election 2011

The results of the November eighth election in Benton Harbor stand.

Incumbent Mayor Wilce Cooke lost the election by eight votes. That’s less than one percentage point.

During a recount this week, both Cooke and Mayor elect James Hightower picked up two votes. So the end result remains the same even though the vote count changed slightly.

“We’re not trying to say there’s any hanky-panky going on – although it could be,” Cooke said.

He’s concerned about the absentee voting process; mainly who processed the votes and who may have had access. “There’s some issues we’re pursuing that I’m not able to divulge to you; but that’ll come out eventually,” Cooke said.

The state appointed an emergency manger to take over Benton Harbor’s finances during Cooke’s second term as mayor. The emergency manager expects to have the city’s finances back on track soon. He expects to turn power back over to the new mayor and city commission within the next eight months.

There’s an old saying I’m sure we’ve all heard: Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it.  I think that’s where we are now, two days after State Representative Paul Scott was recalled.

Well, his opponents did get him out of office, assuming the narrow margin stands up when they officially certify the vote. So, what does that mean, and what did his enemies really accomplish?

The answer seems to be, not much. In fact, by spending heavily in their efforts to get Scott recalled, the Michigan Education Association may have made things worse for themselves.

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In the  small West Michigan city of Montague, a new mayor was elected even though he had fewer votes than his challenger.

That's because his challenger had died a week before the election.

From the Muskegon Chronicle:

Montague has a new mayor for the first time in 20 years despite more votes being cast for the longtime incumbent who died a week before the election.

Henry Roesler Jr., who was seeking his 11th consecutive term as mayor, received the most votes cast in the city's mayoral election, but his votes don't officially count based on state law. Therefore, Kevin Erb, the challenger, won the two-year term.

State law says votes for a deceased candidate are void.

Michiganders went to the polls yesterday and elected mayors in three large cities, recalled a Republican state lawmaker and voted for a new city charter for Detroit. We spoke this morning with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry about what the election results mean for the state.

Lower Community College / Flickr

Legislative Recall

State Representative Paul Scott is the first Michigan lawmaker since 1983 to be recalled. Scott was targeted by the Michigan Education Association for his support of changes to the state's teacher tenure law and budget cuts to education funding. “The recall election is widely seen as an early measure of voters’ discontent with what Scott, Governor Rick Snyder, and Republicans in Lansing have been up to,” Rick Pluta explains.

Detroit City Charter

Detroit voters overwhelmingly approved a new city charter. The charter changes the structure of the Detroit City Council by creating a new system where the majority of Council members are elected by district. The charter also creates a new Office of the Inspector General to investigate corruption, fraud, and waste. An elected charter commission had spent the past two years putting together the proposal.

Flint Mayoral Race

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling won re-election last night. But it may end up being a temporary victory, Steve Carmody reports:

Dayne Walling celebrated his win last night with jubilant supporters. But they all knew that earlier in the day, Governor Snyder accepted a report that said the city of Flint is in a financial emergency.   The governor is expected to appoint an emergency manager to run the city. Flint officials could appeal the decision. But Walling says he’s prepared to work with a manager appointed by the governor. 

Benton Harbor Mayoral Race

In Benton Harbor, City Commissioner James Hightower narrowly beat incumbent Mayor Wilce Cooke. “Cooke is likely to challenge the results, which came in 681 to 673, a difference of 8 votes. The state appointed an emergency manger to take over the city’s finances during Cooke’s second term as mayor,” Lindsey Smith reports.

Jackson Mayoral Race

In Jackson, Democrat Martin Griffin will become the city’s next mayor after defeating incumbent Mayor Karen Dunigan. Griffin has had the job before, he was Jackson's mayor from 1995-2006.

Lansing Millage

Lansing residents have voted to increase their taxes to pay for public safety. The Lansing State Journal reports that the millage would generate more than $7 million in the first year for police, fire services, and road maintenance.

Ann Arbor Millage and City Council

In Ann Arbor, voters approved a tax increase to pay for future sidewalk repairs and  renewed the city’s street millage for another five years. The new sidewalk millage will cost the average homeowner in Ann Arbor about $13 a year. Voters also returned four incumbents to City Council. However, in Ward 2, Independent Jane Lumm beat incumbent Stephen Rapundalo.

Michigan Municipal League

A former mayor in Jackson, Michigan will become mayor once again.

Martin Griffin defeated incumbent Mayor Karen Dunigan.

The Jackson Citizen Patriot reports that Griffin won the seat again after a five-year absence:

Griffin, who was mayor from 1995 to 2006, had 2,199 votes or 62 percent to Dunigan's 1,340 or 38 percent, according to unofficial results from the Jackson County Clerk's office.

"I just feel great," said Griffin, who was celebrating his victory at the Night Light. "I think the people want city government to move forward. I think they're tired of the bickering"...

Dunigan said it was an honor to be mayor and she was proud of what she did even though she was not re-elected.

"I know if nothing else, I elevated the position of the mayor in the city and I did bring back the respect that position holds," Dunigan said.

Dunigan said she's not sure whether she'll run for the seat again, but she plans to stay involved in the community.

user ellenm1 / Flickr

Residents in the city of Ann Arbor voted in favor of two millages.

One increases their taxes to pay for sidewalk repairs. The other is a renewal for street maintenance.

More from AnnArbor.com's Ryan Stanton:

City officials were confident heading into the election the street millage — which brings in about $9.1 million a year and is essential to paying for streets and bridges in Ann Arbor — would be renewed. But they were less certain about the sidewalk millage.

Ann Arbor's city code currently requires property owners to maintain the sidewalks adjacent to their properties...

City officials say passage of the millage marks a shift away from an admittedly unpopular program that's placed a heavy burden on individuals.

And the Ann Arbor City Council will get a fresh face.

Jane Lumm, an independent, defeated incumbent Stephen Rapundalo in the city's 2nd Ward race.

Again, more from AnnArbor.com:

Cheers erupted shortly before 8:30 p.m. at her election night party at Paesano on Washtenaw Avenue where Lumm later gave a victory speech to a crowd of several dozen supporters.

Percentage-wise, Lumm picked up 60 percent of the vote. Rapundalo is said to be with supporters at his private residence and is not welcoming the media.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Update 11:54 p.m.

Flint mayor Dayne Walling claims victory.

Walling easily won re-election over challenger Darryl Buchanan.

But Walling's victory is tempered by the Governor deciding that the city of Flint is facing a financial emergency.

Governor Snyder will likely name an emergency manager to run the city.   Mayor Walling says he looks forward to working with whoever is appointed.

Update 11:35 p.m.

Rick Pluta just called in to say that Michigan State Representative Paul Scott (R-Grand Blanc) has been recalled. Scott conceded defeat saying his campaign did their best, they came up short, and that he will not rule out running again in the future.

Scott is the first sitting state lawmaker to be recalled since 1983.

USFWS

Voters in Kalamazoo voted to make possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a "low" local police priority.

Supporters of the effort said police in the city should instead focus on violent crime.

More from the Kalamazoo Gazette:

All votes are in and Kalamazoo citizens voted to make a small amount of marijuana use a low priority for Kalamazoo’s law enforcers on Tuesday night.

The ballot initiative passed with 4,649 "yes" votes to 2,416 that voted it down.

The proposal read: “Shall the Kalamazoo City Charter be amended such that the use and/or consumption of one ounce or less of usable marijuana by adults 21 years or older is the lowest priority of law enforcement personnel?”

Kalamazoo is the first city in the state to have such charter language.

The city's Public Safety director has said that the result of the vote will most likely not effect how police in the city do their job.

Joel Dinda / Flickr

Update 11:09 p.m.

Voters rejected it in May, but supported it in November.

Lansing residents have voted to increase their taxes to pay for public safety.

From the Lansing State Journal:

The city of Lansing’s millage proposal passed with all precincts reporting, according to unofficial results.

Nearly 52 percent of voters cast ballots in favor of the millage.

The five-year, 4-mill proposal will generate $7.6 million in the first year for police and fire services and local road maintenance.

user ccpablocosta / Flickr

Voters in Detroit have capped a two-year process by approving a new city charter.

Detroiters voted to open the charter up for an overhaul in 2009, amidst questions about whether the current city charter enabled corruption.

An elected charter commission spent two years putting together the proposal. It faced stiff resistance from some prominent Detroit figures, including several Detroit City Council members.

But in the end, the new charter passed overwhelmingly, with about 58% of the vote.

Rep. Paul Scott's official website

Republicans and Democrats in Lansing are closely following a recall election in Genesee County. The target of the recall is the Republican chairman of the state House Education Committee, Representative Paul Scott.

The Michigan Education Association made Representative Scott the target of the recall effort. The union partially blames him for budget cuts to K-12 schools and tenure law revisions that make it easier to fire teachers. The recall petition also cites Scott’s vote in favor of the state tax overhaul that includes extending the Michigan income tax to seniors’ pensions.

At least $225,000 has been spent on both sides of the recall campaign. The effort has also sparked retaliation by the Michigan Republican Party against Democratic lawmakers across the state.

There are currently 32 more recall petitions circulating that target both Republican and Democratic lawmakers. If they’re successful, those recall questions would appear on the February 2012 ballot.

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) - Some Pontiac elections workers didn't show up to the polls following the recent firing of the city's clerk by a state-appointed emergency financial manager.

The Oakland Press, the Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News and WWJ-AM report voting took place as scheduled Tuesday. Oakland County Clerk Bill Bullard says other workers have been brought in and precincts consolidated after some workers didn't show up as expected.

Oakland County's elections director and a representative from the secretary of state were on hand to assist. Voters in Pontiac were choosing Democratic and Republican nominees for the state House's 29th District and making school board picks.

Lou Schimmel last month fired Yvette Talley as well as the city's attorney and director of public works in what he called a realignment of City Hall.

Update 9:16 a.m.

Our Facebook users are not having much luck with this resource. Some are seeing their ballot, while others are not. This message appears when searching on Publius:

Due to limited resources in 2011, only some jurisdictions have interactive sample ballot information. All polling locations are current. We hope to have everything back where it should be in 2012.

Monday, November 7, 5:14 p.m.

Election Day is tomorrow.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m in Michigan.

It's an easy-to-miss election because there are not a lot of high profile campaigns going on, but there are likely some important local issues in your area.

Here's a resource that might help with your election research:

Publius - find out what's on your ballot

Publius is a great resource.

Enter your name and city and up pops your polling location and it shows you what exactly will be on your ballot.

A good place to start. If the issues don't look familiar, more research is warranted.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint voters will elect a mayor November 8th. In a city beset by high unemployment and questions about how city hall’s being run, crime is a central issue.   

At a recent meeting at the Flint YWCA, about two dozen people met to discuss crime prevention. Dave Beardslee was one of the people at the meeting. He said, right now, leadership is Flint’s main problem.   

“I think they could do something…they could pull the jacket off…roll up their sleeves and get out there with the rest of us. Be a leader. That’s what we need is true leadership," Beardslee said.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says July 5 is the deadline to register to vote in Michigan primary elections Aug. 2.

Cities, townships and school districts are holding votes in August.

Voter registration can be done by mail, at county, city or township clerk's offices or by visiting any secretary of state branch office. The mail-in form is available on the Department of State's website at www.Michigan.gov/sos.

Residents can check their registration status on the Michigan Voter Information Center website at www.Michigan.gov/vote. That site also has information on voting by absentee ballot and the state's voter identification requirement, along with maps to polling place and sample ballots.

Those who wish to receive their absentee ballot by mail must submit their application by 2 p.m. July 30.