Fighting for Democratic Practices after an Emergency Manager Takeover in Michigan: Report from the Trenches

Fighting for Democratic Practices after an Emergency Manager Takeover in Michigan: Report from the Trenches

Session Type(s): Panel

Starts: Thursday, Jul. 17 9:00 AM (Eastern)

Ends: Thursday, Jul. 17 10:15 AM (Eastern)

Since taking office in 2010, Rick Snyder, the corporate-friendly Republican governor of Michigan, has installed 10 so-called “emergency managers” (EMs) to take the place of elected mayors, city councils, and school boards. In 2011 Snyder and the Republican legislature broadened the powers of EMs and essentially replaced local democracy with their political appointees. In 2012, Michigan voters rejected Snyder’s version of the law, but the legislature simply ignored the vote and passed an identical law. The majority of those deprived of their local representation live in cities where people of color are a majority of the population. Despite this profoundly anti-democratic takeover, residents and elected officials keep resisting this abrogation of the rule of law. This panel will feature activists from across Michigan who continue the struggle to regain their city’s autonomy.


Alec Gibbs

I am an attorney who practices labor and employment law in Flint, representing a number of retirees challenging cuts to health care and pensions in cities controlled by emergency managers. I am also an ACLU cooperating attorney and I sit on the board of the Center for Civil Justice, a nonprofit impact litigation firm that advocates for indigent rights.


Brandon A. Jessup

Brandon A. Jessup

Brandon A. Jessup is the Deputy Director East of Data and Technology. He supports and coaches partner organizations in the State Voices network. He also oversees any data-related program work and network-wide reporting.

Brandon brings over a decade of experience developing intelligence systems for civic engagement. His knowledge of field operations and data collection has served as a keystone in state and national progressive campaigns, including statewide ballot initiatives to protect and expand democracy.

Brandon earned his BBA in Computer Information Systems at Eastern Michigan University. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the husband and father was raised in Detroit, Michigan. He’s still calls the Motor City home, and enjoys American automobiles, gardening, and spending quality time with his family.

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Karen Majewski

Karen Majewski began public service on the City of Hamtramck, Michigan’s Historical Commission. She served on city council and as city council president and mayor pro tem before being elected Hamtramck’s first woman mayor in 2005. She was re-elected in 2009 and again in 2013. From 2000 to 2007, Hamtramck was under emergency management under Public Act 72. In 2013 the city again fell under emergency management, under Public Act 436.
Majewski sits on the board of directors of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, and served on the executive board of the MSA’s Millennial Mayors Congress. She is a former board member of the Michigan Municipal League, and served as MML’s president in 2011-2012. She has a Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan, and is Project Manager at the University’s Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy.

Nayyirah Shariff


Nayyirah Shariff is a grassroots organizer based in Flint, Michigan. She has nearly ten years experience organizing for local, state, and national electoral and issue campaigns. She has previously worked in the engineering, higher education, social justice, and youth development sectors.

Maureen Taylor

I am indigenous to Detroit, with ties to all parts of the city, the state, and the nation. I serve as Financial Sec’y of the Nat’l Welfare Rights Union, with a primary task of finding ways to end poverty. I have a Masters Degree in Social Work and have been awarded many local and civic honors.

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