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Posted on Mon, May 3, 2010 : 5 p.m.

Candidate for 52nd House seat wants to end partisan gridlock, make Michigan a leader

By Ryan J. Stanton

Democrat Jeffrey Lee today announced his candidacy for the 52nd District seat in the state House of Representatives.

A former nonprofit agency director and community enthusiast, the Dexter resident is making his first run for office.


Jeffrey Lee

Lee said he recently left his job with the nonprofit American Association of University Professors and is focusing on running for office. He said his job spurred his decision to enter the political arena.

"In that position, I did a lot of dealing with Lansing — I'd call it government relations — and I got very frustrated with how short-sighted a lot of decisions were and I just was frustrated with the very little progress we were making at the state level," he said. "And I finally decided that instead of complaining about other people's decisions, I was going to take a more active role."

Lee is seeking the 52nd District seat being vacated by Pam Byrnes, who is term-limited and is running for a spot in the state Senate. Other candidates vying for the 52nd District seat include Washtenaw County Commissioner Mark Ouimet, a Republican, and Christine Green, a Democrat.

The 52nd District includes Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester, Saline, parts of Ann Arbor and 13 townships on the west side of Washtenaw County.

A native of Sanilac County in Michigan's Thumb region, Lee came to Ann Arbor in 1991 to study at the University of Michigan and never left. He holds a master's of public policy from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

He said he was considering his options upon graduation, including going out of state for work, and ultimately decided he didn't want to leave Michigan behind.

"If the people who are the best and brightest leave, how are we ever going to improve?" he said, remembering a friend's advice. "I have been here my entire life and I do care about Michigan and I want to stand up and fight for the state. I don't want to just take a view from the sidelines."

Lee said this year's elections must be about finding leaders whose top priorities include revitalizing Michigan and creating an environment where the state's economy and educational system can become the envy of the nation.

“Michigan is not just a state,” he said. “It is not just two peninsulas on a map. For my father, my grandfather and many more, it was the land where dreams met reality — a place where an original idea and hard work could build a life and maybe an empire.

No matter how hard we try, we cannot recreate the golden days of Ford, Durant, Chrysler and Sloan. But we can make it easier to start a business and conduct business. We can give our children a world-class education. And we can make this state the destination of every visionary and entrepreneur around the world who wants to realize their dreams.”

Lee said his campaign will emphasize the need to improve the K-12 school system, properly fund higher education and simplify the business tax structure, especially for small businesses.

He said he hopes to form a broad bipartisan coalition, similar to the Freshman Caucus of 2008, to tackle the state's problems.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:57 a.m.

One thing is for sure, Ouimet will not "work across party lines" if elected. He'll do everything to please the GOP party and not make waves with them. That's been his MO for years -- don't make waves, be everyone's buddy, and take credit for everything he can, whether he was involved or not. He's a classic good-old-boy in the Walberg/Bush model, and we must not elect him.