Dear Voter,

The County Clerk/Register of Deeds gets little notice, but performs many services for the public and local government. The Clerk-Register is the chief local election official, is custodian of a vast array of public records from birth certificates to mortgages, and provides administrative support to the local court system.

I was elected in 2004, and was unopposed for re-election in 2008.  I think I have accomplished a lot in the last seven-plus years, and I’d like to continue.  I ask your support in the 2012 election.

Here are a few examples of things we have done on my watch:

Vital Records:

– Washtenaw was the first county in Michigan to register deaths electronically.  The new electronic death registration system, now being rolled out statewide, saves time and money for doctors, hospitals, funeral directors, medical examiners, and my office.

– Our office has become more welcoming to genealogists.  It is no longer necessary to buy a certified copy in order to see a death certificate. We are training representatives from the local genealogy society to assist other genealogists.


– I intervened to better target the mailings of questionnaires for prospective jurors, which reduced those mailings by tens of thousands.  We also stopped mailing questionnaires to hundreds of deceased individuals who had been kept on the state’s driver list for years, and I successfully advocated at the state level to remove deceased drivers from the jury list.  Before I came into office, court staff would spend many hundreds of hours every year hand-deleting duplicates from the jury pool; by changing the process, I made that huge task unnecessary.

– I negotiated a partnership agreement with the Circuit Court to consolidate administration of courthouse staff.  Previously, employees working side by side on similar court-related tasks would have different supervisors and different work rules.  Now, the Court Administrator is in charge of all the employees, and reports jointly to the chief judge and myself.

Public issues and transparency:

– As County Clerk, I am one of the officials on the 3-member county Election Commission, which reviews recall proposals for clarity.  Under the Michigan Constitution, it is up to the voters to decide (as signers or voters) whether there is enough reason to oust an elected official.  I would rather err on the side of accepting the proposed text, even if imperfect, and allow the process to go forward, than to find reasons to block and delay.

– As County Clerk, I am one of the officials on the 5-member bipartisan Apportionment Commission, which redraws the boundaries of county commission districts every ten years.  In many counties, this process is marked by tremendous partisan strife and expensive litigation.  However, in Washtenaw County in 2011, we worked together in relative harmony, and came to unanimous support for the approved districting plan.

– I have been co-chair of the Legislative Committee for the county clerks’ association, and have frequently testified before House and Senate committees on election law issues.- I strongly supported Jerry Clayton’s challenge to then-incumbent sheriff Dan Minzey in the August 2008 Democratic primary.  Jerry won that primary, and has gone on to be an outstanding sheriff.

– I have always been available to candidly help citizens and reporters with questions about county government and politics. I have written and responded to comments in local news sites, and I have been active in social media.

I came to this position with a lot of relevant background.  I have been elected county commissioner in two different counties. In Ingham County, I was chair of the Personnel Committee, which directed labor negotiations and arbitrated grievances for the county’s 800-plus employees, and of the Administrative Services Committee, which handled budget and policy issues for the County Clerk and Register of Deeds.

As an election inspector at the city, township, and county level, poll challenger, candidate, elected official, director of voter registration drives, and attorney in recounts, I have participated in nearly every aspect of the election process, and I have written articles and given speeches about problems in election administration, voter authentication, tabulation, and voting systems.

I have worked with deeds and other land records literally since boyhood. And my background in computer databases, networks, and security is very relevant in this era of Internet-accessible public records.

I hope to meet and talk with you during the campaign. If you want to get in touch, please write to me at or the campaign committee postal address, or call me at 734-769-7388.

Larry Kestenbaum

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