Incumbent Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey cruised to victory in the primary election earlier this month, setting up a November contest with political newcomer Garlin Gilchrist II.
But reporters from Detroit’s two daily newspapers say Winfrey’s 51 percent to Garlin’s 19 percent of the primary vote does not necessarily signal an easy win in this fall’s general election.
“It’s kind of hard to forget November when we saw so many issues across the city at the polls,” says Katrese Stafford, Free Press reporter. “I was handling a lot of the phone calls coming in from residents who were just upset.”
Detroit News Reporter Nicquel Terry joined Stafford and Host Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today. Winfrey has declined several requests from WDET to appear on Detroit Today or talk to reporters. Her opponent, Gilchrist, appeared on Detroit Today earlier this month where he outlined his plans for improving elections, providing voters with better information and increasing the transparency of city government.
Click here to hear the full conversation with Gilchrist.
Terry says Winfrey has made improvements in the city clerk’s office since voters elected her in 2005, but in last year’s presidential election, there were issues. Since then, Winfrey says she has corrected problems with volunteers and training, but Terry says she may still be vulnerable. “When those things begin happening, it’s just a little bit too late. People in the city of Detroit are depending on this process to be fair,” Terry says. “They’re depending on their votes to be counted. They’re depending on having a city clerk in office who can be held accountable and ensure there is a fair and flawless voting process in the city.”
Gilchrist, meanwhile, wants to improve the technology in the clerk’s office and hire more tech-savvy people, Stafford says.
Neither of the reporters have heard of any planned debates between Winfrey and Gilchrist.