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Posted on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 10:52 a.m.

Saline Mayor Gretchen Driskell confirms she will challenge Mark Ouimet for state House seat

By Ryan J. Stanton

Saline Mayor Gretchen Driskell has officially announced she's running against state Rep. Mark Ouimet for a seat in the Michigan House of Representatives.

Driskell, a Democrat, plans to challenge Ouimet, a Republican, in the November general election, claiming the people in her district are not being adequately represented.

The longest-serving and first female mayor in Saline's history has launched a Facebook event page complete with a campaign logo to invite more than 250 people to her campaign kickoff party Tuesday night at Mangiamo, 105 W Michigan Ave., in Saline.


Saline Mayor Gretchen Driskell will take on Mark Ouimet for a chance to represent western Washtenaw County in the state House.

Angela Cesere |

"As a Realtor and mom, I know from personal experience the hard times many Michiganders are facing and I want to help turn this state around," Driskell writes on the page. "That is why I am running to represent the 52nd District in the Michigan House of Representatives."

Nether candidate faces opposition in the August primary yet.

Driskell spoke with about her campaign Friday morning. Asked why she doesn't think Ouimet is doing a good job in office, Driskell cited the incumbent's votes to cut education funding and shift the state's tax burden from corporations to individuals.

"We've been cutting education on all levels and I think the key to the future of our state is having a successful education system," Driskell said. "So I'd like to see that addressed, and I also think we're not representing our people. We've taken some huge tax cuts at the corporate level that have impacted individuals in a negative way."

Driskell also said she's concerned about pending legislation to eliminate the personal property tax without fully making up for the lost revenue to local governments.

She also cited concerns about the state taking away the rights of local governments to offer domestic partner benefits to their employees, another measure Ouimet supported.

"The whole thing around the retraction of domestic partner benefits I felt was unnecessary and it's showing the rest of the world we don't support the 21st century model for what makes a successful community, which is diversity and supporting individual rights," she said.

Driskell elaborates more on her reasons for running on her Facebook page, saying Lansing has cut community development programs and put business before people.

"I believe a more educated population will give us a greater competitive edge globally than the giant corporate tax cut that was implemented last year," she writes. "There needs to be a better balance when creating a competitive business climate, which can be implemented without devaluing local assets like education, environment and quality of life."

Driskell faces an uphill battle challenging Ouimet, who has more than $111,600 on hand for the 2012 election cycle, according to campaign finance reports from January.

An ally of Gov. Rick Snyder, the Scio Township Republican won a previously Democratic district in 2010 and the district, representing mostly western Washtenaw County, has been redrawn now to include more Republican territory.


Mark Ouimet

The 52nd District includes all of western Washtenaw County, including Chelsea, Dexter and Manchester, as well the city of Saline, and Salem and Northfield townships. Geographically, it represents the majority of the county and no longer has any portions of Ann Arbor.

Ouimet spoke with on Friday and said he respects Driskell on a personal level and considers her a friend, but he disagrees with her on a philosophical level.

"I've had several conversations with her this past year," he said. "Clearly she was more frustrated with the direction the state was taking. She very much wanted to have the state where it was, to go back to the old polices of the Granholm administration, and I understand her frustration with change and how difficult it is for some people to work through that change."

Ouimet defended his positions on the issues where he and Driskell disagree, arguing the reformed tax system in Michigan gives tax relief to 95,000 small businesses. He also pointed out the state's proposed budget for next year calls for increased education funding.

The Michigan Townships Association in January named Ouimet its Legislator of the Year, citing the way he guided legislation through the House Local, Intergovernmental and Regional Affairs Committee during 2011. In all, more than two dozen pieces of legislation passed through Ouimet's committee and were enacted into law last year.

Ouimet's first assignment was to hold hearings on controversial reforms to Michigan's emergency manager law, reforms that were quickly signed into law.


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.


janet bigalke

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:31 a.m.

My household has been inundated with negative mail re. Gretchen Driskell, much of it misleading. Since this seems to be the the only platform Mark Ouimet has to run on, I am voting for Gretchen.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 6 p.m.

Nice to see most of the comments here are pro Mark. Sad to see that the negative ones are not backed up with facts and people still think he named is spelled with a Q. Despite a negative campaign launched at the 11th hours in 2010 by the Washtenaw County Dems Ouimet made it through. He was sent to Lansing by people from both parities and that will not change in 2012

Linda Knight

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 5:47 p.m.

I find it interesting that Gretchen thinks she is the person who should take on Ouimet. I have lived in Saline for most of my life. I will tell you that the only reason why she is still the Mayor is because no one ran against her in her last 3 elections. I personally always wrote someone in. Like someone said before.... This is the best of both worlds, we get rid of her as a mayor and out of politics completely with a loss to Ouimet. She may think she is known in Saline but just wait until she walks outside the city limits and into the big world of politics outside of Saline. Hold on to your hat. You aren't in Saline anymore Gretchen.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

As an independent voter in the 52nd, I will be voting for Mark- he has done a great job in Lansing and for our District. He is everywhere and at every function to support our community! I agree that Driskell would be a very poor choice to represent us. Keep up the good work Mark!


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

Mark Ouimet should be re-elected to represent the 52nd District. He was sent there to make the difficult decisions that the prior administration was unwilling to make and was comfortable blaming everyone but themselves. It would be a step back to send Driskell to represent us because she wold want to regress to the prior policies. She is out of touch with the needs of this district. Mark is a dedicated public servant who will continue to work to make our District as well as Michigan a successful and prosperous state in which to live! By the way, isn't Frank Groenert the chair of the Western Wastenaw County Democratic Group and didn't he lose badly to Mark in a county commissioner election? Some Bi-partisan comment from him!


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

THANK YOU Mayor Driskell! I'll be there to help!

Lac Court Orilles

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 11:05 a.m.

This is great news! We certainly don't need narrow minded people like Mark Quimet bashing public school students and their teachers anymore. Quimet needs to pay for all the damage he did to our children and public schools. Mark Quimet needs to own up to the fact that the 95,000 businesses (Limited Liability Corporations) are all wealthy people making over $330,000/year who now pay NO state income taxes while retirees making a tenth of this amount or less got a 100% tax increase and whom can least afford it. Mark Quimet needs to pay for his greed and corruption.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 5:46 p.m.

Wow I dont know where to begin. First off, his name is Ouimet not Quimet so glad you are so well informed. Secondly, the idea that all LLC owners make over 300,000 is absolutely NUTS. Small businesses are the back bone of our economy and they must be helped Ouimet gets that which is why he will be going back to Lansing.

Basic Bob

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

"95,000 businesses... are all wealthy people... who now pay NO state income taxes" The truth is, they pay income tax on everything they make on their personal tax returns. You can't hide money in an LLC, it is income just as much as if you receive a W-2 from your job. If they really make $330k they are in a high tax bracket and pay their fair share in personal income tax. How much does the corporation you work for pay in taxes?

average joe

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 11:40 a.m.

Would you mind elaborating where you pulled your stats from? Simply by you researching this, at least one of us will learn something.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 11:19 p.m.

She's been at my door too! Very personable, smart and really listened to what I felt was going on right now. Maybe Morris should contact her personally to see if she's open-minded instead of guessing she isn't from a piece of paper, isn't that the point of a survey? Her number's on there by the way. Should be an interesting race...

Michigan Man

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 9:36 p.m.

Mark Ouimet will be re-elected in a route, blow out and/or crushing winning vote total. Election results, in Mark's favor, will remind the folks of Michigan football scores back in the 70's!

Larry Langly

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 9:36 p.m.

Ouimet has been a disaster. The only thing he is good at is being at events that the newspaper is covering so he can put himself in the picture. A true politician to the tee. The only "educated" voters that would vote for this guy are those that strictly vote Republican for every vote no matter the issue or person.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 5:44 p.m.

Larry, Ouimet has been great! You must keep in mind the tough choices he has had to make. He has been the point man on a number of pieces of critical legislation and is respected by both Democrats and Republicans. Let's try and back up with facts instead of pointless attacks. I will be voting for Mark again I may not always agree with his votes but I know he will take the time to listen to what I have to say and consider that when voting.

Basic Bob

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 10:36 p.m.

If this comes down to a race between party line voters, Ouimet will win easily. That is what redistricting strategy is about, increasing the likelihood that the party hacks can determine in advance the outcome of the election. The election becomes a matter of probability and statistics, and "education" (or ignorance) of the voters makes no difference.

John Q

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 8:13 p.m.

With Driskell in the race, this district will be a top tier race for both parties. The GOP knows that they are likely to lose the Michigan House and losing a seat like this after redistricting would be a disaster for them.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 8:11 p.m.

Driskell faces far more challenges than Ouiment's present $111,600 bank account. Someone in the local Democratic Party has sold her a bill of goods; as they could not talk anyone else into running against Ouiment. Driskell should have been content with her present role as Mayor of Saline; at least until Ouiment is term limited on this 52nd District seat. Ouiment did a great job as our County Commissioner and he has done a fantastic job so far as our State Representative. Ouiment deserves a second term in the House of Representatives and most importantly we need him there.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 8:40 p.m.

As a commercial realtor Driskell knows more than anyone just how important those tax breaks are to corporations and consequently the municipalities that those corporations are located in. She is talking out both sides of her mouth already and the campaign hasn't even really started yet. Ask her boss at Swisher how important those tax breaks are to the local economy.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 8:24 p.m.

I got so excited when I read that Driskell got talked into ending her fine political career by losing to Ouimet..... I spelled his name wrong. Please accept my apology!

John Q

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 8:15 p.m.

Driskell will be able to hammer the Republicans for cutting funds for schools and local governments to fund tax cuts for businesses. She'll be able to remind voters that the GOP raised taxes on almost every state taxpayer, not just those with pensions. Lots of GOPers are going to be running away from their record this fall.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 6:31 p.m.

Are voters really dumb enough to believe this? "Driskell cited the incumbent's votes to cut education funding and shift the state's tax burden from corporations to individuals." The state cut the U of M budget and they move up on the university scale reported last week and individuals buy stuff from corporations so Individuals always get stuck paying the bill. Econ 101 DAAA!

Frank Grohnert

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 5:48 p.m.

Isn't it ironic that the organization that names Ouimet "legislator of the year" represents the governmental units that can be taken over by the same draconian law that began in Ouimet's committee? Talk about voting against one's best interests. Yay for Gretchen Driskell. She will be a true bi-partisan representative of the 52nd District.

Top Cat

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 5:12 p.m.

Ah yes, all the people longing for the glory days of Granholm and Cherry.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

Pro-business is considered good in both camps. The real concern has to do with the elimination of local government control and the manipulating of the education system in favor of big business. As for going backwards, the GOP has pretty much made it their platform with regards to social issues. We need balance and leadership in Lansing, not lemmings.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 4:05 p.m.

Hmmmm "We have always been considered pro business," 1-11-2012 "Driskell elaborates more on her reasons for running on her Facebook page, saying Lansing has cut community development programs and put business before people" Will the real Driskell please stand up?

Morris Thorpe

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 3:25 p.m.

Someone in Ms. Driskell's campaign dropped off a questionnaire at our house, supposedly because she wants to understand the issues we care about. The questions were laughably slanted, along the lines of "Do you support Gov. Snyder's plan to cut school funding in favor of big businesses and oil companies?" That told me all I need to know about Ms. Driskell. She does not want to know what I think. She wants my personal info to spam me. Ms. Driskell is not interested in true discussion or open to different viewpoints. All of which also means she would be a great for in Lansing!

Morris Thorpe

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 4:15 p.m.

Steve, as a voter, why should I be up to date on campaign protocol? To avoid being scammed? Common practice or not, my point remains.

Steve in MI

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 3:57 p.m.

Morris, that activity is called voter qualification. It's used to identify which voters are predisposed to supporting the candidate's core positions. *ALL* competent political campaigns do it. Anyone who thinks this is a new practice or that it's specific to Ms Driskell's campaign probably needs to catch up on campaign SOP's.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

I am supporting Mark Ouimet who has done an outstanding job. But no Ann Arbor? The Michigan Senate committtee on reapportionment that is now controlled by the GOP has done a great job of making sure Republicans will have favorable state and federal election districts.

Linda Knight

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

He has represented us well!