Jeff with his wife Kathryn and their daughter Sylvia.
I love political activism because I’ve seen firsthand how government can help people find success and how government holds people back. I’ve seen families struggling with a developmentally disabled child, needing a hand. I’ve seen failing school districts where kids come to school hungry, illiterate and where 1/3rd suffer from asthma - exacerbated by pollution and poor housing; and, I’ve seen vibrant communities that work, where leaders have had the courage to embrace diversity and bring citizens together. I want government to work for people; engaging productively when necessary and standing aside when appropriate.
I was born in 1977 to Cynthia Williams and Mitch Irwin at the General Hospital in Petoskey; a long drive from our home in Sault Ste. Marie, MI. One year later, my father Mitch Irwin was elected to the State Senate; necessitating frequent traveling across the Mackinaw Bridge, towards Lansing.
Jeff on the steps of Angell Hall before his first election.
I came to Ann Arbor in 1995 to study Political Science at the University of Michigan. To support myself, I worked a multitude of jobs including as a construction laborer, a dishwasher, a waiter, a gas station attendant, a freelance writer and as office help for a law firm. As a student, I got involved in local and campus government by serving as Treasurer of LSA Student Government and on the Board of the Ann Arbor Tenants’ Union. Also as a student, I volunteered for numerous political candidates including Alma Wheeler Smith, Chris Kolb, Rebekah Warren and Liz Brater, while staying intimately involved in campus issues such as off-campus housing and sustainability. In addition, I worked as a Legislative Aide to Senator Alma Wheeler Smith in 1998 and eventually took a job with the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, assisting environmental organizations throughout the Great Lakes region by connecting their members to opportunities for advocacy. Through these experiences, I learned that local activism is the lynchpin of successful communities and genuine political progress.
In 1999, my County Commissioner, Dave Monforton, resigned to take a job out of town. With the urging of other community members, I decided to campaign for County Commissioner. Since my first election in August of 1999, I served the people of Ann Arbor on the County Board of Commissioners for 11 years, focusing on housing the disadvantaged and on amending the county policy on payment for police patrols. I was honored to serve as the Chair of the Board for two years, participating in and leading a number of substantial successes in Washtenaw County government.
Jeff and Kathryn at Dawn Mist Falls in Glacier National Park, Montana.
I am married to the beautiful Kathryn Loomis, my high school sweetheart. Kathryn and I have a three-year-old daughter, Sylvia and a one-year old son, Mackinac. I am so privileged to have these three wonderful people in my life and to spend time fathering little Sylvia and Mackinac. I was excited to become a dad, but being a father is even more awesome than I imagined.
My wife, Kathryn, is an attorney. Kathryn currently performs legal editing, research and writing for the Michigan Supreme Court. Kathryn is also active in the community. She recently served as vice-chair of the Ann Arbor Zoning Board of Appeals and previously served as a member of the Ann Arbor Cool Cities Task Force. Before attending law school, Kathryn worked as the Bicycle Program Coordinator for the City of Ann Arbor. Kathryn and I love canoeing, backpacking and other wilderness trekking in addition to sharing a common love for hockey, cooking and, of course, politics.