Continuing his involvement in the community over the past 50 years, Ann Arbor resident and University alum Mike Fried recently announced his plan to run for the Washtenaw County Commissioner position for the 11th district.
Fried has lived in Ann Arbor since 1959, when he was a student at the University. Currently on the Criminal Justice Collaborative Council of the Washtenaw County Commission, Fried said he hopes to amplify his involvement on the commission to address pressing local issues.
Fried — who was the first assistant director of the University’s Institute for Public Policy Studies — currently serves on the board of the Fleetwood Resolution Center and is the treasurer of the Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County.
Fried was the chief of administration at the Wayne County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office after working there for 26 years. Now that he’s retired, Fried said he decided he has the time to take on a leading role in the county.
Fried said his activism in the community allowed him to notice prominent issues within Washtenaw County, prompting him to take a larger role in addressing these problems.
“Right now the county is, as we all are, suffering from some difficult times, and I think I can make a contribution,” he said. “I thought this would be a good opportunity to help out. I’ve been going around asking people what are things they think local government can do to improve the quality of life.”
If elected to serve the 11th district — which includes parts of Ann Arbor — Fried said he plans to address the problem of foreclosure in the county. More than 4,000 Washtenaw County homes are currently being foreclosed on.
Fried also said the county needs to create incentives to encourage the local universities’ graduates to stay in the area rather than moving away and taking their talents with them.
“I think we’ll make more progress if we have a shared vision and can work together to solve our problems,” he said. “You want to keep their talents and attract workers and college graduates into the work force locally.”
Fried’s opponent in the race for county commissioner is LSA senior Yousef Rabhi. At 68, Fried is running against someone almost half a century younger, but he said that doesn’t stop him from thinking he has fresh ideas for the community.
“It is great to have younger people running and it will get both of us more energized and everyone has experiences and something to offer,” Fried said.
Fried said if elected, he also plans to apply his law background to the job by encouraging people to use mediation rather than going straight to court to resolve disputes between local governments and businesses.
In addition, Fried said he hopes to continue some of the projects he worked on as a prosecutor. He was involved in developing a program to stop mentally ill people from cycling through the prison and hospital system and instead working with various groups to place them in halfway houses.
Fried said if elected, he hopes to implement partnerships like this to solve the county’s problems.
“Now is the time when we need collaboration; now more than ever,” he said. “There was a real critical sense that we were doing justice. We started making a difference and that was a very important contribution that was made to the community. It (is) doing things like that (that) are going to help business.”
Fried said he also plans to implement new incentives for businesses in the city to encourage new start-ups.
“That’s a positive trend that is occurring and is accelerating and hopefully we’ll provide more opportunities for those and encourage them to stay here,” he said. “Many of them have started new companies and there is an excitement there and a freshness that really makes (it) optimistic.”
Fried added that if elected he hopes to implement suggestions he’s received from community members while campaigning.
“I plan to work very hard,” he said. “…I’ll feel like I’ve done enough when I’ve worn out my shoes.”