Republican Kathleen Ryan is a candidate for Probate Judge in Oakland County, Michigan. The seat she’s running for handles probate, guardianships, mental illness, and family law cases. This responsibility requries someone with experience and the highest moral and ethical standards.
At left is one of Ryan’s campaign signs alongside I-96 eastbound near mile 160. Since it’s in front of the Wixom city limit sign, Ryan’s campaign sign is clearly on public property and the highway’s right-of-way. Giving the candidate the benefit of the doubt, I emailed her campaign to advise them of my concern and request removal of the sign. I became real annoyed by political signs littering the sides of highways last gubernatorial campaign when Republican candidate Dick DeVos’s signs popped up all over state highways like an epidemic of weeds. Here’s the response judicial candidate Ryan sent me:
Thank you for your email voicing your concern. Please be advised that the sign that you refer to is on priovate property where my campaign received specific permission from the property owner.
Despite that reply, does anyone see any irony in the fact the sign disappeared not long after? In any case, Kathleen Ryan survived the primary election. She faces Dana Margaret Hathaway in the general election on 02 November.
Imagine my surprise earlier this week on my homeward commute. A few weeks before the general election, here’s one of Ryan’s campaign signs between the roadway and the fence separating public and private property along I-96. In fact, it’s got to be within about 100 feet of where the one before the primary was. You can clearly see the Detroit Public Television building in both pictures. Naturally, I emailed Ryan’s campaign. No response yet, but it’s only been a day.
Ryan attended Catholic elementary and high schools, obtained her bachelor’s at Notre Dame, and her Juris Doctorate from University of Detroit-Mercy. She lives in Bloomfield Township where the median family income was $144,043 in 2007. Compared to Oakland County’s 2009 median household income of $62,308, Ryan concerns me as being woefully out-of-touch with average citizens who will come before her bench.
While Ryan has more legal experience and has focused on probate and family law, she leaves a nagging doubt. Ryan claims Dana Margaret Hathaway is inexperienced, but Hathaway’s endorsed by four probate judges compared to Ryan’s two, one of whom is retired. To me, that’s telling and speaks volumes.
Hathaway lives in Birmingham, does pro bono work with indigent clients, worked at the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s office while in law school, and has cared for two grandfathers with Alzheimer’s. Hathaway’s campaign has is on Facebook and her web site is more personable than Ryan’s. Oh, and, I’ve not seen any Hathaway signs where they shouldn’t be.
17 Oct 2010
Interestingly, there are a few Kathleen Ryan signs on the westbound I-96 right-of-way between Wixom and Pleasant Valley Roads. I also saw a Thaddeus McCotter sign in this area. My whole pet peeve with this issue of campaign signs along public highway rights-of-way comes from the 2006 gubernatorial campaign when my commute to work was peppered with DeVos for Governor signs. The issue? Why should taxpayers underwrite the cost to remove these signs?
Here’s another interesting observation. Why are the illegal signs all for Republican candidates? I’ve not seen one sign for a Democratic candidate illegally posted along an Interstate highway in Michigan.
21 Oct 2010
Ryan’s campaign responded to my email and told me to feel free to contact the “property owner”, giving me a name, but no contact information. I replied asking for contact information. I haven’t received it yet, but it’s only been a couple days.
Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) press release provides guidelines on campaign (and other unofficial) sign placement along state highways and Interstates. The guidelines prohibit signs along limited access (Interstate) rights-of-way. Looks to me, from today’s picture at right, these signs are clearly in the I-96 right-of-way. Perhaps it’s unreasonable, but I’d expect a candidate for the judiciary to be concerned about following the law.
I’m not paranoid, but doesn’t it seem interesting there are now two signs here since I requested contact information?
22 Oct 2010
In an email response, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) agrees Ryan’s signs are, in fact, on public property:
If the signs are between the freeway and the fence, which they appear to be from the photographs, they are within MDOT right of way, and should be removed.
How can a candidate for the judiciary outright lie to a constituent? Does she think because I don’t have a doctorate or live in an affluent community that I’m stupid? Is she not aware of voter discontent with elected officials who don’t listen to their constituents? And who, in their right minds, wants to elect a judge without the backbone and moral fortitude to do what’s right? What kind of ethics you want exhibited by a probate judge who also hears family law cases.
Experienced she may be, but Kathleen Ryan does not have the strength of character to be responsible for determining outcomes in complex matters for people at their most vulnerable times.