Brian Stone has announced his candidacy for Wayne County Commissioner in District 13. Members of the community who vote in the City of Dearborn or the City of Allen Park, are able to vote in this race. Commissioner Gary Woronchak is the current county commissioner. He is running for state senate, so there will be no incumbent in the 13th district seat, but Stone has two opponents -Trent Wolf and Sam Baydoun.
Stone, who ran for state senate in 2016, is the communications director for State Rep. Steve Bieda (D-Warren). Bieda is running for Michigan’s 9th Congressional District.
Stone, a Navy veteran, has received numerous awards and medals for his distinguished service while serving from 2008 to 2012. As a leader in the community, when Stone found out major universities like the University of Michigan and Michigan State University were charging veterans out-of-state tuition, he mobilized veterans across the state to advocate for new policies.
When Michigan legislators proposed discriminatory legislation against Arab-Americans in 2016, Stone led the public relations counterstrike that forced both Governor Rick Snyder and the Michigan legislature to back off. He’s consistantly spoken out about the way in which Arab- and Muslim-Americans are mistreated by the media and the public, and frequently speaks out against misrepresentations of Dearborn being under “Sharia.”
The Wayne County Commission and its employees are the legislative branch of county government. The chief role of the commission is to adopt a budget and enact ordinances. The commission also approves contracts, appointments and rules. The money is spent and ordinances are enforced through the administrative branch.
Wayne County, the most populous county in Michigan, is divided into 15 districts, and commissioners are elected every two years in even-year elections.
BTL spoke with him about his platform and his goals for LGBTQ equality in his district.
Can you tell us some about your current platform?
My current platform revolves around three key issues facing Wayne County – public safety, infrastructure and caring for our senior citizens. Right now, Wayne County has a lot of fundamental problems with violent crime. Crime impacts our residents and our image in a negative way. The fact is, everyone deserves to live in safety, no matter who they are. That’s why I’m proud to say I worked with my current county commissioner, Gary Woronchak, to secure a public-private partnership in funding the investigation and prosecution of LGBT hate crimes. The Wayne County partnership with Fair Michigan’s Justice Project amounts to a $1.6 million investment in public safety over the next 10 years. As the county commissioner for Dearborn and Allen Park, I will continue to support efforts to improve public safety in Wayne County. In regards to infrastructure issues, there’s no way around it: Wayne County roads and bridges are the worst. Here in Dearborn, we’ve had to close the Miller road bridge outside of the Rouge plant because of how unsafe it is. It will cost approximately $5 million just to keep it open for five more years after repair. All of that industrial traffic is being diverted to Wyoming Street, which is another heavily damaged county road. Much of our roads issues are due to a lack of funding from the state legislature and congress, but I’m confident I’ll be able to work with our county executive so we can improve processes for identifying when roads and bridges need repair, as well as doing more preventative maintenance that extends their lifespan. Lastly, the county provides many resources that help our seniors. Our current commissioner, Gary Woronchak, has been fantastic about regularly holding educational sessions for local seniors. I want to take the outstanding work he’s done as a commissioner and continue to improve and expand on it.
Why are you the best person for the job?
I’m the only person running who’s served my country in the military and the only one with real experience working with the commission to get funding on the table for public safety. I think I’ve proven, by getting the grant funding to fight hate crimes in Wayne County, that I can be an effective commissioner starting on day one.
How do you hope to fight for LGBTQ equality/issues when you win the election?
Honestly, there’s quite a few improvements we can make as a county on LGBTQ issues. For one, I think we can ensure the county requires that contractors and those receiving grants have a non-discrimination policy that applies to sexual orientation and gender identity. I also think that we can do more for the public health needs of LGBTQ citizens by ensuring we’re providing accurate information regarding substance abuse and doing our best to reduce the spread of HIV. Lastly, I think we have the opportunity to do more training in our courts, prisons and with our police on cultural competency in regards to the LGBT community. In particular, making sure that victims of crime aren’t accidentally re-victimized by officers or judges who might not have any experience interacting with members of our community.
How has being openly gay affected (or not affected) your recent political activity?
In my experience, voters don’t care about it. Voters care a lot more about the fact I’m a Navy veteran and about what I’m going to do to fix the roads. Frankly, if I didn’t have a plan to fix the roads, I wouldn’t like me very much either.
What’s the best way for members of the community to support you leading up to the election?
Donating even a small amount can make a big difference. If you or any of your friends live in the area, volunteering can also be a big help. Votestone.com is a great place to start for both. Last, but not least, if you live in the area but can’t volunteer, consider sharing my campaign’s posts on social media at facebook.com/BrianStoneDearborn/. Anything that helps me get the message out is a big help.