In a closely watched race, Democratic candidate Eli Savit won the race for Washtenaw County prosecutor on Tuesday, receiving 52 percent of the vote, while his Democratic challengers Arianne Slay and Hugo Mack received just 43 percent and 7 percent, respectively.
Raised in Ann Arbor, Savit attended the University of Michigan Law School, where he later taught as a law adjunct professor. He went on to serve as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sandra Day O’Connor (ret.). Before running for Washtenaw County prosecutor, Savit was also appointed as a senior attorney in the office of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.
This year, Savit will succeed former Washtenaw County prosecutor Brian Mackie, who announced his retirement in May 2019 after serving for seven terms since 1993.
Savit has also received national support including endorsements from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and singer-songwriter John Legend.
Throughout his campaign, Savit has highlighted the importance of breaking down the racial and socioeconomic inequity issues in Washtenaw County. He has committed to reforming the cash bail system and prioritizing the prosecution of violent crimes and corporate criminals. Additionally, Savit has placed an emphasis on supporting courts that specialize in aiding veterans or those struggling with mental health issues.
While Savit is not a prosecutor by training, he told The Daily in June that his unique experiences in education and law will provide a new perspective to addressing current issues in the community.
“This is a moment right now that (people) in prosecutor’s offices that have different backgrounds are willing to stand and fight for equality,” Savit said.
In an interview with The Daily, Savit said he believes his goals for criminal justice reform spoke to voters and he is ready to implement those changes as the Washtenaw County Prosecutor.
“I think that the results yesterday showed that across the county, we are really ready for systemic criminal justice reform,” Savit said. “I’m looking forward to ending the criminalization of poverty (and) treating kids like kids… I’m looking forward to all the changes we’re going to make and to usher in a new era for Washtenaw County’s justice system.”
LSA sophomore Grace Stephan worked on Savit’s campaign as a Deputy Finance Director. She said she was motivated to work with Savit’s campaign after understanding his plans to help rehabilitate prisoners who are returning citizens.
“I was really moved by everything he proposed,” Stephan said. “Our justice system is so punitive and not rehabilitative and it’s not really doing anyone any favors…. It’s not really looking to help (people in prison) on the other end when they’re returning citizens. There isn’t a lot set up to help returning citizens, so these are a lot of things that I think we need to change, and that Eli is committed to changing to make the entire system more just.”
As Savit begins his term, he wants to remind college students that Ann Arbor is their home while they are going to school and local elections affect students’’ livelihoods as well.
“We were honored to have built this movement to build this campaign, really, through the hard work of young people,” Savit said. “The core of our campaign were college students, high school students or very recent college (graduates)… If you’re a college student (and) here for four years, this is your home, your prosecutor and your justice system.”
Summer News Editor Kristina Zheng can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.