MPPS Policy Brief: Statewide survey finds a majority of Michigan local governments experiencing harassment or other abuse

September 2022

This policy brief presents Michigan local government leaders’ experiences with public harassment, threats, or even violence as part of their role in local government. These findings are based on statewide surveys of local government leaders in the spring 2022 wave of the Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS)— conducted between April 4 and June 6, 2022.

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Key findings

  • Statewide, 47% of Michigan’s top elected and appointed local government leaders report personally experiencing online or in-person harassment over the last few years as part of their role in local government, including around two-thirds of leaders from jurisdictions with more than 5,000 residents.
  • A majority (53%) report harassment, threats, or even violence against at least one member of the local government, including themselves. These include reports of abuse against the County, City or Township Clerk, their election staff, or other election workers (29%), other members of their Board or Council (28%), and other jurisdiction employees or volunteers (26%).
  • Overall, 53% of local leaders report that the general climate of abuse toward local government personnel has had at least some negative impact on their government functions, such as on the willingness of people to work or serve in the jurisdiction, on the ability of jurisdiction personnel to get work done, or on their Board’s or Council’s decision-making process regarding potentially contentious issues. This includes 70% of jurisdictions where some abuse has occurred in the last few years, but also in 33% of jurisdictions where none is reported.