Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Knake Jefferson, Denno win Board of Trustees race

November 9, 2022
Trustee Renee Knake Jefferson, right, and Dennis Denno. Photos by Sheldon Krause and Chloe Trofatter.
Trustee Renee Knake Jefferson, right, and Dennis Denno. Photos by Sheldon Krause and Chloe Trofatter. —

Renee Knake Jefferson and Dennis Denno have won the two open seats on the MSU Board of Trustees with 24.94% and 24.35% of the votes, respectively, according to the Michigan Secretary of State's unofficial results. Their terms will start in January 2023.

Knake Jefferson received the highest amount of votes and was the only incumbent on the ballot. She was initially appointed to the board in 2019 by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Outside of her role as trustee, Knake Jefferson works as a law professor at the University of Houston and as an attorney. 

She centered much of her campaign around the importance of accountability and transparency on campus. She has noted the need for increasing campus safety and supportive resources for survivors.

After the polls closed, heading into election night, Knake Jefferson said she was feeling optimistic “because that’s the only way one can feel.” She said she was impressed by the number of MSU students that turned out to vote in person.

“I have been very impressed by all of the photos I have been seeing of the numbers of MSU students who were waiting in line patiently to cast their vote today,” Knake Jefferson said. “I think that is awesome for our school and awesome for our students.”

Michigan Democrats nominated Denno to run for the board in 2010. Denno said he was inspired to run again this year.

He works as a researcher, founded Denno Research and spent 17 years working in the Michigan legislature, experiences he said will help in his role as trustee.

Denno’s campaign issues focused on increasing accountability, transparency and budget priorities. In regards to increasing transparency, Denno stated he supports the release of thousands of documents relating to the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case. He also said he would work to raise the MSU employee minimum wage to $15. 

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