The Michigan Democratic Party and Democrats from the 7th Congressional District chose leaders for the 2021-22 election cycle at their spring conventions Feb. 20. The conventions took place virtually due to pandemic-driven restrictions on public gatherings.
Conner Wood, chair of the Jackson County Democratic Committee, was elected chair of the 7th District Democrats, and JCDC member Karyl Baker was elected secretary. In addition, several other JCDC members were elected to districtwide party leadership positions.
“I’m honored to have been asked to lead the 7th Congressional District Democratic Party. In taking the reins from Art Luna and Fran Brennan, we have big shoes to fill — and we thank both of them for their years of service,” Wood said.
“My fellow officers and I look forward to working with Democrats from across our district to build up the CD-7 organization, improve cooperation between (and support for) the county parties, and eventually to sending a Democrat to Congress from south central Michigan.”
At the MDP Spring Convention, Lavora Barnes was unanimously re-elected to a second two-year term as MDP chair, and Mark LaChey and Fay Beydoun were re-elected first vice chair and second vice chair, respectively. The conventions ran smoothly, despite the inability to meet in person, and both state and 7th District candidates ran without opposition.
Other 7th District officers are Denise Jennings, vice chair, and Chris Smith, treasurer. The new leadership, organized under the Labor-Unity Slate, represents a broad and diverse group of Democrats from across the 7th District, which covers Jackson, Branch, Lenawee and Hilsdale counties, and parts of Eaton and Washtenaw counties.
Also elected at the district convention, which took place prior to the state party convention, were the following:
State Central Committee
- Male delegates — Derek Dobies, Mike Hayter, Robert Turner, Chris Savage and Pat Ulanowicz
- Female delegates — Leigh Kegerreis, Pamela Shultz, Denise Jennings, Maryann Neopolitan and Terri McKinnon
- Female alternate delegates — Kelsey Heck Wood, Amber Pedersen, Jennifer Fairfield, Karyl Baker and Juanita Kelly
- Male alternate delegates — Ruben Marquez, James Johnson Jr., Glenn Freeman III, Eric Minore and Rob Kull
District Executive Committee
Conner Wood, Denise Jennings, Karyl Baker, Chris Smith, Gretchen Driskell, Austin Clark, Joe Chin, Linda Lauer, Mike Hayter, Virginia Ardis, Chris Savage, Dave McMillan, Pat Ulanowicz, Eric Minore and Terri McKinnon
“This slate is supported by leaders of many prominent progressive organizations and labor unions,” reads a description of the slate. “Our slate is balanced by gender and includes candidates from most counties in the 7th District, including progressive movement activists, representatives from organized labor, and multiple Democratic county party officers (current & former).”