Former state Rep. Liz Brater hopes to return to Lansing next fall as a state senator.

Paul Wong
Former state Rep. Liz Brater announces her bid for the State Senate yesterday afternoon at Washtenaw Community College,<br><br>DAVID KATZ/Daily

Brater held a press conference at Washtenaw Community College yesterday to announce she is launching a campaign for the state Senate.

“If I am elected to the state Senate, I will work to call attention to the criminilization of people with mental illnesses. Fifteen of Michigan”s 21 mental health hospitals were closed during the 1990s,” Brater said. “It is a good objective to get the mentally ill out of hospitals and into society. However, the money did not follow them out of the hospitals. Many people with mental illnesses fall through the cracks and end up in homeless shelters or in prisons. One of every eight general fund dollars goes to corrections. Much of this money should be rerouted to mental health.”

Brater joins state Rep. John Hansen of Dexter in the race to replace state Sen. Alma Wheeler Smith in the November 2002 election. Smith, who can”t run for the 18th District seat again because of term limits, is a candidate for governor.

Other than mental health, Brater lists slant oil drilling in the Great Lakes, water and air pollution, the problem of urban sprawl, public education and campaign finance reform as key issues of her campaign.

“I am firmly against slant oil drilling in the Great Lakes. Slant oil drilling and urban sprawl are the most pressing environmental issues in Michigan,” said Brater, an Ann Arbor Democrat. “Urban sprawl is the cause of all environmental problems in Michigan. If we continue the current trend, between 1990 and 2020 there will be a 12 percent increase in population and a 70 percent increase in land use. This drains central cities” populations and causes stress on our environment.”

Through a campaign website, lizbrater.com, Brater plans to supply her supporters with information concerning her platform and campaign events before the Democratic primary in August.

“It”s going to be a busy 10 months. I am looking forward to getting back into the streets to talk to the people of Michigan and I am looking forward to continued support from the people of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti,” said Brater, whose husband Enoch is an English professor at the University.

In December 2000, term limits put an end to Brater”s six years in the Michigan House of Representatives, where she served the 53rd District.

Brater entered politics in 1988, when she was elected to the Ann Arbor City Council. In 1991, she became the first woman elected mayor in the city of Ann Arbor.

“I never decided to get into politics that”s not really a rational thing to do instead I got involved because I am passionate about the issues,” Brater said.

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