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Voters Not Politicians

Katie Fahey (center) and Jamie Lyons Eddy co-founded Voters Not Politicians. They were honored at the Unrig Summit in 2019.

The Fahey Q&A with Jamie Lyons-Eddy, grassroots field marshal with lessons for organizing in a pandemic

After organizing the Voters Not Politicians 2018 ballot initiative that put citizens in charge of drawing Michigan's legislative maps, Fahey became founding executive director of The People, which is forming statewide networks to promote government accountability. She interviews a colleague in the world of democracy reform each month for our Opinion section.

This is the fourth in a series of opinion pieces we are publishing during Women's History Month to recognize the contributions of women to the democracy reform movement.

When I think of campaign powerhouses and those who can succeed against all odds, I immediately conjure up Jamie Lyons-Eddy. She was a co-founder of Voters Not Politicians and drove our signature-gathering and voter outreach operations as state field director. Jamie now helps lead the organization as director of campaigns and programs. We had an extremely timely conversation about strategies for advancing grassroots reform efforts during the coronavirus outbreak, the critical role women leadership plays, and Voters Not Politicians' continued work in Michigan.

Our recent conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Fahey: How did you initially get involved with Voters Not Politicians?

Lyons-Eddy: I answered a Facebook post. I had just retired from teaching math, and taking on partisan gerrymandering felt like a natural way to connect with politics using math. The Roeper School, where I taught, was founded by Holocaust survivors, so there was a culture of responsibility to use our skills and talents to do good in the world.

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Courtesy: Cathy Stewart

Katie Fahey and Steve Hough participating in a panel discussion at an Open Primaries/All Voters Vote gathering in Miami.

The Fahey Q&A with Steve Hough, who's working to open Florida primaries to all

Having organized the 2018 grassroots movement ending Michigan's politicized gerrymandering, Fahey is now executive director of The People, which is forming statewide networks to promote government accountability. She interviews a colleague in the world of democracy reform each month for our Opinion section.

Steve Hough is a retired accountant and an independent voter who had never been active in politics until eight years ago, when he became a volunteer with Independent Voting. In 2017, he became the director of Florida Fair and Open Primaries.

I recently participated on a panel with him at a national gathering sponsored by Open Primaries and All Voters Vote to understand what primary reform would mean for Floridians. Our recent conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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Courtesy: Katy Batdorff

Don Lee gathers signatures for the proposed local referendum and registers voters at the Apartment Lounge in Grand Rapids.

The Fahey Q&A with Don Lee, advocate of equal representation

Having organized last year's grassroots movement Voters Not Politicians ending Michigan's politicized gerrymandering, Fahey is now executive director of The People, which is forming statewide networks to promote government accountability. She interviews a colleague in the world of democracy reform each month for our Opinion section.

Don Lee leads the Grand Rapids Democracy Initiative, which is advocating to expand the size of the city council in Michigan's second largest city in order to give more neighborhoods and demographics a voice. He's the chair of the Eastown Community Association and has been an adjunct lecturer at Aquinas College, my alma mater. When he reached out to me this summer about his group, we were excited to help them work towards a more representative democracy in a place we both have called home.

Our recent conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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