Ten candidates, including two incumbents, are vying for two eight-year terms on the University of Michigan Board of Regents in the Nov. 6 election.
The candidates are Jordan Acker, Democrat-Berkley; Paul Brown, Democrat-Ann Arbor; Kevin A. Graves, Green Party-Garden City; James Lewis Hudler, Libertarian-Chelsea; John Jascob, Libertarian-Temperance; Regent Andrea Fischer Newman, Republican-Ann Arbor; Regent Andrew Richner, Republican-Grosse Pointe Park; Marge Katchmark Sallows, Natural Law-Brighton; Joe Sanger, U.S. Taxpayers-Lansing; and Crystal Van Sickle, U.S. Taxpayers-Wellston.
The Record contacted the candidates, requesting biographical information, a photo and a platform statement. Seven responded; their information follows.
Political affiliation: Democrat
Background: Born and raised in southeast Michigan, Acker graduated from U-M with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history in 2006. After working for the House Judiciary Committee, Acker began law school just as the economy began falling apart in 2007. He graduated from American University Washington College of Law in 2010, and worked in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel before spending two years as an attorney-adviser appointed by President Obama at the Department of Homeland Security. In 2013, Jordan and his wife returned to Michigan. Since then, he has worked at his family business, Goodman Acker P.C. as the director of business development. He lives in Huntington Woods with his wife Lauren (’07) and his daughters, who already know the words to “The Victors.”
Platform statement: I am running for U-M Regent because ultimately it is time for a new generation of leadership and success at the university. This means not just success in the classroom, in research and on the field, but ultimately to continue to serve as a model of what education in the 21st century should look like: with improved labor relations, making the university more diverse, tackling the affordability crisis head on. To do all these things, we need fresh perspectives. If elected, I will be the first regent who graduated college this century. I’d be the first on the board who graduated with six figures of student debt. We need these new perspectives if we are going to continue to be the leaders and best.
Political affiliation: Democrat
Background: Brown received his Bachelor of Arts and MBA degrees from U-M and his law degree from Wayne State University. He teaches a finance/business class at U-M and is a partner in eLab Ventures, where he invests in and supports technology and life science companies. Brown began his legal career as a law clerk in federal court and then practiced at Skadden Arps. He was vice president of capital markets for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, where he managed the State’s $2B Jobs Fund. Brown created successful loan programs at MEDC during the Great Recession. These programs were profitable and created/saved more than 15,000 jobs, and were adopted by the Obama administration as the $1.5b nationwide SSBCI programs. Brown co-founded and sold Front Door Insights, a B2B software and analytics company. He is the chair of the Michigan History Foundation, past board treasurer of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, and sits on the board of several early-stage IT companies. Brown, who grew up in a small town in northern Michigan, now lives with his wife and two children in Ann Arbor.
Platform statement: I am running for Regent because I believe the university must be the leader and best, but since my Republican opponent has been on the board for the last 24 years, tuition has increased more than 600 percent and the percentage of African Americans has decreased by more than 50 percent. U-M must lead in educating exceptional students from every background, lead in doing world-changing research and publishing, and lead in providing life-saving healthcare.
Kevin A. Graves
Political affiliation: Green Party
Background: Graves is a University of Michigan graduate in biochemistry and psychology. He worked at U-M in several research laboratories and earned five biochemical research publications. During this time, Graves said he “changed policy” at the university. Currently, he teaches in the Detroit Public Schools Community District.
Platform statement: I’m running for Board of Regents-University of Michigan to expedite change. Long before (Michigan State University)-Nassar, we have had “Institutional Racism” as a well-known phrase. So, why are any of us surprised at MSU, at institutional sexism. What is disturbing is how long institutionalized bigotry (sexism, homophobia, racism) has continued even after incumbents get repeated terms. Obviously, incumbents have failed. As a new member of the Board of Regents-University of Michigan, as a minority, I will continue my stance against discrimination. I will rock the boat and whistle blow as needed to expedite change towards equal rights and in general towards justice. For example, I will “push” and “shove” for all University of Michigan employees to have a minimum wage of $15 per hour, now!
Political affiliation: Libertarian
Background: A native Michigander, Jascob works as a securities law editor at a leading legal publisher. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree with highest distinction from the University of Michigan in 1987. He subsequently earned a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (1990), a J.D. from Concord Law School (2002), and an LL.M. from the University of Alabama School of Law (2015). Deeply committed to the value of a liberal arts education, Jascob previously taught Latin at both the university and secondary school levels. He is a member of the State Bar of California, Phi Beta Kappa and American Mensa.
Platform statement: The University of Michigan is one of our state’s great institutions. We must affirm its commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression, while increasing transparency and student and faculty participation in university governance. I strongly oppose speech codes or other attempts at prohibiting expression protected by the First Amendment. I will oppose further tuition increases, while advocating privatization, decentralization, and the development of student cooperatives to reduce costs.
Andrea Fischer Newman
Political affiliation: Republican
Background: Newman served as senior vice president — government affairs for Delta Air Lines from 2008-17. From 2001-08, she was senior vice president — government affairs for Northwest Airlines. She joined Northwest in 1995 and was a senior partner and senior counsel at Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone from 1988-94. Newman serves as a U-M regent. She is a board member of three private equity-backed companies, and has been an appointee to the Department of Education’s National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, and the National Board for the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education. She also was a 10-year member of the Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. Newman received her J.D. from George Washington University in 1983 and is a 1979 honors graduate of U-M.
Platform statement: As a regent, I will work to ensure that U-M remains the best public university in the country. I believe education must be affordable and accessible to all admitted Michigan students. I fully support U-M’s commitment to academic excellence. We must retain the best faculty and support their research and teaching. We need to prepare students to lead successful and productive lives after graduation. The economy is changing rapidly, and Michigan needs to make sure our graduates are ready to succeed in it. We are coming to the end of a $5 billion fundraising campaign. I am excited to raise more funds and to watch our faculty, staff and students develop new technologies, solve existing and future problems and develop medical cures. I want us to continue to support the entrepreneurship and startups across campus at Mcity, LSA, and the medical and engineering schools, among others. I am proud of the University of Michigan and hope to be a part of making it even better in the next eight years.
Political affiliation: Republican
Background: Richner is chairman of the Board of Regents. He served in the State House of Representatives representing Detroit and the east side, and as member of the Wayne County Board of Commissioners and the Grosse Pointe Park City Council. He was an intern in the Office of Counsel to the President in the White House. Richner is a partner in the law firm Clark Hill PLC. He is named in the peer review guide, The Best Lawyers in America, and was just honored as one of the 500 most powerful business leaders in Metro Detroit by DBusiness magazine. Richner is an honors graduate of the University of Michigan business school and law school and was contributing editor of the Michigan Law Review. He and his wife of 30 years, Susan, are blessed with a wonderful son and daughter who are both recent graduates of U-M.
Platform statement: My focus as a Regent is on academic quality and affordability. Since I was first elected, the university’s standing has progressed as one of the best run and respected academic institutions in the world, with applications at an all-time high. We initiated the Go Blue Guarantee to expand financial aid dramatically. We launched and completed a record-breaking fundraising campaign. We have a Top 5 hospital system delivering high quality healthcare to the people of Michigan. As a parent, I understand we need to assure that all families have the means to afford the highest quality education the university can provide.
Political affiliation: U.S. Taxpayers
Background: Sanger received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan in 1958 and his MBA degree with high distinction from the University of Michigan Graduate School of Business Administration in 1966. Sanger was a licensed certified public accountant in Michigan from 1970 through 2017. He operated his own certified public accounting firm from 1970 through 2009. Sanger served for several years as a volunteer treasurer for many organizations, including the Tisch Independent Citizens Party State Central Committee and the U.S. Taxpayers Party National Committee.
Platform statement: Since the autumn of 1955 (when I was a freshman), full-time in-state student tuition at U-M has increased from $90 to $7,631 per semester, an increase of 8,379 percent. At the same time, the consumer price index, as reported by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, has increased 835 percent. Over the past 63 years, the price of a U-M education has increased by 10 times the rate of inflation — an outrageous and totally unconscionable price increase! Today’s technology permits students to learn on a computer located in the safety of each student’s home! Universities can provide lecture tapes licensed from America’s best instructors. Students can report to testing centers for mid-term and final examinations. Students who meet the course requirements and pass their examinations should receive their degrees — all without ever needing to set foot on a university campus. Anyone who pays the $1,054 annual tuition fee (inflation adjusted 1955-56 tuition) should be admitted. Each student may personally determine if he or she qualifies for admission and prove it by passing the required course examinations. Students should not be saddled with a lifetime of unnecessary debt!