Saline Leaders Engage Community in Informative Coffee Hour


Mayor Brian Marl, Rep. Felicia Brabec, Commissioner Shannon Beeman, and others gather for an informal conversation. Photo by Traci Husse.

On Saturday, November 18th, Saline Mayor Brian Marl hosted a coffee hour at Carrigan’s Cafe and invited other local and regional elected officials to participate, including State Rep Felicia Brabec, who represents the 33rd State House District, and County Commissioner Shannon Beeman, who represents Washtenaw County’s 3rd District. The event was billed as open to all residents, property owners, and business operators and offered ample time for unstructured Q&A with the elected officials.

Each representative provided an overview of their efforts for their constituents this year and a brief look ahead. Rep Brabec stated that it was an especially busy year in the State House, where she sponsored 32 bills and co-sponsored 146 bills, four of which were signed into law by Governor Whitmer. Brabec discussed two of the bills that were particularly meaningful to her.

As a trained psychologist and social worker, she was most proud to have been a part of legislation banning “conversion therapy” in Michigan. “Conversion therapy is a disproven set of “interventions purported to alter same-sex attractions or an individual’s gender expression with the specific aim to promote heterosexuality as a preferable outcome,” according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP).

Worse, according to AACAP, evidence shows that conversion therapy increases the risk of causing or worsening mental health conditions in youth. “So [banning conversion therapy] was a huge win,” said Brabec.

The second bill that passed this year, which was especially meaningful for Rep Brabec, was related to organ donation. There are 2600 people in Michigan already waiting for an organ donation and more than 16,000 people on dialysis. When the new bill takes effect, Michigan taxpayers will be able to sign up as organ donors through their Michigan tax forms. Said Brabec, “We are very excited about this. We’re the first state in the nation. And, since we’ve done that, other states have been reaching out to ask us how we did it. They want to replicate it.”

Next up was Washtenaw County Commissioner for District 3, Shannon Beeman. Right now, she said, the Board of Commissioners’ attention is directed to developing their next four-year budget, which amounts to about $125,000,000 annually. One major priority for the county commissioners this past year was determining the final allocation of ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds. One project that benefited from these funds was a rec center in the eastern portion of District 3. While the county had already contributed $7,000,000, it was awarded an additional $18,000,000 in ARPA funds.

Beeman also touched on the progress being made to extend access to broadband internet connectivity throughout Washtenaw County, which is another ARPA-funded project that affects many residents living in the surrounding areas outside of the City of Saline. Said Beeman, “There are dollars that the county invested, but we also had our task force that received both state and federal funds for other areas.” She continued, “So, we’re very, very excited about that.”

Finally, Saline Mayor Brian Marl provided municipal updates for Saline residents. He gave an in-depth update on Saline’s water quality project with a timeline and shared a link to the recording of a recent town hall meeting on the matter. Marl then commented on the Maple Road construction project, which was very near completion. After acknowledging the widespread and long-term frustrations caused by the project, he reminded residents that the work included more than street resurfacing and instead was an infrastructure upgrade to the east side of the city’s sewer. “I like to tell people as much as an inconvenience as this was during the construction season of 2023, it would have been far worse had that problem been allowed to exacerbate,” said Marl.

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