Action in low-turnout primary
By Phreddy Wischusen
The Michigan Citizen
Amid otherwise predictable state-wide primary voting Aug. 5, two results standout. Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence won a tight three-way race to gain the Democratic nomination in the 14th U.S. Congressional District, narrowly defeating Rudy Hobbs and distancing former Congressman Hansen Clarke. Secondly, a Wayne County school millage proposal was not approved, despite “yes” votes by 61.28 percent of Detroit voters.
Detroit has the county’s largest population and has traditionally supported measures for education, however Detroit’s 14 percent turnout was considerably less than other Wayne County communities. Livonia, a Republican stronghold and the county’s second largest city, had a 24 percent turnout. Livonia voters opposed the measure by more than 60 percent. The millage would have captured revenue from property owners countywide and distributed it to children in public school districts on a per pupil basis.
Because the Educational Achievement Authority and charter schools are not public school districts, over 10,000 Detroit children would not have benefitted from those funds.
Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Jack Martin had already accounted for the failed millage in next year’s DPS budget. In counting on the countywide millage funds, DPS had already raised maximum classroom size to 43 pupils per room for students in grades 4-12.
Elected DPS Board Member LaMar Lemmons is glad the measure failed. “We worked against it,” he said. “It would be an imposition on our taxpayers. The money would be administered by Gov. Snyder’s EM and there is no accountability or transparency — no real transparency — from the EM.”
The EM has asked the school board to grant him authority to borrow necessary funds to operate the district until summer taxes have been collected. They will vote on the matter at an Aug. 6 meeting. A provision of PA 436, the Emergency Manager Law, requires expenditure of $50,000 or more be approved by the elected body.
Lemmons says he will vote no on the loan, and recommends other members do so as well.
“The EM should have been gone. His 18 months are up,” Lemmons says. PA 436 requires the board to offer an alternative to plans they reject. According to Lemmons, the board says, “Let the state borrow the money; they created the debt.”
Other primary results as follow:
Former Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans separated himself from the other Democratic candidates in the Wayne County executive race by a large margin.
The millage to support Detroit’s public libraries passed, as did funds for SMART, the regional bus system
Congressman John Conyers handily defeated Horace Sheffield in the 13th U.S. Congressional district with 74 percent of the vote. Conyers is poised to be the most-tenured member of the House.
Michigan legislative incumbents Sen. Bert Johnson, 2nd Dist.; Sen. Virgil Smith, 4th Dist.; Fred Durhal, III, 5th Dist., son of incumbent Fred Durhal, Jr.; Rep. Harvey Santana, 9th Dist.; Rep. Rose Mary Robinson, 4th Dist.; and Rep. Brian Banks, 1st Dist. won their races.
A new crop of freshman state representative, all women, will likely represent Detroit in Lansing this fall. They include: Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, 8th Dist.; LaTanya Garrett, 7th Dist.; Leslie Love, 10th Dist.; and Stephanie Chang, 6th Dist.
Wendell Byrd prevailed in a tight contest in the Michigan House 3rd District race. He won by 241 votes.
The winning Detroit Democratic candidates for Wayne County commissioners are Martha Scott, Alisha Bell, Burton Leland, Irma Clark-Coleman, Ilona Varga, Tim Killeen and Jewel Ware.