DEARBORN — Wayne County Commission Chairman Gary Woronchak announced he will not seek re-election to the commission next year, as he filed documents today to become a candidate for the state Senate in 2018.
Woronchak (D-Dearborn) will run in the 3rd Senate District, which includes a portion of Detroit and all of Dearborn and Melvindale. The seat is currently held by Sen. Morris Hood (D-Detroit) who cannot seek re-election next year because of term limits. The primary election is Aug. 7.
Woronchak was a state representative for six years before being elected to the Wayne County Commission in 2004. His commission district consists of Dearborn and Allen Park, and also included Melvindale for his first four terms.
He was elected by his fellow commissioners in 2011 to be chairman of the commission, and continues in that position with his colleagues having re-elected him in each of the three terms since.
Woronchak said he is declining to seek another term on the commission – after being unopposed for re-election in 2014 and 2016 – because he believes he can have an impact in the Senate by adding needed experience to the Legislature’s upper chamber.
“My experience from different levels of government has prepared me to be an effective legislator for the 3rd District,” Woronchak said. “That experience uniquely positions me, compared to other candidates, to deliver results as a senator for residents of Detroit, Dearborn and Melvindale.
“I’ve demonstrated my ability to work across partisan divisions in a time when polarization is hurting the Legislature’s ability to find common ground solutions to pressing issues.”
As chairman of the Wayne County Commission, Woronchak has provided leadership through challenging times for the county, and has worked with Wayne County Executive Warren Evans to help restore fiscal stability to the county after its finances were rocked by the housing market collapse and recession of 2007-09.
Under his leadership, the commission adopted the county’s first-ever ethics ordinance, which established standards of conduct for county employees and created a system to hold them accountable through an ethics board, which reviews complaints of ethical violations.
Woronchak has brought more than $1 million to his district in grants from the county’s parks millage for a variety of projects at city parks and playgrounds. He championed a parks millage ordinance that guarantees significantly increased funding for improvements to Detroit parks.
Drawing on his experience as a local newspaper editor before holding public office, Woronchak developed a Citizen’s Guide to Wayne County Government to explain to residents the structure of county government, the services it provides and contact information for all county officials. The Citizen’s Guide booklet is distributed by all commissioners to residents throughout the county.
As a state representative, Woronchak secured an amendment to the state School Aid Act to bring $2.5 million more annually to Dearborn Public Schools for at-risk programs, an action that brought $20 million to the school district before the funding was ended in 2011.
He also secured a $5 million appropriation for the addition of an IMAX theater at Henry Ford Museum, and a $1 million grant to ACCESS toward construction of the Arab-American service agency’s health center.
During his time in the state House, Woronchak introduced 22 bills that became Public Acts, including helping in the creation of the Michigan Education Savings Program, which has been used by thousands of families to save for college; giving cities tools to fight blight in neighborhoods; consumer protection related to halal food; and campaign finance reform that resulted in the electronic filing system that voters use today for transparency in campaign donations to elected officials.
Also, Woronchak is known for his annual Senior Citizen Conference, attended by hundreds of district residents age 60 and over. His 19th annual conference was held in May. The event features health screenings, vendor tables, an array of speakers on topics of interest to seniors, and a featured speaker who is usually a local media personality. Among the previous featured speakers were Karen Drew, Chuck Gaidica, Bill Bonds and then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
Digital campaign outreach will be in place early in 2018, Woronchak said. In the meantime, residents can learn more about him through his website.