Paid for by Conan Smith for Washtenaw County Commission  |  234 8th Street  |  Ann Arbor, MI  48103  |  Gratitudes and Disclaimers

Bold Ideas

Washtenaw County government is a quiet but powerful influence on quality life in our community, and we can lead on important policies the improve our people’s prosperity and the quality of our environment. Conan has an unmatched track record of bringing people together around complex projects like this. Here are a few of the projects he has been working on this year.

UNIVERSAL PRESCHOOL​

Kids from more than 2,000 Washtenaw families are priced out of preschool, one of our most tested tools for long-term life success.

What We’ve Done

Washtenaw launched Success By 6 a community-wide partnership of 47 government and nonprofit agencies that is driving the expansion of education services for kids 0 to 5 years old.

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Under Conan’s leadership, Washtenaw County and the Intermediate School District consolidated their early childhood education programs, allowing us to  increase full day preschool [/BOLD]service from 170 to more than 900 children each year!

Where to Go From Here

The County Commission may be the only entity that can create universal access to pre-K countywide, and it will only be possible with strong and experienced leadership. We need to design an approach that takes advantage of our existing public pre-K programs and supports our strong private provider network. It will take a public vote for significant funding – perhaps, $14M annually – but the collateral benefits to economic development and our children’s futures are worth it.

CARBON NEUTRAL COUNTY

Washtenaw County government contributes some 20 million pounds of CO2 annually to our atmosphere. Much larger governments have committed to becoming net-zero energy users within the next 20 years. We can and should be stronger leaders in combating global warming.

What We’ve Done

Under Conan’s leadership the County has reduced its carbon footprint by more than 4 million pounds per year. Projects he championed - like installations of solar hot water at the jail and LED lighting in administrative buildings - have cut governmental energy use by 20%.

Where to Go From Here

Conan is leading the effort to install a 5MW solar array to convert 50% of the County’s electricity to renewables. This is a very positive next step but the County also needs to adopt a comprehensive strategy to become carbon neutral. This includes adopting more renewable measures to offset our natural gas usage and converting our fleet to electric and hybrid vehicles. The early steps in the strategy will likely save the County money! These early savings will help us bankroll the measures that are more cost intensive.

A NEW BLUEPRINT FOR AGING

A NEW BLUEPRINT FOR AGING

The “silver tsunami” is coming! Almost 90% of the demographic change in Washtenaw County over the next twenty years is growth comes from Baby Boomers entering their senior years. The demand for services – senior centers, public transportation, health care – is on the rise. Especially in the area of affordable senior housing, we are woefully unprepared.

The “silver tsunami” is coming! Almost 90% of the demographic change in Washtenaw County over the next twenty years is growth comes from Baby Boomers entering their senior years. The demand for services – senior centers, public transportation, health care – is on the rise. Especially in the area of affordable senior housing, we are woefully unprepared.

What We’ve Done

What We’ve Done

Washtenaw once had a robust program for supporting seniors, but budget cuts in the lean years of the economic downturn have left our nonprofit partners scrabbling for funding. We have done very little to remedy this situation. This year, however, Conan convened the leaders of Washtenaw’s senior centers and senior service providers into a coalition that is committed to crafting and funding a new “Blueprint for Aging” in our community.

Washtenaw once had a robust program for supporting seniors, but budget cuts in the lean years of the economic downturn have left our nonprofit partners scrabbling for funding. We have done very little to remedy this situation. This year, however, Conan convened the leaders of Washtenaw’s senior centers and senior service providers into a coalition that is committed to crafting and funding a new “Blueprint for Aging” in our community.

Where to Go From Here

Where to Go From Here

Washtenaw is one of just four Michigan counties that does not have a dedicated senior millage. This could be an important tool for our community. However, first we need to craft a clear strategic plan that outlines the prioritizes the senior services we need – from home care to affordable housing to senior centers. Ensuring Washtenaw is a great place to grow old will require the participation of health care providers, nonprofit agencies and all our local units of government. As an expert in intergovernmental collaboration, Conan is well-positioned to make sure that partnership comes together.   

Washtenaw is one of just four Michigan counties that does not have a dedicated senior millage. This could be an important tool for our community. However, first we need to craft a clear strategic plan that outlines the prioritizes the senior services we need – from home care to affordable housing to senior centers. Ensuring Washtenaw is a great place to grow old will require the participation of health care providers, nonprofit agencies and all our local units of government. As an expert in intergovernmental collaboration, Conan is well-positioned to make sure that partnership comes together.   

A CLEANER WASHTENAW INITIATIVE 

Washtenaw County is home to more than 9,000 polluted sites from old gas stations to the massive 1,4 dioxane plume emanating from the former Gelman site. Our local tools for cleaning up dangerous pollution are limited, and state and federal programs have been eviscerated. To protect public health we need to take on the challenges that others have let fester.

What We’ve Done

Together all of Washtenaw County’s communities manage a single brownfield redevelopment program that allows us to capture future taxes to clean up contaminated sites. Conan proposed the policy that created the Coalition for Action of Remediation of Dioxane (CARD), which coordinates citizen and intergovernmental responses to the Gelman plume. We’ve also catalogued the polluted sites across the County. Our resources to initiate clean-ups, however, are almost nonexistent.  

Where to Go From Here

Conan believe that the County should put a pollution clean-up bond before the voters. Funding from the Cleaner Washtenaw Initiative would be used to tackle our most pervasive and intractable sites, like Gelman and Water Street, which pose systemic threats to our environmental and economic health. This 20-year fund would cost the average county home $25 and provide more than $100M for cleanups.