Who is Garlin Gilchrist II?

Someone Detroiters can trust to stand tall and make it easy for their voices to be heard and votes to count.


Meet Garlin Gilchrist II

I’m a son of Detroit. I live near Michigan Avenue and the Lodge with my beautiful wife Ellen and our three-year-old twins Garlin III and Emily Grace.

My mother, Yvonne, showed me what community service looked like when she represented our neighborhood as part of the Citizens District Council. My father, Garlin, Sr., taught me history—and how to subtract big numbers—by riding bikes with me near Elmwood Cemetery and telling me about the many great people laid to rest therein. My first PAL team was North End, and the practices at Considine Recreation Center taught me the value of hard work. Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program classes at the University of Detroit, and Wayne State, and the Science Center helped me excel academically in middle and high school. This foundation could only come from a great city.

The importance of personal service was instilled in me by my mother and father, who both grew up on the west side of the city. They made sure I interacted with community leaders and heroes like Rev. Dr. Frederick G. Sampson and Rosa Parks and Grace Lee Boggs, who gave of themselves at every opportunity in the hopes of making someone else’s life better. My Grandma Doris took pride in having her young grandson attend her eighth grade social studies classes at Munger Middle School to learn about historic events like the Detroit Walk to Freedom and Civil Rights leaders like Rev. C. L. Franklin.

I went on to graduate from the University of Michigan with two degrees from the College of Engineering: one in Computer Engineering, and another in Computer Science. After college, I worked as a Software Engineer at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, WA, where I helped build the fastest growing business in the company’s history, SharePoint, from zero to one billion dollars in revenue in nine months.

While in Washington, I worked on the Obama campaign as a social media manager, organizing and mobilizing more supporters via SMS during the last month of the election than in any other state.

This work inspired me to pursue political organizing full time. I moved to Washington, D.C. with my wife Ellen—a Southfield native—to work as a community organizer who knew how to use technology to make sure everyday people had a way to make their voices heard by people with political power. I spent two years at the Center for Community Change as the Director of New Media, and three as the National Campaign Director of In 2012, I ran the program that mobilized more than 34,000 volunteers to re-elect President Obama, more than any other organization that wasn’t a labor union. That was thrilling, but it wasn’t enough. I could have gone anywhere in the country, but I wanted to go home.

I got the chance came back home to Detroit in July of 2014 with my wife and then-ten-month-old twins because I felt like everything I’d learned and experienced living on the West and East coasts would be best used to serve Detroiters. I served the City of Detroit as the first-ever Director of Innovation & Emerging Technology.

The first thing I did was make public information and records easy to access without petitioning city government. But my role grew as the relationships I built across departments and with City Council grew. In addition to writing the city’s transparency policy and designing and implementing the city’s first open data portal, I also meaningfully contributed to projects that improved public safety and operational efficiency in Detroit. This included implementing a technology solution to make sure city fire hydrants are regularly inspected and repaired, enabling anonymous police tips via cell phones, and championing the Improve Detroit app.

I’ve been preparing to be Detroit City Clerk for my entire life and career, and I’m ready to serve. Join me—let’s #StandTALLforDetroit together.

Garlin Gilchrist II

Fire and Water

Made it easier for the Fire and Water Departments to fix fire hydrants—now people aren’t hurt & homes aren’t destroyed because firefighters don’t hook up to broken ones


Made it easy to report problems—broken traffic lights, illegally dumped trash, fallen trees, etc.—to the City to get fixed by phone call, cell phone, or website


Made it easier to get information on City services like property information and building permits and bus schedules

What the Detroit City Clerk does

And why Garlin Gilchrist II should be the next Detroit City Clerk


Voting and elections

The City Clerk manages all of the systems and processes related to elections, voting, and voter registration.

Garlin is a proven problem solver who knows how to use new tools and methods to turn broken systems into great experiences.

Public records

The City Clerk is responsible for making information City government readily available to Detroiters.

Garlin wrote the policy and created the technology systems that has made it easier for Detroiters to get government information than ever before.

City Council & other meetings

The City Clerk helps people interact with City Council by managing the agenda, minutes, and official records for Council and other official City meetings.

Garlin knows how to design and facilitate real, effective public involvement processes that lead to everyone being heard, respected, and responded to.

Bottom Line: Chief Participation Officer

The City Clerk should be Detroit’s Chief Participation Officer, completely focused on getting as many Detroiters as possible involved in the decision-making processes they care about.

Garlin has experience mobilizing and inspiring people to vote and play a part in how decisions get made. He’ll aggressively use smart new tools to make it easy to vote and put more information in more Detroiters’ hands and give them more ways to share their ideas with their government.