Ingham County Chronicle staff writer
In a fast-approaching November election, voters will decide the future for current senior ranking house democrat and Ingham County Clerk hopeful, Barb Byrum.
Byrum, a Michigan State University agri-business and law grad, hardware store owner and mother of two, has reached term limits in her sixth year as the state representative for the 67th southern Ingham County District. She serves on the House Committee on Redistricting and Elections and has been a leader on election reform issues.
Byrum received national political attention in June when she and State Representative Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield) were banned from speaking on the republican, male dominated house floor after using the word “vasectomy” and “vagina” in speaking about their concerns and opposition to anti-choice legislation.
Along with wide name recognition and a largely democratic voter population and county board, Byrum is favored in the upcoming election to replace retiring clerk, Mike Bryanton.
In trying to engage and educate a younger audience in the somewhat complicated components of an election, Byrum said she looks forward to continuing to produce the non-partisan ballot newsletter explaining state proposals, as well as utilizing social media tools.
“We need to utilize social media. I’m known for my use in social media, and I look forward to continuing that to make sure people know how the clerk’s office can help them, and how the clerk’s office can serve them,” said Byrum.
In addition, Byrum is strongly in favor of repealing Roger’s Law, a law that affects primarily students and forces them to register to vote at the address listed on their driver’s license.
Students going to school outside of their hometown must either return home and sign a waver requesting an absentee ballot, or change their permanent address on their license to their current school address.
First-time voters however, are not allowed to vote absentee if they register by mail, and students that choose to use their campus address would be forced to update every time they moved. First-timers can get around this by requesting an absentee ballot in person from their local clerk.
“I believe it suppresses the student vote, I have supported a repeal of Roger’s Law and I hope one day a governor in our state will sign that appeal, said Byrum”
Byrum said the biggest change she would make in the new position is a focus on costumer service and outreach. She said it was unacceptable that in the last election, results were not readily available for the people.
“The clerk’s office is not exactly customer service focused, and the website is horrible, said Byrum. I think the clerk’s office needs to focus on welcoming every person that walks through the door with a smile, just to start. Then really make the focus on serving the people rather than having them appear to be a bother.”
Along with approachability concerns, Byrum aims to enhance user-friendliness of the website to engage more citizens to be involved with their local government.
Her republican opponent, Barry Damon, is a Holt High School grad, father and grandfather, former mediator for the sheriff’s department and judicial system, and a Vietnam military veteran. According to Byrum, he has ran a quiet campaign.
Damon ran unsuccessfully for county commissioner two years ago and unsuccessfully for county clerk four years ago.
Damon was unable to be reached for an interview.
341 S. Jefferson, PO Box 179
Mason MI 48854
Phone: (517) 676-7201
Fax: (517) 676-7254
Veterans Memorial Courthouse
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Lansing MI 48933
Phone: (517) 483-6454
Fax: (517) 483-6421
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