GVSU alumna running for state representative
A recent Grand Valley State University graduate is hoping to effect change in the state of Michigan by running for public office. Melina Brann, who holds a master’s of social work (MSW) from the College of Community and Public Service, is currently campaigning to be a part of the Michigan House of Representatives for District 68, which encompasses much of the Lansing area.
Brann graduated from GVSU with an undergraduate degree in psychology in 2015, and completed her MSW just last year.
“I think we need more young people in our government representing the people we serve,” Brann said. “That’s why I felt compelled to run as a person of color, a young person. We need more people like that.”
Brann is running as a progressive Democrat on a platform strongly focused on social issues, as well as Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure and troubled economy.
One issue she’s heavily focused on is criminal justice reform. She is a big proponent of ending prison privatization, saying that “it makes more sense to invest in jobs and mental health services than incarceration.”
Brann also discussed the importance of implementing serious change in the Michigan educational environment—both in public schools and in college.
“I want to work to lessen the student debt load,” she said. “We need more support for our public schools and help for our college graduates.”
Perhaps the issue closest to Brann’s heart is that of health-care reform. She said her own family’s experience with the health-care system frustrated her and prompted her to take action.
“I got into social work because when my sister was 17, she needed emergency brain surgery,” she said. “My family had to navigate health services with little help, so I got into social work and saw firsthand how the system wasn’t working for those people. I decided to make a change, and the biggest change I could see was becoming a representative.
"Someone needed to be a voice for those people, and I decided that person needed to be me.”
According to Brann, many of her opponents are career politicians. At a time when much of the U.S. population has a growing dissatisfaction with the government and the way it’s run, Brann hopes to break away from the mold and be a different kind of politician, eliciting a strong sense of trust from the people she serves.
“I was not groomed for this position,” Brann said of her campaign. “This is powered by grassroots donations. I see myself as a vessel for this movement of change. People need someone who will really represent them in a holistic way. This is not about me; this is all for the people.”
A master list of all the candidates is not currently available, but will be soon as the election draws nearer. The Democratic primary will take place Aug. 7, and the general election will be held Nov. 16.