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Posted on Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 7:04 p.m.

Driskell and Zemke take oath of office, reiterate pledge to make education a top priority

By Ryan J. Stanton


State Rep. Gretchen Driskell, D-Saline, takes the oath of office on Wednesday, joined by her three children — Ryan, Matt, and Marielle. House Assistant Clerk Rich Brown swore in the 110 members of the Michigan House in the constitutionally mandated event that kicked off the 2013-14 legislative session.

Courtesy photo

Washtenaw County's two newest representatives in the Michigan House reiterated their pledge to make education a top priority as they were sworn into office on Wednesday.

State Reps. Gretchen Driskell, D-Saline, and Adam Zemke, D-Ann Arbor, replace Republicans Mark Ouimet and Rick Olson as the 2013-14 legislative session officially kicks off.

Driskell now represents the 52nd District, which includes northern and western Washtenaw County, including Saline, Manchester, Dexter, Chelsea, Scio Township and Whitmore Lake.


State Rep. Adam Zemke, D-Ann Arbor, takes the oath of office on Wednesday, joined by his father Frederick Zemke, stepmother Lori Zemke, sister Michelle Zemke, aunt Jaime Lehto, and grandmother Ann Lehto.

Courtesy photo

She said it's been a privilege to serve as the mayor of Saline for the past 14 years and she's excited to be able to apply her experience to addressing the district's concerns.

"I'm honored to have the opportunity to represent the citizens of my district," Driskell said. "The voters told me that education is their top priority, and I will focus on improving our state's education funding and ensuring that our children have the tools they need to succeed."

Zemke, a graduate of Ann Arbor Public Schools and Michigan State University, echoed Driskell's sentiments on education.

"The voters of the 55th District have told me time and time again that education is our No. 1 form of economic development," Zemke said. "The University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw Community College are vital to our local economy. That's why improving our state's education system is one of my top priorities as a legislator."

The most recent legislative session saw the GOP-controled Legislature cut funding for K-12 schools and higher education, including a 15 percent hit to public universities.

Zemke now represents the 55th District, which includes part of the city of Ann Arbor, part of the city of Milan, and all Ann Arbor, Pittsfield, York and Augusta townships.

He encourages residents with issues or concerns related to state government to contact his office at 517-373-1792 or email him at

Just the same, Driskell encourages residents to contact her office at 517-373-0828 or email her at

Zemke announced earlier this week that Brian Marl, who is Saline's new mayor, will serve as his legislative director. Marl previously served as legislative assistant to Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, and as legislative aide to former Rep. Kathy Angerer, D-Dundee.

Brad O'Conner will serve as the director of constituent relations for Zemke. O'Conner previously served as campaign manager for Zemke and Circuit Judge Carol Kuhnke.

Anna Zinkel will serve as Driskell's constituent relations aide. A University of Michigan graduate, she previously worked on Driskell's campaign as an events coordinator and finance assistant.

Washtenaw County's other two state representatives — Irwin and David Rutledge, D-Superior Township — also returned to their posts on Wednesday, as did state Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor. With the exception of Republican Randy Richardville, whose Senate district cuts into lower Washtenaw County, the county is now entirely represented by Democrats in the Legislature.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 11:35 a.m.

Jennifers ghosts.....


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 7:11 a.m.

If they want to help education, they should cut funding until the schools focus on education rather than lining the pockets of union members. This is especially true of universities which have abandoned teaching in favor of lucrative, and largely worthless "research". We won't have better education until the teacher's unions are eliminated and until the universities get back to their core mission of teaching, not leeching taxpayer funds with endless "studies" that just enrich greedy profs.

Eat Local A2

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 5:23 a.m.

Hate to interrupt your partisan cheerleading Ryan, but Senator Richardville represents a good part of Washtenaw County. Perhaps if you get around to it, you could inform us how Marl, being a part time mayor of a city and simultaneously a state House staffer is both legal (apparently it is) and not a major ongoing conflict of interest (which it certainly will be for many issues).


Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

Yes and Richardville is the scum that cheated on his wife and made a special law to help his buddy (who's not even in the same district) avoid taxes on a mortgage.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 7:53 p.m.

You're right, Eat Local A2. Richardville does still technically represent parts of southern Washtenaw in the Senate. I've added a sentence to note that in the story.


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 3:20 a.m.

Interesting neither mentioned making education more affordable for residents. Insuring universities and school districts more money does not insure a better or More affordable education for the residents. Lets hope they are working for the residents and not the school unions Just sayin


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 4:03 p.m.

BINGO! Not counting Ryan's comment (as he is commenting on his own story), school union bashing has officially begun on the 3rd comment. To be honest, I am almost surprised it didn't happen earlier.

Fred Schaible

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 2:57 a.m.

Ryan- Great story, thanks for the update. Just a quick FYI western Washtenaw is represented by a Republican in the Senate. Just to be fair to your statement that all of Washtenaw is represented by Democrats in the Legislature.


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 4:27 p.m.

Ryan, While Rebekah Warren is the only member of the Senate from Washtenaw County, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville from Monroe currently represents most of Southern Washtenaw County including Saline and Milan, along with the townships of Pittsfield, York, Lodi, Saline, Bridgwater and Manchester.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 3:22 a.m.

Fred, I see what you're getting at. Your statement could be true starting in 2014 if Joe Hune, the Republican holding the 22nd District seat now, or another Republican, wins election. As it stands now, Washtenaw County voters, including western Washtenaw, elected Rebekah Warren in 2010 to represent them for four years in the Senate. Even though the district boundaries were since redrawn, they don't have any practical effect for the Senate until the 2014 election, so Warren technically still represents the western Washtenaw constituents who voted for her, though Hune, if he wants their vote in 2014, would be politically wise to start representing western Washtenaw residents, too. It's one of those funny political gray areas.


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 2:56 a.m.

finally some people talking some sense!! so excited that Adam Zemke is in office...people of my time on their way to doing big things!!

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 12:12 a.m.

For anyone keeping count, Zemke and Driskell are among 28 news state lawmakers getting started on the job: The Dems gained 5 seats and the Republicans lost 5 seats in the 2012 election, giving the GOP a 59-51 advantage in the 110-member House.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 12:13 a.m.