Meet Jeff: 

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I am a passionate public servant. I love helping people and using public policy to make people's lives better. After serving our community for many years as an environmental advocate, a county commissioner, and a state representative, I’m excited to continue making a difference as your next state senator. For too long, Michigan has been neglecting its essential programs and services; we need a new direction and leaders who will make government work again. I know that decisions in Lansing can make a difference in millions of lives, and I know that experienced and principled public servants are best positioned to make those decisions, because I’ve done it. As your next state senator, I will put my experience to work fighting for a better education system, an economy that works for everyone, and equal rights for all citizens.

I am from Sault Ste Marie, MI, but I have lived in Ann Arbor since 1995. Currently, I live in east Ann Arbor, near the intersection of Packard and Platt with my wife, Kathryn, and our two children, Sylvia and Mackinac, who attend Pittsfield Elementary. I came to the area to attend the University of Michigan, where I earned a bachelor's degree in political science. While I was still a student, I took an organizing job with the League of Conservation Voters and later won a seat on the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners. For a deeper dive of my early family life in Sault Ste Marie along with some serious policy talk, check out this interview by Mark Maynard.

I served as a county commissioner for 11 years (1999-2010). During that period, I helped institute many important changes in county government. We worked on issues including juvenile justice, pensions, recycling, and others. Here are a few of the highlights from my service as a county commissioner:

  • Domestic Partner benefits for county employees

  • A living-wage policy

  • A land preservation millage that has protected thousands of acres of natural areas in Washtenaw County.

  • Increased funding for human service priorities like Head Start and affordable housing

  • Extended health insurance to almost ten thousand uninsured workers

One of the things we approved as a commission that I am most proud of, though, is the Delonis Center, which serves the homeless and transitions people into permanent housing. In 2007-2008 I served as chair of the board, and then ultimately left to run for state representative in 2010.

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As a state representative from Ann Arbor's 53rd District, I had an amazing opportunity to make Michigan better. I made the most of the six years I spent in the minority, fighting for what’s right at every turn. I asked tough questions, made pointed amendments, and introduced legislation for:

Fighting for the environment has always been a priority for me, both as a county commissioner and a state representative. For the county, I worked for clean air and clean water with both the national and Michigan League of Conservation Voters, and organized diverse coalitions of activists to fight pollution and promote environmental protection. In the State House, I developed the bipartisan “green tea” coalition to promote community solar and our Energy Freedom legislation.

I also led the fight to opt Michigan into Heat and Eat, leveraging more federal food assistance for low income residents. As a result of my amendment to the budget, more than 325,000 Michigan residents received $75 more every month. This means that, for some residents, they went from receiving $15 a month in food-assistance benefits to receiving $90 a month, an amount that makes a real difference to individuals struggling to afford the basics. In total, this means that some of Michigan’s neediest people are getting an additional $300 million per year.

These are just a few examples of how I serve. I work hard to represent our progressive values and to communicate an alternative vision of a Michigan that works for everyone. Sending me back to Lansing will ensure that the fight for progressive values continues.

I hope that my website answers many of your questions about my public policy priorities and history. If not, feel free to ask my anything at jeff@irwinforsenate.com or 734-834-7152.

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