Editor’s note: After 11 years of service on the Washtenaw County board of commissioners, Democrat Jeff Irwin was elected by voters of District 53 to serve as their representative in the Michigan House of Representatives. The district covers most of Ann Arbor, plus parts of Scio, Pittsfield and Ann Arbor townships.
In each of the first two months of his term, Irwin has held meetings for constituents in local Ann Arbor coffee houses – Cafe Verde and Espresso Royale. On Saturday, Feb. 26, The Chronicle caught up with Irwin after his talk with constituents and spoke with him for about an hour. The conversation included a discussion of Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed budget overview. [.pdf of budget overview]
In presenting the interview below, The Chronicle’s conversation with Irwin has been reorganized and edited in some places to achieve greater coherence and focus.
Last Saturday, Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-53rd District) entertained questions and concerns from constituents on a variety of topics, including local interest in the future use of the top of the underground parking structure, which is under construction on the city-owned Library Lot between Fifth and Division streets.
Three blocks east from Irwin’s conversation with constituents, a constant parade of concrete mixers on Division Street headed south across Liberty to the east edge of the Library Lot construction site. They dumped their loads into a pump, and through the course of the day, workers poured around 6,300 cubic yards of concrete. Coincidentally, in his subsequent conversation with The Chronicle, Irwin introduced images involving concrete and construction – he was drawing an analogy between teacher contracts and construction contracts.
We’ve chronicled this conversation in a Q&A format, divided into seven sections: (1) a budget bright spot in Medicaid; (2) education as an area of concern; (3) a lack of sufficient, specific goals associated with the budget; (4) labor relations in general; (5) labor relations in Washtenaw County; (6) Irwin’s relationship with former fellow county commissioner Mark Ouimet, a Republican who’s also now a state rep; and (7) a partisan imbalance in committee appointments.