Janice Winfrey messed up last November, and not in any small way. That much we know. As a matter of fact, everyone knows. Winfrey’s November screw up is the kind of thing that can end a career, and it’s also the kind of thing that emboldened her challenger, Garlin Gilchrist. He saw a major weak spot that he believes just might be enough to shove her aside and make way for new blood.
We don’t make light of the debacle of 2016, where equipment failures and other issues resulted in vote counting discrepancies that caused some to [incorrectly] assert that the inefficiency of her office during one of the most critical presidential elections of our lifetime may have been what handed Michigan — and the presidential victory — to Republican candidate Donald Trump. It’s not a small thing that one can tiptoe around.
But as serious as that mistake was, was it so serious that it should define Winfrey’s entire career? Is it possible that Winfrey has learned enough from what happened last November to make her a sufficiently improved public servant? When asked directly about what she has learned, she responded in the following manner:
“I learned much from the 2016 Presidential Election. The greatest lesson was that, in order to grow from your experiences, you must accept responsibility for them, gain wisdom from it and move forward. After reading the Michigan Bureau of Election’s Audit report, I have worked tirelessly to procure new voting equipment, retrain the Department of Election’s staff on election law and administration and, finally, work with our existing poll worker population and provide them with rigorous training that requires supervisory staff to four training sessions per year. The training provided to our poll workers deals with opening the polls, processing voters, closing the polls, equipment and technology and problem solving.”
The other question that needs to be asked is whether Garlin Gilchrist is truly ready to assume the full range of responsibilities that come with the office of Detroit City Clerk. No one doubts his impressive list of accomplishments and abilities, but what has he done up to now that shows he can handle this? What major organization or department has he run of equivalent size?
Gilchrist’s supporters have every reason to believe in the strong potential of their candidate because his candidacy is exciting and he has a lot to offer. He has certainly proven that he is to be taken seriously with his surprisingly strong showing in the August primary despite having virtually no name recognition. It’s obvious he is an extremely hard worker with the ability to motivate followers and attract funding. But more than that, Gilchrist offers proof that Detroit’s younger generation of leaders is ready and willing to step up and serve and that they possess the skills to do Detroit proud.
But for now, while fully acknowledging her past mistakes, we nevertheless believe incumbent Janice Winfrey has shown a willingness and determination to learn and grow from her missteps while capitalizing on what she has learned from her years of on-the-job experience. If she continues along this path, Detroit’s voters will certainly reap the benefits of a painful lesson learned. Janice Winfrey remains the most qualified choice and should be given the opportunity to serve another term.