Mary Treder Lang: Improve service, voter rolls of Michigan secretary of state

Mary Treder Lang, a Republican, said she would push for efficiencies to reduce wait times at the Michigan secretary of state branch offices.

Update: Republicans outraise Democrats in bids for Michigan statewide offices

Mary Treder Lang says she’ll deliver better service to secretary of state customers, making most trips unnecessary.

Treder Lang, 58, a certified public accountant who has worked for large accounting firm KPMG, said her computer and customer service expertise would allow her to push for expanded online services and safe, secure elections.

She later worked for Ameritech and did work in computer security before joining other firms, including multinational conglomerate Siemens. She has worked for the Vista Maria non-profit, which assists vulnerable youth in metro Detroit, since 2013.

Treder Lang ran for office in 2008, seeking to become a state representative and won a six-person Republican primary. She lost in the general to Democrat Timothy Bledsoe.

Treder Lang earned an accounting and marketing degree from the University of Dayton. She and her husband Paul Lang live in Grosse Pointe Farms. They have three children.

Both Treder Lang and opponent Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, want to shorten the wait times at the state’s 132 secretary of state branch offices.

Related: Benson, Treder Lang outline visions for Michigan secretary of state

Related: Jocelyn Benson: Fix waits, transparency of Michigan secretary of state

Bridge Magazine recently interviewed both candidates in the Nov. 6 election. The conversation has been edited.

Bridge Magazine: How do you shorten wait times? Add personnel? Locations? What's the solution?

Treder Lang: My plan really says that we’ll limit the trips to the secretary of state to only once every eight years; I really shouldn't have to see you in the secretary of state's office once every eight years. And that is a big different than from my opponent who guarantees of 30 minute wait, which is pretty much an empty promise.

(Treder Lang, like Benson, said she’d push to move more services, like renewing license plate tags, online. And she emphasized a need to design and offer a smart-phone application that would allow residents to avoid branch visits. Treder Lang also suggested partnering with Michigan businesses to expand kiosk opportunities so residents don’t have to rely solely on the 132 branch offices.)

Bridge: What are the impediments to shorter visits and what makes you think that you can overcome those?

Treder Lang: If there's money associated with this, as a CPA, I will be driving efficiencies within the operation and looking for ways in which I can save money to roll out these initiatives in a quick and fast pace. Because we need to embrace modern technology. And that's really what differentiates me …my real world experience across the board of what I've done and where I've been successful throughout my career in business, cyber security… customer service and system integration.”

Bridge: Regarding elections, what reforms would you push for?

Treder Lang: The No. 1 item on my ‘one citizen, one vote (plan)’ is to increase the election training of our clerks and our poll workers requiring a certification process 30 days prior to the election so that they have that training (and) they're able to show up on the day of the election and show that they have the adequate training. But also recruiting poll workers.

(Treder Lang said some of the past problems in Detroit are rooted in understaffed polls and inadequate training. She said she would try to find business partners in the communities who would let their workers become poll workers. She touted her security background and said it would help her “ensure that we have fair elections, that we protect the integrity of the voting process and it’s critical under that whole security portion of my platform.”)

Bridge: You have said the removal of over 500,000 deceased voters from Michigan’s voter rolls helped President Trump win Michigan. Were you implying there was fraud before?

Treder Lang: My point behind that is that maintaining and managing the voter rolls is a continuous process and … now (under Secretary of State Ruth Johnson) it's done a once a month in which (the) Social Security roll is matched up with our voter roll all to make sure that those individuals that have passed are removed from the voter role.

Bridge: One area where the two candidates disagree most clearly is on the two election-related ballot issues. Proposal 2 calls for the creation of an independent commission to redraw legislative boundaries after the 2020 Census, a roll currently administered by the legislature. Proposal 3 would make voting registration and voting easier by allowing Election Day registration, no reason absentee voting and allow voters to resume voting straight ticket. How will you vote?

Treder Lang: As a CPA I’m not really comfortable writing a blank check for basically political neophytes to be overseeing the redistricting process. Right now, we have elected officials that are held accountable because we don't have to reelect them if they're not doing their job.”

(She said she opposes both, though there are parts of Proposal 3, like no-reason absentee, that she supports.)

Bridge: The secretary of state also compiles and maintains campaign finance records. Does transparency have to improve?

Treder Lang: My opponent will talk about transparency amongst dark money and that's really undocumented money. And there (are) no laws in place today (for) the next secretary of state to be transparent.”

(Current laws allow non-disclosure of donors to so-called dark money groups. Treder Lang went on to say she wants tougher laws to make sure candidates who don’t pay their filing fees actually do – or they cannot be on the ballot.)

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Janet wagner
Tue, 10/23/2018 - 9:07am

I am deeply concerned about Treder Lang's roll as Secretary of State, if she wins the election. Unlike Benson, she is skeptical of Prop 2 and definitely not a supporter of this nonpartisan proposal. Yet she will essentially manage the Citizens Commission in so many aspects. Will she work to undermine it? If she becomes antagonistic towards managing the Commission's efforts, are there ways in place to control her?

Tue, 10/23/2018 - 9:34am

'Right now, we have elected officials that are held accountable because we don't have to reelect them if they're not doing their job.”
One has to laugh at this statement. Seriously? Hard to not reelect candidates who have a gerrymandered advantage in the first place. Apparently CPAs don't have a lot of common sense.

Tue, 10/23/2018 - 3:19pm

voter "rolls"? type-o?