Democratic candidate Liz Brater declared victory in the 18th District State Senate race last night, taking almost 70 percent of the vote in a victory over Republican opponent Gordon Darr, a Scio Township Trustee from Dexter.
Brater takes the Michigan state Senate seat left vacant by Democrat Alma Wheeler Smith, who was unable to run for re-election because of term limits.
A former Ann Arbor mayor, Brater served in the House from 1995 to 2000 and as an Ann Arbor City Council member. She said she looks forward to returning to Lansing to work on the issues that are important to her constituents.
“I’m really looking forward to going back and working for you,” she told the cheering crowd gathered last night at Arbor Brewing Company on East Washington Street as the numbers rolled in.
“I’m very delighted. I’m very grateful for the confidence the voters of Washtenaw County have placed in me and I’m going to work hard to represent them in Lansing,” she said.
Issues including education, environmental issues, health care and rebuilding the Michigan economy top her list of priorities, Brater said.
She added that regardless of who controls Congress, Jennifer Granholm’s position as governor will help assure Democrats of a voice in state government.
“Having a Democratic governor will definitely give us more leverage than we’ve had in the last 12 years because in the last few years we’ve had complete Republican control of Lansing,” she said.
Brater said that either way, Democrats will have the chance to make an impact this term.
“I think no matter if you are in the majority or minority, you have the ability to make an impact. You can use your office to educate people about issues, to hold task forces and to propose legislation that makes a difference,” she said.
With regard to higher education, Brater emphasized the importance of maintaining funding.
“Eastern (Michigan University) and the University of Michigan are very important to me and we need to protect dollars for higher education and try to help keep tuition costs down,” she said.