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Washtenaw County Administrator Gregory Dill shared the following tribute with county staff, wherein he honors three elected leaders who will be retiring at the end of this year.
December 8, 2020
To: All County Staff
From: Gregory Dill, Washtenaw County Administrator
Re: Honoring our Outgoing Elected Leaders
I’ve often said there is a difference between a politician and a statesman (or woman). A statesperson exudes public service and works to improve the quality of life for all. They put the needs of others before their own, work collaboratively to achieve positive outcomes, and they invest countless hours in their quest for results. Whether elected, appointed or hired, these people come into our lives and make an impact on us all. They make us want to be better people by the examples they set, and they help us to be more effective in our own careers in public service. Most importantly, they deliver results and improve the quality of life for our residents.
Washtenaw County is fortunate to have a collection of people like this – there are leaders in all areas of our organization. Some of them are here for just a short while, others stay longer. Many have become legends. This year, we are losing four of our greatest leaders, all lifelong public servants. Commissioner Ruth Ann Jamnick, a representative of Ypsilanti Township will soon be enjoying life as a private citizen; Commissioner Felicia Brabec of Pittsfield Township is our newest State Representative for District 55; Brian Mackie, our Prosecuting Attorney, and Circuit Court Judge David Swartz have both chosen to retire and enjoy more time with their families and friends.
Together, these 4 elected officials possess over 100 years of organizational knowledge and experience. They have led us through good times and bad, and they have learned lessons that have translated to improved service delivery for our residents. I’m proud to have known and worked with them. Their contributions to this organization are immeasurable and they each will be missed.
I wish David, Brian, Ruth Ann, and Felicia much happiness and success as they enter a new chapter in their lives. Please read on to learn more about them.
Prosecuting Attorney Brian Mackie
Brian Mackie began his career as the elected Prosecuting Attorney for Washtenaw County in 1993. Brian had previously served as an assistant prosecutor under William F. Delhey for 13 years. Now, after 28 years of distinguished elected service, effective January 1, 2021, he will retire and enter private life.
Many of us in the downtown campus know ‘Mackie’ as an avid walker, always at the ready with a smile and conversation about current events. He possesses a kind, quick wit and never misses an opportunity to offer encouragement. He is also a lawyer who is highly respected in his field and has been recognized for his contributions on issues related to child support enforcement and identifying ways to help steer children away from crime. He has served in a leadership capacity on numerous state and local boards, including a national effort to reduce drug trafficking in southeast Michigan, and as president of the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan. On many occasions, he has been invited to testify before the Michigan House of Representatives and the State Senate to share his expertise on law enforcement and public safety. Undoubtedly, Mackie’s contributions have helped to improve our legal system.
While his service to the legal profession has spanned nearly a half century and his accolades are numerous, Mackie is the first to acknowledge his career would not be as rich if he did not have the support of his staff. He has assembled a team of attorneys and support personnel who are bright, well respected and exemplify professionalism; he works to impress upon each the importance of public service and reminds them to never forget they are tasked to protect the victims of crime. He hires only the best and demands integrity. The results speak for themselves, many of his staff have gone on to serve with the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, the United States Department of Justice or as judges. Interns have become attorneys and emulated the lessons learned from his office, leading to success in their own careers.
Brian Mackie’s legacy will be one of leading by example. He has faced challenges with valor and confidence. Vindicating the victims of crime and preventing recidivism in order to protect our residents has always been his highest priority. As such, he has worked tirelessly and collaboratively with our community partners, our law enforcement and court system in order to effect justice that provides opportunities for rehabilitation. Throughout his career, he has maintained a contagious, can-do attitude, always working toward those fair and just solutions. Thank you, Brian Mackie, for your leadership and your courage. Your work here is done, but the impact of your efforts has become part of the foundation of this organization. I wish you health and happiness in your retirement, you’ve earned it.
District 5 Commissioner Ruth Ann Jamnick
District 5 Commissioner Ruth Ann Jamnick has spent a lifetime working to make her community better. Her contributions to Ypsilanti Township and Washtenaw County are immeasurable and her distinguished career is teeming with recognition and accolades.
Ruth Ann has never forgotten her time as a young single mother raising three small children and the challenges she faced, especially the financial hardships. She is grateful for the support of family, friends, and the good will of the community in helping her face those challenges. This experience has always shaped the way she works as a governmental leader.
Serving the community where she was born and raised and has lived her whole life has been an honor and she continually speaks of it as the opportunity of a lifetime. She has a deep understanding and knowledge of the events, people, and changes that have shaped our community.
Commissioner Jamnick has served with empathy, fiscal responsibility, and problem solving. She believes that people are the greatest asset in a community and the purpose of government is to serve the people. She's very aware of the importance of the people who work in government and that it's more than the elected officials. The staff that work in government are critical to the services that are provided. She has a great deal of respect for the people who get the work done on a daily basis to make sure government serves the people.
Ruth Ann’s public service roles have included 3 terms as a County Commissioner, Receptionist at the Washtenaw County Road Commission, Clerk at Ypsilanti Township, Treasurer of Ypsilanti Township, Supervisor of Ypsilanti Township, and District 54 State Representative. She speaks fondly of each of these roles and the valuable lessons she learned from each, as they all helped her to become a better leader.
Over the years, Commissioner Jamnick has served on dozens of community boards and commissions. Her work with other local Ypsilanti area Community activists in creating the Ypsilanti Area Foundation is something she is very proud of and it continues to serve our community well.
Ruth Ann was a trailblazer for women in government in our local community. There are a lot of women involved in government today, but this was not the case when she started out in elected government. One of her first newspaper campaign ads was "The best man for the job is this WOMAN". This idea may seem outdated today, but it was a huge statement when she first ran for office in the 1970s. She is a living example of the idea that women can do anything they set their minds to do. The path may be bumpy and often hard, but your gender should never be a reason to not pursue your interests or dreams.
She's a strong quiet leader and listens a lot more than she speaks. She never asks for attention or accolades. Her purpose and greatest joy have been in helping people and serving the community she loves. She has been a gentle, gracious, and kind ambassador for Ypsilanti for her whole adult life. She is a beloved and respected leader for many of the constituents she has served throughout her lifetime.
Thank you, Ruth Ann, for your service. While your presence at the board table will be missed, you have left a legacy of immeasurable value – and your contributions will continue to positively impact public service forever.
District 4 Commissioner Felicia Brabec
With a tenure of 4 terms, Pittsfield Township/District 4 Commissioner Felicia Brabec is our longest serving commissioner. Felicia’s vision and leadership have shaped our budget decisions and policies so we can better serve all residents of this county. Felicia works with an intensity and enthusiasm that is contagious and she confronts challenges head-on, always willing to work collaboratively to improve the lives of those in our community.
When Felicia began her term as a County Commissioner, her children were very young. Instead of leaving them in the care of others, she chose to begin teaching Alex and Viviann the importance of public service, oftentimes they accompanied her to meetings. I have fond memories of them joining us as we worked to develop policy, and I remain in awe of how at such a young age they were so quiet and respectful and allowed Felicia to focus on county government.
From the beginning of her tenure on our board, Felicia demonstrated her ability to balance all aspects of her life and excel at each. As a clinical psychologist, she has maintained a thriving practice; as a wife and mother, she is a role model who prioritizes family time; and as an elected official, Felicia has worked tirelessly to improve the disparities that exist in our communities. Her work is unending, yet she gives each person and each situation the time and attention necessary to achieve success.
During her time on the Board of Commissioners, Felicia has been pivotal in some significant culture changes. She helped us move from a cumbersome biennial budgeting process to a more strategic and planful quadrennial event – a process that yielded the County it’s first ever AAA bond rating. As a mental health professional, she has worked closely with our Community Mental Health department and board and helped them to balance the service challenges that accompany unpredictable state and federal funding. I would argue though, that her greatest accomplishment is to move this organization and the entire Washtenaw County community toward achieving racial equity by developing a policy that serves to outline our goals in this endeavor. Felicia was pivotal in helping the County to create a Racial Equity office and the subsequent hiring of our first ever Racial Equity Officer. It is only through Felicia’s commitment to this initiative that we will begin to move beyond our race determining our outcome in life.
While we will certainly miss Felicia’s guidance on our Board of Commissioners, we can’t help but be incredibly proud of her decision to expand her role and represent her constituents as a State Representative for District 55. Her priorities are issues that any of us could be affected by, and her persuasive nature will most certainly influence policy decisions that will resonate throughout the entire state. Felicia understands the importance of listening to the public and working collaboratively to identify practical solutions, and she’s not afraid to do the work required to achieve success.
Felicia, thank you for your service. You have been a steadfast leader in this organization, you are both purposeful and kind, and you’ve made Washtenaw County a better place to live and work. While we will miss your presence, we’re so proud of you. You’re going to do some great things in Lansing!
The Honorable David S. Swartz
Judge David S. Swartz a native of Ann Arbor, received his law degree in 1972, and began his Washtenaw County employment as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney under William Delhey shortly thereafter. In 1982, the allure of private practice called, specifically, civil litigation, but the public service bug stayed with him. In 1995 he was appointed by Gov. Engler to the 14A District Court, and in 1997 he was appointed to the Circuit Bench. Judge Swartz has been an incredible jurist for the citizens of Washtenaw County, he is highly respected by litigants, staff and the bar. He is thoughtful and fair, always striving to identify solutions that will serve in the best interest of all who come before him. Always dedicated to his calling, and always working to set a positive example, Judge Swartz has served on various committees and commissions, he is a past president of the Washtenaw County Bar Association and is a Life Fellow of the State Bar Foundation. His smiling face will be noticeably absent in the halls of our circuit court building, but we know Judge Swartz will be enjoying his newfound spare time doing things like playing golf and spending time with his wife, Debbie and daughter Lauren. In October, Judge Swartz was delighted to welcome his first grandchild, Phoenix, and if I had to guess, his #1 priority will be to spend time with the next generation of his family. Enjoy your retirement, Judge, you’ve certainly earned it! Tracy Vandenberg will fill this vacant position beginning 1/1/21 due to winning the election in November 2020.
It’s been a privilege to work with each of you – thank you for your dedication to this organization and the residents of Washtenaw County
Gregory Dill Washtenaw County Administrator [email protected]