Daily Staff ReporterAfter serving two four-year terms as clerk of Kent County, Terri Land said she knew it would take a bigger office to improve the administration of elections and drivers’ registration in Michigan.
She did not seek to enlarge the clerk’s office but stepped down from that post and is now the Republican nominee to head the largest clerk’s office in the state – the Michigan Department of State.
After fulfilling her promise to serve only two terms as county clerk, she said yesterday during an interview with The Michigan Daily, “I knew any changes made would have to be done through the secretary of state’s office.”
Land was one of two Republican nominees for a seat on the State Board of Education in 2000. After losing that, she decided entered the fray for the Republican secretary of state nomination.
It was a difficult task from the beginning, involving numerous stops at local party meetings in order to shore up votes from delegates to the Republican State Convention.
Gubernatorial nominee Dick Posthumus’ decision to name her one-time opponent, state Sen. Loren Bennett, as his running mate, cleared her path for the nomination she wanted to succeed term-limited Secretary of State Candice Miller.
Land spoke of the advantages new technology can bring in making the department more customer-friendly.
As of now, registered voters must vote in their respective precincts, but Land says that with computers that will not be necessary anymore. In other words, students could vote for their hometown’s elected officials from Ann Arbor voting precincts using ballots printed when they show their identification.
As for the main differences between herself and her Democratic opponent, Detroit election law attorney Melvin “Butch” Hollowell, Land stressed her experience as the clerk for one of the largest counties in the state.
“I’ve administered hundreds of records for hundreds of thousands of people,” she said, pointing out she has already had to work with numerous local clerks who were not her subordinates, a job the secretary of state also has to do on a larger scale.
With the state facing a tight budget and expected cuts in many departments, Land promised an innovative approach to appropriating funds within the Department of State. That process would begin with funding projects one by one each year, rather than choosing where to cut the money from.
“We need to do zero-based budgeting,” she said, “We need to ask, ‘Do we need this program? Do we need to be doing what we’re doing here?'”
As for improving customer service at local secretary of state’s offices, Land said she would stagger employee work hours, so that when an influx of customers arrive at a branch office the employees are not all on their lunch break.
She supports Miller’s efforts in putting electronic kiosks in shopping malls and putting more branch offices in strip malls, where there are usually more parking spots and easier access for the handicapped.
As for license plate renewal, she said the state could save a lot of paperwork by having a biannual – rather than the present annual – registration.
But one area where she disagrees with the incumbent is in calling for an open primary whereby any voter can choose more than one party’s political nominee regardless of their own personal party affiliation. Land opposes an open primary.
The general election is Nov. 5.

Paul Wong
DAVID KATZ/Daily
Former Kent County Clerk Terri Land says her experiences as a county clerk makes her the most qualified candidate for secretary of state.

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