Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Rep. Scott's official website

The vote was close, but it was not close enough to rescue Representative Paul Scott (R-Grand Blanc) from losing his job. Scott is 29 years old and once was pegged as a rising Republican star. He told a group of supporters that he and Republican reformers in Lansing are the targets of special interests.

“We took the state by storm and we made fundamental changes and we had the establishment government unions living in our community, trying to overturn the will of the voters and we just came up a little bit short in that fight,” said Scott.

All told, $225,000 or more was spent by both sides in the campaign, making this a very expensive legislative race. South Genesee County residents were bombarded since August with TV and radio ads, brochures stuffed in doors, and mailings.

People are willing to pay more taxes, if they understand what the taxes are for and want the services they will provide.

That, more than anything else, seems to be the message Michigan voters sent in yesterday’s off-off year election.

Turnout wasn’t great, but the preliminary numbers I’ve seen hint it may have been slightly higher than expected. And those voters who showed up mostly seemed to be civic-minded.

Google Maps

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.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Super close mayoral race

City Commissioner James Hightower narrowly beat the incumbent Mayor Wilce Cooke. Cooke is likely to challenge the results, which came in 681 to 673, a difference of 8 votes. There were two write-in candidates who got a combined 8 votes. The state appointed an emergency manger to take over the city’s finances during Cooke’s second term as mayor.

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.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint mayor Dayne Walling won re-election last night. But it may end up being a temporary victory.

"Tonight…you can see…that the people of the city of Flint…are behind me and my administration," Walling told a cheering crowd at his victory party last night.   

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.   

“I’ll do whatever I can to move our city forward," says Walling, "The people have clearly spoken tonight. It’s been two very difficult years.  But now I have a full four year term. I’m proud of what we’ve done over the last two years.”

Walling singled out four city unions that have resisted contract concessions, as part of the reason why Flint is mired in debt.

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.

Google Maps

West Michigan reporter Lindsey Smith called in with these unofficial election results from the city of Benton Harbor.

In the race for Benton Harbor mayor, the city is reporting this result:

  • James Hightower has 681 votes
  • Wilce Cooke has 673 votes

It's a close race, so we'll have to watch how this one is "officially" called.

And whether the winner ends up being Hightower or Cooke, neither will have any official power.

The city is still under the power of state-appointed emergency manager Joe Harris.

Smith reports that all seven of Harris' proposed charter amendments in the city were voted down.

Governor Rick Snyder says a financial emergency exists in Flint.

That determination could lead to the appointment of an emergency manager for the city.

"The State's decision shows how serious our financial challenges are in the City of Flint," Mayor Dayne Walling said in a statement. "Significant progress has been made to stabilize the City's finances during a very difficult economy, but without shared sacrifice across the board the City has not been able to implement all of the necessary cost-savings. When some don't share in the sacrifice, we are all forced to bear the burden. With the support of the people, I will continue serve the City of Flint."

The news comes just a few hours before the polls close in Flint.

Challenger Darryl Buchanan issued an appeal to his supporters to continue voting despite the decision.

A spokeswoman for Governor Snyder says the timing of the announcement had nothing to do with the election. Sara Wurfel says Snyder got the report this morning and reviewed it with the state treasurer before making the decision that an emergency exists.

The city has seven days to request a hearing to challenge the declaration, and if it does, that hearing would take place Nov. 18.

* An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that there are seven candidates in the mayor's race. There are only two - Walling and Buchanan.

levin.house.gov

The Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits programs are set to expire at the end of the year. The programs provide up to 73 weeks of additional unemployment benefits. If the programs are not extended more than 2 million Americans will be cut off from benefits by February with another 6 million losing benefits by the end of 2012.

Democratic Congressman, Sander Levin, is a ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee. He’s calling for a swift extension of the programs.

Cle0patra / Flickr

Local elections are underway across the state today. Among other votes in Michigan, two mayors of large cities will be elected, Detroiters will vote on changes to their city charter, and a state representative is up for recall. But, despite the fact that there are important issues on today's ballots, very few voters will actually make it to the polls.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White spoke with Jack Lessenberry, Michigan Radio's Political Analyst, about why voter turnout is historically low in local elections that are held in so-called "off-years."

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.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Last month Reverend Bill Freeman was arrested for refusing to leave city hall. He was protesting Holland City Council’s decision in June 2011 against adding sexual orientation and gender identity to its anti-discrimination laws. The proposed changes would have given homosexual and transgender persons protection from discrimination by employers and landlords.

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