The Washtenaw County Democratic Party (WCDP) Programs Committee has been working diligently to schedule candidate forums for a number of important primary races in Washtenaw County. In two instances, we have had candidates who either refused to participate, did not show up at the forum, or who have not responded to our invitations.

In the District 5 race for the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, neither Ronnie Peterson or Latitia Sharp showed up for the forum on July 14th, even though accommodation was made for their schedules. Only one candidate, incumbent Commissioner Justin Hodge, participated.

More concerning is the race for District 2 of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners. In this race, we have repeatedly attempted to work with candidate Stephen Ranzini who told us at one point that they only day he could do it was July 1st, the Friday evening of the Independence Day weekend, an obvious non-starter. In sharp contrast, his opponent, Crystal Lyte, has worked cooperatively with our Programs Committee to set a date for the forum.

There are numerous questions being raised about Mr. Ranzini’s candidacy including significant donations to multiple Republicans including Donald Trump. More about that issue can be found in an article at MLive

From that article:

  • Since 2000, Ranzini has given almost $17,000 to state and federal GOP candidates and party causes, according to an analysis of public campaign finance records, which did not include local races. […]
  • [There also] appears to be a single $1,000 contribution to “Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.” in late 2016 after Trump’s presidential election victory, according to Federal Election Commission records, where the donation is reported under “Stephen L. Razini,” a misspelling of the candidate’s last name, but with an Ann Arbor address matching his other donation.
  • The FEC records, reported by the Trump campaign, show three transactions involving “Razini,” though memos included with the documents indicate two of them reflect a redesignation of the initial contribution for use in subsequent elections, rather than multiple, separate donations.

We’re also concerned with his involvement with organizations that are actively opposed to marriage equality, LGBTQ rights, and access to abortion.

These are highly concerning issues given that Mr. Ranzini is running as a Democrat. It is critical that voters be able to ask him questions before they cast their vote but he has refused to engage with our Programs Committee and did not participate in the forum on July 20th.

In order for voters to be able to cast their votes in an informed way, participation in these types of public forums is essential. The WCDP Executive Board wishes to express their profound disappointment at these candidates who appear to be avoiding public questioning about their candidacies.

The bylaws of the Washtenaw County Democratic Party preclude the endorsement of candidates in contested partisan primaries. Nothing in this statement should be construed to be an endorsement by the WCDP of any candidate.