointe Farms. Prior to running for office in 2018, Rep. Tate worked to accelerate the growth of small businesses with the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and served in the United State Marine Corps where he was deployed twice to Afghanistan. Rep. Tate was born and raised in Detroit, attended MSU (Go Green!) with an athletic scholarship and was a three-year starter on the football team where he was also elected team captain his senior year. Upon return from Afghanistan, Rep. Tate went on to pursue dual Masters degrees (a MBA and a Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Planning) from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!)
Rep Tate, on the right near the doorway, leading a water infrastructure tour in Detroit.
During his time in office, Rep. Tate has voted in favor of transformational water investments, energy efficiency upgrades on water treatment plants, and expanded recycling. Rep. Tate received an 86% score on the Michigan LCV 2021-22 Legislative Scorecard.
Our team, and many members of our board, have solid relationships with both Senator Brinks and Rep. Tate We are excited to work with both of them as we collectively work to tackle the challenges facing our drinking water and Great Lakes, ensure strategic investments in our local clerks and voting infrastructure, and take bold action to address the climate crisis.
NOTE: We are also super proud of former Michigan LCV board member Sarah Anthony who was elected to the state Senate after serving for six years in the state House. Senator Anthony is an amazing leader, which was recognized this week when she was asked to serve at the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, making her the first Black woman to serve in this position.
I am proud and honored to serve as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee next term,” Senator-elect Anthony said in a statement. “The soon-to-be Democratic majority is eager to get to work on a responsible, equitable, and fiscally sound state budget that addresses needs now and into the future, and we welcome all who are willing to do so in good faith with us.”
2. PFAS-impacted communities: education and mobilization
Unfortunately, toxic PFAS chemicals and contamination continue to wreak havoc on the drinking water and health of communities all across Michigan. The good news is that our partners at the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network (GLPAN) continue their critical work to bring communities impacted by PFAS together, providing them with resources/ information and helping them get organized and mobilized to tackle the problem.
On Tuesday, GLPAN hosted a webinar geared at providing answers to pressing questions about PFAS contamination and the impact to human health and the natural environment. The webinar featured Dr. Courtney Carignan, an exposure scientist and environmental epidemiologist at Michigan State University who has worked closely with our GLPAN community leaders over the past many years. Dr. Carignan’s research looks at reproductive and child health by investigating exposure to contaminants in food, water, consumer and personal care products.
Dr. Carignan during Tuesday’s webinar.
With more than 200 people in attendance, Dr. Carignan helped the participants understand the implications of PFAS exposure, understand how best to test for impact to human health (blood testing) and what steps to take to prevent further exposure.
Dr. Carignan spoke about the impacts of PFAS chemicals on drinking water and our health.
Michigan LCV is very proud to support the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network in multiple ways, notably through the time and talent of our great communications team.
3. New Michigan LCV Staff Spotlight: Daniel Rivera
In the midst of the midterm election, Michigan LCV was delighted to welcome a talented new member to the organization. I’m pleased to introduce Daniel Rivera who joined us as the Elections Systems Organizer for Michigan LCV Education Fund’s Democracy For All team. In his new role, Daniel is responsible for building community power through election official engagement and support of voting rights and election protection.
Prior to joining the Michigan LCV team, Daniel served as the Congressional Progressive Caucus Fellow for Congressman Ro Khanna. During his time with Congress, his time and talent was focused on increasing support for public school teachers, individuals with disabilities and HBCUs, as well as much needed funding for community-based and civil rights initiatives.
Daniel earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Spanish for the Professions and an Associate in Arts degree in Applied Speech Communication from Ferris State University, graduating summa cum laude.
Please join me in welcoming Daniel to the Michigan LCV family!
In the coming weeks, we will have a lot more to share about the changes in Lansing. I will likely take a Three Things Thursday Thanksgiving break next week so I send my best wishes now for a joy-filled, restful, safe, healthy, rejuvenating holiday. Thanks for everything!