May 08

State Representative Sherry Gay-Dagnogo Stands Up for Detroit Public Schools

gay dagnogo (1)Early Thursday morning the state house narrowly passed a $500 million relief package for Detroit Public Schools, but stripped meaningful provisions that were included in the Senate bill, which was a bipartisan deal to help DPS through meaningful reforms. Lawmakers had agreed to the creation of a Detroit Education Commission which would oversee the opening and closing of all public schools in Detroit — traditional and charter. The commission also had support from Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. However, House Republicans instead opted to expand state control, punish teachers and under-fund financial assistance to repair the financial damage the state emergency managers caused.

We have learned that the debt of Detroit Public Schools is in excess of $800 million, and it is imperative, that an audit be conducted of DPS from 1999 through the present to find out exactly what happened. As we have already seen in Flint, having a single person in charge of all major decisions being made in a city or a district, with the sole directive of cutting costs, spells disaster for the people they’re supposed to be serving. Those ill effects are compounded by how much time emergency managers have been in control of DPS with no checks and balances.
We’ve seen time and time again their refusal to build relationships with local stakeholders or school board members, to listen when our teachers and our administrators.

The fear and anger of our teachers is rising, and it will only grow exponentially until something is done about the crisis facing the Detroit Public Schools. There are too many problems that need fixing and questions that need answers which an audit will help to determine the best path forward when it comes to funding as well as ensure there are no gaps in pay or instruction.

The cost to bring DPS buildings up to code would exceed the $715 million dollars currently touted in the senate bill package. Our kids were already condemned to learn in substandard environments, and now we see that those environments are truly, physically unsafe. If that is not proof that we need to seriously rethink the emergency manager act, I don’t know what else could be. Emergency Manager Darnell Earley had a role in both the Flint water crisis and the crisis now in DPS. I’ve introduced House Bill 5253 to amend PA 436 (Emergency Manager Rule) for this very reason, to ensure we halt the mounting effects of disasters created under Gov. Rick Snyder’s watch.


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Apr 11

10 Reasons Not to Vote for Trump

Godfather Trump

Story By Lena Peak


We don’t need to work very hard to come up with reasons to not vote for Donald Trump, we highlight just a few below, and this list certainly isn’t exhaustive:

  1. He’s hypocritical about everything – Trump has admitted to being good friends with the Clinton family, yet now he slews vulgar attacks at Hillary just like the other GOP candidates. In a 1999 interview with Meet The Press, Trump stated, “I am very pro-choice” – which is completely contradictory to his most recent statements that women who have abortions should be punished. Seems like Don is flip flopping on a lot of issues in order to deceive his Republican base.
  2. Drumpf to Trump. The oh-so-powerful Trump dynasty once had a less memorable surname – Drumpf. Drumpf for President just doesn’t have the same ring to it, especially when he’s talking about himself.
  3. Trump University – As if Trump needed another thing named after him, he created his own “university” that claimed to make people rich and successful like himself through education with prestigious real estate mentors. Turns out the whole thing was a complete scam, teaching people little to nothing and robbing them of their money. When all was said and done in 2010 after the “university” failed, nearly $40 million was scammed from these impressionable students
  4. He talks in 3rd person – The narcissism of having your name on everything including buildings, clothing, scamming universities, and even steaks – yes steaks – is one thing, but talking in third person is a whole new level of crazy. The only time anyone should be able to get away with talking in third person is if they star in Sesame Street and their name is “Elmo”.article
  1. He doesn’t really “tell it like it is”- Many Trump fans claim to like Trump because he “tells it like it is”. If this is the case, “telling it like it is”  means being blatantly racist, bigoted, and spewing false information. PolitiFact has reviewed 117 statements made by Trump and found a whopping 77% of them to be either mostly false, false, or pants on fire. Only a mere 3% of Trump’s statements were completely true.
  1. The Donald hates women- Donald Trump has had a bad history of misogyny. he once tweeted “26,000 unreported sexual assults [yes he misspelled assaults] in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?” Trump has also made offensive statements about numerous women, including Rosie O’Donnell, Megyn Kelly, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz’s wife, and more. I imagine if he were here to defend himself he would say something along the lines of, “I don’t hate women. I know women. Women love me. I’ve had three wives, I don’t hate women”. Speaking of Trump’s three wives – so much for those republican “family values”, right?
  2. He’s got the worst comb over of all time- It’s hard to take a man seriously with hair like that. Seriously.
  3. He said he’d date his daughter- Direct quote from a 2006 interview with The View: “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her”. Just ew.


  1. The Wall- Trump wants a wall and he wants Mexico to pay for it, to which former Mexican President Vicente Fox responded, “I’m not going to pay for that f—ing wall.” Last Week Tonight’s host, John Oliver, breaks down just how absurd the notion of building a wall across the US-Mexican border really is.
  2. He normalizes hate- All jokes aside, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign shouldn’t be taken lightly. Trump’s rhetoric normalizes hate and incites violence. Sadly, an alarming population of our country shares aligning views. As members of the Democratic Party, we must denounce these ideologies and continue striving for a tolerant union.

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Apr 04

Get Your Tickets Now!


Join us at our annual Spring Gala on Friday, April 22. This year we will have special guests Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, Gretchen Whitmer, Rep. Winnie Brinks, and Lupe Ramos-Montigny. Tickets 75.00 per person, available until April 15th. The event will be held at the GVSU Banquet Room Eberhard Center, 301 Fulton W, Grand Rapids, MI 49504. Cocktails at 6:00PM, Dinner at 7:00PM, the program begins at 7:30PM. We hope to see you there!
Please mail checks no later than Friday, April 8th, payable to Kent County Democratic Party at 2922 Fuller Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505.


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Mar 12

Rep. David LaGrand’s Swearing-In Ceremony

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Mar 11

2016 Post Primary Volunteer Round-Up with Brandon Dillon

Brandon Dillon

Michigan Democratic Party Chair, Brandon Dillon. Photo courtesy of Electablog.

It’s time for the Post-Primary Volunteer Round-Up!

Whether you’re for Hillary or for Bernie, we’ve all worked hard to support our candidates in the primary. Now is the time to rally together! Join us Tuesday, March 15th from 6-8pm at the American Postal Workers Union in Wyoming. We are currently building an army to support Democrats up and down the ticket. Democrats are fired-up, organized, and gearing up to win 2016!

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Brandon Dillon will be on hand to talk about what’s at stake for the next election and how important it is to volunteer. We need your help to make a 2016 Democratic victory a reality.


-becoming a precinct captain or a delegate
-mobilizing voters
-running for office
-fundraising and more
-internship opportunities


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Mar 07

Celebrating Women’s History Month

Contrary to popular belief, women have been involved in politics since the beginning of the republic, continuously shaping public policies that impact not just themselves, but also the entire nation. The once rebellious acts of women like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Alice Paul gave women a voice in policy decisions. After 72 years of campaigning, beating, and arrests, women finally won the right to vote in 1920. It’s easy for young women to take the right to vote for granted, but what they don’t know is unmarried women are now crucial to deciding elections.


“If all unregistered 22.4 million unmarried women register and show up to vote, they could literally determine the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.”

Women in Office

While women are making strides in public policy, in the Michigan legislature, women make up only 20.3%. Grand Rapids’ very own Winnie Brinks contributes to part of that 20.3%. Brinks has followed in the footsteps of these notable women in history by being a progressive voice in West Michigan for women and family rights. Her platform and accomplishments include investing in education, fighting for women’s access to health

Candace Chivis

Kent County Commissioner Candace Chivis

care, bringing tax relief to Michigan families, and protecting domestic violence victims.

Women of color are particularly underrepresented in government. On local level, Kent County Commissioner Candace Chivis was the first African-American woman elected to the Kent County Commission was elected to District 17 in 2010. Since then she has served on the Veterans Subcommittee and Agricultural Board.

“Not all parts of Kent County are diverse.  It’s important that women and particularly minorities participate in government,” said Candace. “I’m also the first single mother to serve on the board. Without my voice, the other commissioners wouldn’t know how it is in my district. I’ve actually used county services like WIC and Friend of the Court, this experience is vital to making policy decisions that impact my constituency.”


First Woman President
Bold women throughout history have paved the way for our current and future female political leaders. We again witness history as Hillary Clinton may very well be the first woman president of the United States. Whether or not she has your vote for the presidential primary, her accomplishments should not go unnoticed. Hillary used her public image as First Lady to push for progressive policies and eventually created a political identity of her own independent of her husband.

As first lady, she helped create the Child Health Insurance Program that provides health coverage to more than 8 million children. Later as a New York senator, Hillary fought to rebuild New York City after 9/11 and provide first responders necessary health care. In her role as Secretary of State, Hillary negotiated a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in June of 2008.

When Hillary ran for president back in 2008 she stated, “Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it’s got about 18 million cracks in it, and the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time.” 

Perhaps 2016 will mark another milestone as the year we elect the first woman president and break that hardest glass ceiling once and for all. While the fight for equality is far from over, the progress women have made is nothing short of amazing. These astounding historical and contemporary women have built a foundation that will allow future generations of young women to stand firm and fight for progressive values.




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Kent County Democrats Celebrate February as Black History Month


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Feb 07

Bernie Sanders, the man with a plan



By Brody Cragg

If last week’s Iowa caucus proved anything, it’s that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has a real shot at becoming President of the United States. Bernie is a humble man, a man of bold ideas. He’s been called many things but I think the word we are looking for is “social Democrat.”

If you’ve been listening to him you would know that he’s made many comparisons to Norway’s economic and social programs- and why we should be replicating them.  He’s stood up for civil rights, worker’s rights, women’s rights and isn’t afraid to stand up to his own colleagues. It’s hard not to like the man.


It’s the economy stupid.

It all begins with taxes. Under Bernie’s plan, anyone with income over $250,000 would pay 37% of their income in taxes, up from the current 33%. He’s modeled this off of Norway. It’s widely misconstrued that their taxes are much higher than in America. While this is true for the richest people, the poorest are taxed at a lower rate compared to the rich.  The reverse is true in America. Under our system, income equality continues to grow and we see by the shrinking middle class.

“Very few people think it is acceptable or moral that the top 1/10th of 1% own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%.” –Bernie Sanders

A higher tax rate certainly hasn’t hurt them. With an annual 3% GDP growth rate despite global recessions, Norway has proven time and again that strong social policies and can go hand in hand a strong economy. Their unemployment rate boasts 4.1% compared to ours at 5.5%. And the labor force participation rate there is 65% and growing, compared to America’s shrinking 62.6%.

Because they’re happy.

Norway’s economy is thriving, but they’re also happy. In a study conducted by Forbes Magazine, the happiest people on earth were found to be Norwegians. Touting strong social support system, gender equality, general freedom and low perceptions of corruption, Norway sets the bar high in all of these factors.

“And in those [Scandanavian] countries, college education, graduate school is free. In those countries, retirement benefits, child care are stronger than in the United States of America, and in those countries, by and large, government works for ordinary people in the middle class, rather than, as is the case right now in our country, for the billionaire class.”  (Bernie Sanders on This Week with George Stephanopolous on ABC.)


These are still not guaranteed for many in America.

Many will say that’s not possible, but Norway is a great example of what we can do more for every day Americans. Their people are happy, workers’ rights are guaranteed and their economy is growing. That could be us.

I am ready to Feel The Bern, are you?

Brody Cragg was an intern with Kent Dems in the Fall of 2015. He is majoring in economics at Grand Valley State University.

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Feb 07

Bills Introduced to Repeal Emergency Manager Law

Democrat State lawmakers believes authority should be given back to local elected officials.

Last week, Representative LaTanya Garrett (D-Detroit) introduced House Bill 5260 that would repeal Michigan’s emergency financial manager law, and State Senator David Knezik (D-Dearborn Heights) introduced its counterpart in the Senate. This legislation is especially important because it is widely believed that Flint’s water crisis could have been prevented if Governor Snyder had allowed local government to make legislative decisions.  

“We need to return decision-making in our communities to the elected officials that residents voted into office,” said Garrett. “An emergency financial manager is an unelected official who is not accountable to residents, and that is simply undemocratic.”


Representative Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) echoed this sentiment. “The governor’s emergency managers have clearly failed to put the health and wellbeing of the people of Flint first. It’s the most extreme example — but far from the only example — of the poor priorities of Gov. Snyder and legislative Republicans.”

Garrett condemned Governor Rick Snyder’s decision to reinstate an emergency financial manager in Highland Park, and argues that the city’s financial distress is due to state underfunded revenue sharing and failed economic policies. The city of Highland Park was under the control of an emergency financial manager for nearly a decade and last year, the Michigan Department of Treasury found that the city was still in financial emergency.

“Instead of instating and reinstating emergency managers, the state should do better and adequately fund revenue sharing to municipalities and growing the economy in a way that helps areas like Highland Park,” said Garrett. “The same is true for the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) which is also under an emergency financial manager. The state has had control of DPS for years and yet the district’s debt has grown and the school buildings have deteriorated. I think that clearly shows that this emergency financial manager law is a failure and deserves to be repealed.”

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Jan 05

Democrat Winnie Brinks Standing Up for Women

MI Progressive Women's CaucusWomen are an essential cornerstone of families and community. While many strides for women’s equality continue to be made progress on even the most common-sense issues are often met with Republican opposition. Kent County Democrat and State Representative Winnie Brinks knows the value of standing up for basic women’s rights, and in spite of the odds she does this every day in Lansing.


Better Access to Birth Control A MustContra equity graph
According to the Michigan Department of Community Health In Michigan, cuts to funding for family planning
over the past decade has been correlated to an increase in unintended pregnancies. “Family planning is a cornerstone of women’s health, which is why it is so critically important that we give women the tools they need to control their fertility,” said Brinks, as chairwoman of the Progressive Women’s Legislative Caucus in 2014.

“Access to birth control and basic family planning is still a problem for Michigan women and the biggest step toward preventing abortion. Providing adequate reproductive health care protections and resources enables women and men to plan their families which improves the economic stability of our state.”

The Caucus introduced a package of legislation that would provide measures to make it easier for women to access the contraceptives they need, prohibit discrimination against women on the basis of contraceptive use and call on the State to take steps to reduce Michigan’s high rate of teen pregnancies.

Helping Women Beat Breast Cancer
When Attorney Teresa Hendricks-Pitsch was told she had breast cancer, it was the size of a pickle. Just a few months after her last test came back clear, she felt a lump that was thicker and more painful than normal. “I was diligent about getting my mammograms because I thought they could detect cancer, said Teresa. “They gave me a false sense of security.”

dense breast tissueForty percent of all women have dense breast tissue. “Masking” occurs when dense tissue surrounding a tumor obscures cancer growth with regular tissue in test results. Women with extremely dense breast tissue have a 6 times greater risk of developing cancer than women with fatty breasts. Rep. Brinks worked with Teresa on introducing legislation that would prevent what happened to her from happening to other women.

“In response to this need I introduced House Bill 4260 that would require doctors to notify women if their mammograms detected breast dense tissue. Women need complete information to make the best health care decisions possible.” The Republican-controlled legislature wouldn’t allow Winnie’s bill to even get a hearing, however another version of this bill is now law.

Fighting domestic violence

Along with the Progressive Women’s Caucus, Winnie introduced a number of bills offering paid sick leave to victims of domestic, sexual violence and stalking. Another bill would ensure an individual would not disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits for conduct that was a consequence of domestic violence. Another would prevent landlords and realtors discriminating against individuals on the basis of being a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Due to Republican inaction on these bills, in the fall Winnie issued a call to action for the legislature to act on these bills that were introduced back in March. “Domestic violence is a serious problem in Michigan, and people who are trapped in abusive relationships need assistance to restore safety and security to their lives. These proposals we have introduced would make a real difference in the lives of people trying to escape violence and abuse. Surely Democrats and Republicans can set aside partisan differences to do the right thing for these people who need our help.”

What can you do: Give $5 to the Kent Dems, your generous donation goes to support re-electing Democrats like Winnie Brinks to office.

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