Incumbent Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum, a Democrat, is seeking a third four-year term, running against Democratic challenger Dekeea Quinney-Davis, a political newcomer and daughter of Ingham County Register of Deeds Derrick Quinney.
The winner of August’s Primary Election is expected to prevail against East Lansing Republican candidate Joseph W. Warner.
DeKeea Quinney-Davis, 48, grew up in south Lansing, attended Lansing Community College and works as an administrative assistant for the Building and Planning Department at Meridian Township. She’s the daughter of Ingham County Register of Deeds Derrick Quinney, previously staffed the Ingham County Clerk’s Office in Lansing and also did outreach work for St. Casimir Catholic Church.
Quinney-Davis, with endorsements from Lansing City Council members Adam Hussain and Patricia Spitzley, cited a passion for community outreach as a reason for her jump into the race.
“With having worked there before, I really know everything there is to know,” she told CIty Pulse. “And this office is so important. It helps residents from the cradle to the grave and everywhere in between. The office really needs more community exposure as to the value it can really hold.”
Quinney-Davis said Byrum is a good friend, and she’s certainly no enemy of the “Barb Byrum machine.” But a little friendly competition never hurts, she explained. And she also believes she has the experience necessary to make some positive changes as Ingham County’s new clerk.
“I’d say nine of 10 people can’t tell you what this office does, and that’s a problem,” she explained. “I can also tell you right now that the Black and brown community doesn’t know the services available through this office and how we can be valuable and find a way to help them.”
Quinney-Davis’ top priorities if elected: community outreach, increased efforts to ensure younger residents are registered to vote and more affordable rates for essential services.
“There are a lot of hardships going on right now, and residents need some type of reassurance that if they don’t have the money for things like birth certificates and marriage licenses that go through this office, that we have and get the resources available to help them,” she added. “The other thing is accessibility: Everyone in this office really needs to be courteous, compassionate.”
Byrum, 42, of Onondaga, is wrapping up her eighth year as Ingham County clerk. She carries endorsements from the UAW, the Lansing Area Human Rights Campaign and various local labor unions that represent carpenters, plumbers and pipefitters and other local trade workers.
She previously served as a state representative (succeeding her mother, Dianne Byrum) and owns Byrum Hardware in Charlotte with her husband, Brad Delaney, a county sheriff’s detective.
“There’s still more work to be done,” Byrum said. “I’ve been able to elevate this office to become more accessible to the public and updated election system technology, but we also need to be paying attention to cybersecurity risks and electronic records management.”
Byrum said she added another staffer to the Lansing office branch since she took office, therefore enhancing accessibility. She also helped to perform the first same-sex marriage ceremonies in the county, and cited a few key priorities if reelected to another term.
Among them: enhanced election security and a system that allows for easier access to both printed and digital county records like birth and death certificates and other vital records. Byrum also cited transparency and more local service efficiencies as other top priorities in Year Nine.
“Election security must remain the top focus of any election administrator. We’re also always striving to serve the public better,” Byrum said. “I usually make decisions by bringing others to the table and talking it out, and that’s how things will continue during another term as clerk.”
Byrum also strongly supports absentee ballots and no-reason absentee voting and opposed the law passed by the Republican Legislature that requires voters have a picture ID to cast a vote. She remains committed to overseeing a redesign of the clerk’s website, fighting to ensure that every county resident is able to access his or her right to vote and bolstering customer service.
“There’s no reason that someone in Lansing should need to drive down to Mason to handle business when they should be able to do it in downtown Lansing,” Byrum said in a statement.