Voter Education – Wash County Commissioner Dist 2 Candidates Q&A

As part of our non-partisan voter education campaign, WeROC members posed questions to Washtenaw County Commissioner District 2 candidates, Michelle Deatrick (D) and Dan Smith (R). Here are the results:

WeROC Washtenaw County Commissioner District 2 Candidate Questionnaire (PDF)

Stay tuned for results of a WeROC questionnaire posed to school board candidates from Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor schools.

Interfaith Rally for Justice – 2 pm Sunday 10-9

When: Sunday October 9, 2pm
Where: Location: Washtenaw County Courthouse, Corner of Huron and Main in Ann Arbor (Pubic parking structures are located on the corners of Washington and Fourth Ave. and Ann and Ashley, free on Sunday).

Recent events such as the posting of racist graffiti at EMU, posting of racist flyers at U of M, and statements by a professor at Concordia, along with recent police shootings in Tulsa OK, Charlotte NC, Columbus OH, and El Cajon CA call for a continued community response. Sponsored by the Washtenaw Faith Leaders Forum, the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, and WeROC.

Upcoming WeROC Opportunities

Fellow WeROC Members and Supporters…

In the middle of an intense and unusual political season, it’s hard to also pay any attention to what happens AFTER the election, in the coming months and years. But isn’t that our special role as community organizers — to, yes, participate thoughtfully in selecting the best candidates and issues this Fall, but also to keep our eyes on the future prize?

By participating in as many of the following opportunities as possible, and encouraging others from your congregations, unions, organizations, and networks to join in, you become part of a stronger WeROC with the capacity to seriously tackle the root of the economic and social issues increasingly challenging our families and communities. Please organize your life to help these happen…

1) October “Meeting of the Whole”, Thursday October 6, 5:30-7:15pm, Strong Tower Ministries, 156 Spencer, Ypsi Twp. Light dinner provided. Come for camaraderie, solidarity, strategizing our next important steps together.

2) MOSES Annual Public Meeting: Monday, October 10, 7:00-8:30 pm , bus leaving Strong Tower Ministries at 5:30 pm (arrive earlier!). Our chance to help our partners MOSES win on major regional issues AND for WeROC to learn how better to act as a power organization locally. By attending, our leaders and members will be able to connect to issues that are impacting us all here in SE Michigan, including the need to choke the School-to-Prison Pipeline, create a connected public transportation system, and move toward more fair election districts.

We need your help in recruiting 50 people to justify a WeROC bus — you can promise people a rare combination of fun while helping real change happen. Contact Tad Wysor with tentative names for the bus as you talk to people.

3) YES for Regional Transit! Everyone in SE MI, especially lower income families, will benefit from supporting the Regional Transit Master Plan on the November ballot, and that’s why WeROC and MOSES were early endorsers of the campaign. Now WeROC is being asked to help the campaign win big in Washtenaw. Please help spread this opportunity for a fun canvassing event: Saturday, October 8 out of the Ecology Center Office, 339 E Liberty, suite 300, Ann Arbor .

4) WeROC Voter Education: This year, there’s only one contested race for Washtenaw County Commissioner, in District 2 in North and Northwest Washtenaw. As an aid to voters, WeROC sent 7 questions on issues that matter to our members to the both candidates. Look for a follow-up post that will include the candidate’s responses. Please think about how your congregation or organization can spread the word. Let’s help informed democracy work!

Also stay tuned! Our creative Education Action Team has sent out a questionnaire to School Board candidates.

WeROC Meeting of the Whole 10-6

Join WeROC for our monthly WeROC Meeting of the Whole, our chance to get together with other awesome folks committed to positive change in this community, and to catch up on current actions and plans:

When: Thursday, October 6, 5:30-7:15 pm,
Where: Strong Tower Ministries, 134 Spencer, Ypsilanti

Strong Tower Ministries is located just north of E Michigan Av. The meeting will be in the Annex at the south end of the lot.
Light dinner provided.

Support EMUFT Lecturers and RTA Kickoff!

A few important upcoming events were announced at our recent September 2016 WeROC meeting:

1) Support the lecturers’ union at EMU (EMUFT):  Rally to support a fair contract for our lecturer friends and colleagues:  Wednesday, Sept 7, 12:30, in front of Welch Hall, near the Water Tower, Eastern Michigan University campus . Facebook event. We’ll help the administration remember that treating staff right is good for the whole community!

2) Kickoff for the county “YES on Regional Transit” campaign, Thursday Sept 8, 5:30-7:30 pm, Ladies Literary Society, 218 N Washington, downtown Ypsilanti.  The RTA campaign is well-organized, it’s a strong coalition, and we have a great chance of winning connected, 21st-century transit in Southeast Michigan if we all do our bit.  Facebook event.

3) The MOSES Public Meeting is October 10, 7pm, Greater Grace Temple in Detroit. Most of the regional issues our MOSES partners will be raising with public officials at the meeting reinforce our local work, AND it’s a great opportunity for new people — pastors, leaders, members, friends — to get a personal taste of what our collective community power feels like.   We’re looking to fill at least one bus with 50 people from Washtenaw, so please start talking it up within your congregation, organization, or network, and let Tad ( ) know as you have people sign up.

WeROC Monthly Meeting Thurs 9-1 5:30

What: WeROC Monthly Meeting
When: THIS Thursday, Sept 1, 5:30-7:15pm
Where: Trinity Lutheran Church ELCA, 1400 W. Stadium, Ann Arbor (Just west of the stadium)
Hope you can make the important WeROC Monthly Meeting this Thursday, in Ann Arbor

Hello, WeROC supporters…

Democracy is what WeROC is really all about, right?  Creating ways for members of our community whose voices often aren’t heard, and allies, to organize for action together, so people’s collective voice is amplified and we can make long-overdue social and policy changes really happen.  And elections are a time when democracy is out in the open.

For WeROC, election time is far from the only time when we need to creatively use our democracy for positive change, but it’s sure an important time — especially during a wild year like this one. On Thursday, we’ll hear from our MOSES friends about the powerful “Integrated Voter Engagment” approach to the election season — and how we can make good things happen in November while at the same time building our power as grassroots organization.  So that AFTER the election results are tallied in November, we can make sure that the community isn’t forgotton.  And we’re being presented with exciting opportunties to engage on things like…
Helping voters understand where local candidates in key races stand on issues we care about.
Making sure we win big in Washtenaw County on the vote for Regional Transit.
And a sneak peek at the longer-term statewide campaign to win fair election districts and stop gerrymandering over the next year.
PLUS: a preview of the October 8 MOSES Public Meeting, where we’re needed to help build the numbers to win on regional and state issues.
Note to Ypsi area folks:  Rita Paye has graciously invited us to meet at her church in Ann Arbor…let’s face it — with most meetings being in eastern Washtenaw, it’s only fair to our Ann Arbor sisters and brothers have a chance to meet closer to them once in a while, right?  Should be easy access and parking at Trinity Lutheran, just start a little early!

That’s THIS Thursday, Sept 1, 5:30-7:15pm, Trinity Lutheran Church ELCA, 1400 W. Stadium, Ann Arbor (Just west of the stadium).

Also, please read the Statement from our EMU American Federation of Teachers colleagues and co-founder organization about the attempted intimidation by the Eastern Michigan University Administration..


Reflections on the Current Moment and WeROC’s Role

A message from a WeROC organizer, Tad Wysor, of Ypsilanti MI:

“Hello, sisters and brothers…

Late last night, after the phenomenal [Black Lives Matter / Police Task Force meeting at Ypsilanti High School] event that I was able to witness for a couple of hours, Jim Anderson (who gave a powerful personal testimony to the crowd and the public officials) called me, and we found ourselves unpacking a little of all the intense history-making that seems to be swirling around us in real time right now. For what it’s worth, I wanted to share one brief insight that emerged for me out of that conversation.

What was so amazing to me is what happens when power is more balanced, even if for a brief moment. In the YHS auditorium, filled beyond capacity, dozens of people who don’t share my background or privilege felt able to do something very rare, to speak, in public from their hearts and personal experience about how the deep insidious workings of the “dominant narrative” we’re all immersed in, but that people who look like me do much more than our share to maintain and benefit from. Given an opportunity to feel safer and more supported than usual, they were able to express their anger and disgust and frustration, and also wisdom, love, and hope, in a much more public and powerful way than is usually possible.


Jim Anderson speaks of his experiences at Ypsilanti Black Lives Matter / Police Task Force Meeting, 7/11/16

There was also the widespread expectation that it would all lead to nothing. To me, this was not so much cynicism, but just a sickening fact. Potential wannabe allies like me most of the time go back to our comfortable realities. And whatever brief shift of power toward working people and lower income people and people of color they were able to create then quickly dissipates.

This is huge, and complex, and deeply rooted, I know. But, really, it may not be as complicated as we usually make it, you know. Last night, in just a few hours, people who haven’t had nearly enough voice showed me how quickly they can build a sense of community solidarity and power, and how effectively they can get the serious attention of public decision-makers, if only briefly.

That’s where WeROC and MOSES come in, right? No local organization is better situated right now to help turn this flash of healthy grassroots power into something more long-term. Maybe we need to consider finding the time and leadership and resources for a major, well-designed community organizing training event (or events), where a lot of people personally facing these issues on a daily basis have a rare chance to explore together these issues of how power really works, how to more effectively build it in healthy ways, how to strategically use it, when and how to join with potential allies who aren’t directly affected (like me) — and how to help each other generate and support powerful and savvy new community leaders. And how to make this a long-term enterprise, not just a brief reaction to a horrible moment.

That’s the kind of thing that will be on my mind as I try to listen and learn tonight. To the extent that some of this makes sense to others, I hope we’ll consider some serious conversations soon about some kind of action like this. I’m obviously motivated to do what I can to help it happen, but I’m wide open to suggestions. Our unique WeROC project may be needed right now as much as we ever have been. — Tad


Pastor Jeff Harrold reflects on structural racism at ICPJ/Faith Leaders Forum rally at Liberty Plaza in Ann Arbor 7/12/16


WeRoc Meeting of the Whole – Thurs July 7

What: WeROC July Meeting of the Whole
When: Thursday July 7
Where: Ekklesia Fellowship Ministries, 123 N Adams, Ypsilanti, MI 48197
Parking: Please park on the street, in the city lot across the street, or at First Congregational UCC up the block.
Light dinner provided.

Engage with other smart, committed, caring folks as we consider moving in these areas…

  • Support for a strong Washtenaw vote in November for a solid Regional Transit Master Plan — jobs for our area, and sensible transit at last between Ann Arbor, Ypsi, and Detroit and the region,
  • Update from the planning team considering new WeROC initiatives to dismantle structural racism and the “dominant narrative” about race that is all around us,
  • Continued work to support young people in our area who are making their voice heard on restorative practices and reducing unnecessary suspensions and expulsions — all a part of resisting the ugly attacks on our public schools, with their racial connotations,
  • Backing up our labor and student friends at EMU as they creatively show that privatization is no way for our public institutions to go — especially at a time when we need to build up working people and young people in our area, not participate in a dangerous race to the bottom,
  • Teaming up with small businesses for economic justice efforts like Earned Paid Sick Time,


  • We’ll learn more about new resources for using the current political season as a way to build — not just for education during the elections, but to be a growing factor AFTER the voting is over.
  • We expect to vote to approve the much-discussed WeROC Bylaws.
  • We’ll find out more about the Gamaliel Network National Leadership Training this summer that several WeROC leaders already have under their belt.  Interested?  Let us know…

Oppose EMU Privatization of Food Services

The press release below explains the impressive case that EMU students, union employees, and other allies are making that there is no need for this rush to privatize food services at EMU, especially without a chance for the Administration to work with all concerned. Please sign the on-line petition, and if you can, come to the
Press Conference at 5 pm today Tuesday 6/14 at the EMU Library, Halle Auditorium.

And for the future…

Please plan to join us for our July “First Thursday” WeROC Meeting of the Whole, Thurs July 7, 5:30-7:15, at Ekklesia Fellowship Ministries, 123 N Adams in Ypsilanti. The leaders of our Action Teams will have updates on their grassroots work to build our collective voice for a more just Washtenaw.

News from EMU All Union Council

Media advisory — For immediate release, June 14, 2016
Contact:  Roger Kerson, rkerson@gmail.com734.645.0535

Students, Workers Say EMU Must Delay Decision to Outsource Dining Services
Likely new vendor, Chartwells, has served “mold, human hair and insects” to high school students;
Online Petition and Open Letter To Regents Call for Open Process, University-Wide Consultation

 Ypsilanti – Students and workers from Eastern Michigan University called today for a one-year delay before any decision to outsource EMU Dining Services to a private contractor.

An online petition at, which has already drawn hundreds of supporters, and an open letter to EMU regents call for “students, faculty, workers and their unions” to be consulted before any decision is made.

“When the majority of student stakeholders are absent from the table, then we are on the menu,” said Steve Kwasny, a student majoring in history and political science at EMU. “We eat this food. I strongly believe students should be considered before a major change in food services.”

At a media briefing on the EMU campus, union representatives questioned the apparently hasty bidding process for Dining Services, which provides services to thousands of students, faculty, workers and visitors.

On April 25th of this year a request for proposals (RFP) for food services was released by EMU’s Director of Purchasing at 4:23 pm, requiring an RSVP to a “MANDATORY” meeting the next day just 37 minutes later at 5 pm.

“What’s the big rush?” said Jason Crispell, president of AFSCME Local 3866, the union representing food service and maintenance workers at EMU.  “There are millions of public dollars at stake here, as well as the health and well-being of thousands of students – and the jobs of our members.”

“What we’re saying is, this is a big decision,” said Crispell. “Let’s take some time and get it right.”

Up to 70 current EMU employees could lose their jobs if Dining Services is outsourced to a private contractor. The likely new vendor for food services at EMU is Chartwells, a subsidiary of a British firm called The Compass Group.

According to The Washington Post, students at a Connecticut high school served by Chartwells report “food that sometimes features mold, human hair, dangerously undercooked meats, insects and portion sizes fit for a small, starving child.”

“We’ve already seen the disasters that can happen when food service is privatized in Michigan,” said Howard Bunsis, a professor of accounting at EMU’s school of business and treasurer of the EMU-AAUP faculty union. “The private company that was hired in Michigan prisons prepared food that was contaminated with maggots. Let’s not make the same mistake with our students.”

The Michigan Department of Corrections terminated its contract with Aramark, Inc. after maggots were found in food preparation areas and 90 employees were dismissed for offenses including smuggling drugs into prisons, having sex with inmates, and participating in an alleged murder-for-hire plot.

Comments from petition signers who support a “a fair and inclusive process” before outsourcing EMU Dining Services include the following:

“There are rarely any real benefits to privatization. There are several other industries you can turn to for examples (child welfare, prisons, etc), and in almost every time the results are not positive.”

“As a faculty member and mother of 4 students at EMU, I think the current quality of dining services is excellent.”

“Privatizing always ends in poor service with devastating results for workers, usually with little in cost savings.”

“Having worked at multiple Universities and Colleges, I can only say that when dining services are privatized, the quality of food and service hit tremendous lows, while the increase in cost is outrageous. Please do not do this. It will send your tuition (board) higher and cause students who cannot afford it to eat off-campus even if they have a board plan.”

“Privatization has a track record of degrading working environments, service and quality.”


The EMU All Union Council includes unions representing tenure and nontenure-track faculty, food service and maintenance workers and clerical employees at EMU.  Member unions include EMU-AAUP, the EMU Federation of Teachers Local 9102, AFSCME Local 3866, and UAW Locals 1975 and 1976.