Election 2020: Candidates for Ingham County Clerk, in their own words

Lansing State Journal

Across Greater Lansing, voters have begun to cast ballots for the 2020 general election – absentee ballots are being sent out, with in-person voting to follow on Tuesday, November 3.

LSJ asked area candidates running for office to share their backgrounds, and answer a few questions on major topics to aid voters in their decision. Read excerpts from their answers below.

Barb Byrum | Democrat (incumbent)

Barb Byrum

I live in Onondaga with my spouse and two children. I serve on the Mid-Michigan Girls on the Run Board of Directors, which is part of a national organization, inspiring girls in our area to be joyful, healthy and confident through a fun curriculum which creatively integrates running. 

I am a member of the Mason Public Schools Foundation Board that exists to support and enhance the educational opportunities for Mason’s youth.

I have served as Ingham County Clerk for the last 8 years. Prior to that, I was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives for 6 years. I have also served as an elected precinct delegate and have been a paying member of the Michigan Democratic Party for nearly 24 years.

Joseph Werner | Republican

No response.

Candidates answer questions on major topics

What makes you more qualified than other candidates for this office?

Byrum: I have been the Ingham County Clerk for the past 8 years. During that time I have been credentialed as a Certified Elections/Registration Administrator by Election Center. In 2017, I served on Election Center’s Security Task Force and I currently serve on Michigan’s Election Security Commission. I am a member of the Overseas Voting Initiative, and am an active participant in the Michigan Association of County Clerks. I have successfully conducted 25 elections and was one of only a handful of County Clerks in Michigan to complete the 2016 Presidential Recount.

Werner: No response.

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What are the three most important issues facing the county and how would you address them? What would you do in your first month in office?

Byrum:  1. Reconciling the budgetary impacts as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19:  My budget request for 2021 reflects a 12.7% decrease, but there are hard decisions that need to be made to tighten our belts.

2. Ingham County’s IT department is insufficiently staffed and the technology used is in need of modernization. We should be able to make better use of technology so customers can complete transactions with my office remotely.

3. Ingham County will have a new controller slated to start in September. This will present opportunities for new initiatives and changes to the way the County operates.

Werner: No response.

Systemic racism is a major concern of mid-Michigan residents. As an elected official, what do you pledge to do to address problems in the community you want to serve?

Byrum: I pledge to continue to listen, learn and strive to do better. Throughout my career I have been an ally in the struggle against systemic racism and if re-elected as your County Clerk, I will continue to promote voter registration and participation for all residents, especially those who are often under-represented. The best way, as County Clerk, I can fight against systemic racism and oppression is to fight against voter suppression. Voting is our most powerful form of protest and it is incumbent upon all

of us to choose elected leaders who will work to end systemic racism and injustice.

Werner: No response.

Holding fair, accessible and secure elections is the purview of the county clerk. What will you do to ensure county voters have confidence in our election system?

Byrum: The best way to ensure voter confidence is to provide a safe and easy process for voting. Implementing Proposal 3 has presented new challenges, as many voters are taking advantage of mail-in voting for the first time. I educate voters and make knowledge of how the process works accessible to all. I provide trainings for election inspectors so they are aware of changes due to the new law and can explain the process to voters with questions. Lastly, it is vital to present timely and accurate results on Election Night, which I have done for each election that I administered.

Werner: No response.

The above information was compiled from questionnaires emailed to each candidate. If you have questions about our process, email opinions@lsj.com. To support work like this, consider subscribing. For more information, visit LSJ.com/subscribe.