Hopeful Garlin Gilchrist II Competes For The Job of Detroit City Clerk

ormer Moveon.org organizer, Garlin Gilchrist II says he's young but properly prepared to take on the job of Detroit's next city clerk.

Past Experience: Political organizer for Moveon.org, City of Detroit Director of Innovation and Emerging Technology

Education Background: Farmington High School, University of Michigan (B.S.E. Computer Engineering, B.S.E. Computer Science in Engineering)

On what he'd bring to the position…

It's important that we have a city clerk that is really energetic and really passionate about serving the needs of all Detroiters, not only voters but also everyone who is active in decision-making in our neighborhoods. And I believe young people in Detroit are hungry for more information about what the government does and hungry for more information about how they can participate. And as a young person, I feel I can connect directly to my peers and get them engaged in the decision-making process. Make sure that they and all of their friends are registered to vote, and then actually use technology and use all the tools and methods that research shows will make sure people will turn out and vote to increase the voter turnout amongst people in my age group. It's one of the age groups that has not voted at the level that we want, but I think that if the city clerk is actively paying attention to young people, we can get more young people to vote.

On preventing voting issues…

This is about people. This is about making sure the people who are serving our voters working at the polls are adequately trained. This is also about information. One of the things that happened in 2016 is that there were a lot of complicated things on the ballot, these ballot measures. I meet people every day when I'm out in the neighborhoods that tell me they were confused about what was on the ballot. I think the city clerk should clarify things and make sure people understand what their choices are. There are research-proven things that we can do to get more people to the polls, like sending people reminders about when Election Day is via text message. Research shows that makes people 10 percent more likely to cast a ballot. We can make sure people are voting at the polling location closest to them, and opening new polling locations if we have to, so that those locations are within a mile of where people live. If we do that, research shows that'll also increase voter turnout and also make voting more convenient so you don't end up in a long line my family and I were in November. We need to do those types of things, and those are all within the scope of the city clerk to be able to make those decisions and really make voting easier and more convenient. 


On what he expects will be the most challenging part of the job…

The most important role of the city clerk is to make sure people are, again, informed and empowered decision makers on Election Day and in between election days. That means making sure that our voting process is transparent and that we are preparing the people who work in our election process to be able to adequately serve voters. We've had a lot of problems over the years, and that's reflected in the fact that voter turnout in the municipal primary elections, where voter turnout was about 13 percent, and that's down from the 2013 primaries. And I believe one of the reasons that has gone down is because people have lost faith in the voting process. So, it's going to take a lot of work to get there and make sure the process works and is transparent, and to make sure that the people who work at our polls are adequately trained. When the state looked into what happened in the 2016 election in November, they found that the training in the city of Detroit was inadequate. So, I'm going to get in there and redesign how we train, make that training available more often, make it more flexible and more accommodating of different people's learning styles and literacy levels, and make work for more Detroiters. 

On what he'd like voters to know about him…

I'm a dad and a husband. My twins Garlin III and Emily Grace were born on my birthday. … What's awesome about it is I'm the only person on the ballot with small children. So when I'm thinking about the future of Detroit, it's not an abstract concept. It is very concrete to me. I look in my babies' eyes and I want them to see that their father is stepping up to serve his community. I think that's something parents can relate to and something I want my children to see in their father.

We chatted with incumbent Janice Winfrey, too. Read what she had to say here.

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