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Our endorsements for November election

Birmingham, Bloomfield Township and Bloomfield Hills voters will be deciding among candidates in the November 6 general election for a variety of congressional, state and county political offices, as well as local school boards, along with determining the fate of several state ballot issues, either at the polls or with absentee ballots.

Downtown newsmagazine, through questionnaires, queried candidates on a variety of issues, the answers to which can be found in the special Voter Guide online at We also met one-on-one over the course of the summer with most candidates seeking state or congressional offices to gain added insight into office seekers.

The results of our efforts, along with our institutional knowledge of people and issues, provided the basis for the following endorsements, which we first published in our October issue for the benefit of absentee ballot voters.

9th Congressional District – Two-year term

(Bloomfield Township)

When we were endorsing for the August primary, we had three strong Democratic candidates, so we opted to go with someone other than ANDY LEVIN in the contest to replace his retiring father, Congressman Sander Levin. But each election contest presents a new set of alternatives, and we feel Andy Levin is voters’ best bet in the race for this district which meanders through south Oakland and Macomb counties. Levin brings years of experience from both outside and in the heart of government at the state level, business knowledge from his work in the energy conservation field with his own commercial venture, and appears most qualified when discussing both the issues and the current day concerns that should be the priorities of any member of Congress.

11th Congressional District – Two-year term

(Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills)

Democrat HALEY STEVENS impressed us greatly when she first announced in 2017 for this congressional seat. A Millennial who has brought her government and private enterprise experience home, Stevens grew up in Birmingham, picked up undergraduate/graduate degrees, went to work as chief of staff of President Obama’s Auto Rescue Task Force effort and worked for the White House Office for Manufacturing and Office of Recovery for Automotive Communities and Workers. She cut her teeth, so to speak, helping to shepherd though the necessary components of the auto bailout through members of both parties in Congress and members of the business community. She has also spent time working in the private sector tied to job training and digital manufacturing. Bright, energetic, focused, with a good command of the issues. Her opponent in this race – a Trump acolyte whose blind allegiance doesn’t show through her deceptively shallow and evasive answers in our Voter Guide, no doubt on advice of her handlers who can read Trump’s disapproval polls. Congress is supposed to be part of the checks and balance system in government and we already have enough Trump handmaidens in DC who don’t understand their proper role.

12th State Senate District – Four-year term

(Bloomfield Township)

When he first ran for the state House we did not support Michael McCready, although in two elections since, we have backed him as a more moderate Republican who kept in touch with officials in the district and was not afraid to buck the party on some issues. Unfortunately, we wish he would have broken more often from the party line, especially on key issues, like the environment and civil rights, to name just two. We understand the legislative game as well as anyone – in the caucus setting the best of intentions can get dealt away. But then again, perhaps McCready is just following his own personal beliefs which then raises the issue of whether he is in sync with district residents. Either way, a change is necessary. With both legislative chambers and the administration under Republican control, there has been a lack of progress in some areas and outright decline on issues of importance for the future of the state. His opponent in this race, Democrat ROSEMARY BAYER, is keenly focused on public policy in the state that needs a new direction and will not hesitate to push for that. Bayer has the necessary skills, honed through her experience in the high tech industry and business, to work with others to bring about change and is well grounded on the issues. We were impressed and voters will be too.

13th State Senate District – Four-year term

(Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills)

Incumbent Republican MARTY KNOLLENBERG is seeking his second Senate term after having served in the past as a Representative in the state House. This district also includes Troy, Rochester and Rochester Hills. Knollenberg has been a focused policy maker in the area of education and has worked equally hard in other legislative areas. Knollenberg has kept in touch with officials and residents of the district.

40th State House – Two-year term

(Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township)

It has been everyone’s dream that the “brain drain” from Michigan would reverse itself and the younger generation, post-college and having gained experience elsewhere, would return to help guide and shape the future of Michigan. That is the story of Democrat MARI MANOOGIAN. Raised in Birmingham, received undergraduate/graduate degrees from George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs, served time in the office of Congressman John Dingell and with Ambassador Samantha Power at the United Nations, then was a program officer at the U.S. State Department. Manoogian has a strong grasp of Michigan issues. She has the drive, attention to detail and understands the course corrections that need to be made for the state’s future.

As an added closing argument for Manoogian, her desperate opponent in the closing weeks of the campaign has accelerated his hard edge (dirty tricks) approach to seeking this office – this time a calculated smear campaign – something that reasonable voters must reject this election year. Further, word is that his campaign has, or is in line to get, funding from a DeVos-backed lobbying group that threatens funding for public education. More reasons to send Manoogian to Lansing as the new state rep for this district.

12th District County Commission – Two-year term

(Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township)

Republican incumbent Oakland County Commissioner SHELLEY GOODMAN TAUB has paid her dues. From 1993-2002, she served as a county commissioner, then as state representative from 2002-2006, then in 2009 came back to the county board and has assumed a top position with the board of a national organization for counties. We are backing her once again because of her impressive track record as a leader, her ability to reach across the aisle to get things done and her unwavering attention to her constituents.

13th District County Commission – Two-year term

(Southwest Bloomfield Township)

Democrat MARCIA GERSHENSON has always impressed us since she started representing this district in 2004. She is dedicated to a number of critical issues and works hard on behalf of both her district and the county as a whole. Her passionate approach to board matters would be missed.

48th District Court – Six-year term

(Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township)

DIANE D’AGOSTINI was first elected to the bench in 2000 and has been twice re-elected since. Both her time on the bench and her previous stint as an assistant prosecutor have helped her develop into one of the better district court judges. Her outreach to area youth through programs she has developed hopefully will help minimize future interaction with the court system.

Birmingham School Board

Three six-year terms

Three long-term board members are stepping down from the Birmingham School Board, and of the seven candidates running to take their place, we were most impressed with LORY DOLAN, MIKE NUMMER and JENNIFER RASS. They are the best prepared to take on the tasks confronting the district as they choose a new superintendent and determine a new district strategic plan.

Bloomfield Hills School Board

Four four-year terms

Incumbents HOWARD BARON, PAUL KOLIN and JASON PAULATEER have been strong stewards for the Bloomfield Hills Schools Board, and are deserving of another term. We believe LISA EFROS has the understanding and experience to join them in continuing to lead this district forward.

State Ballot Issues

Proposal 1 – Marijuana Legalization

Michigan may well join a growing number of states allowing recreational use of marijuana if voters give their approval in this general election. No citizen-initiated ballot issue is perfect but drafters of this issue have done a reputable job of writing the rules and restrictions surrounding recreational pot use. Vote YES. Let’s hope officials in Lansing don’t take years to implement voter wishes, like they did with medical marijuana.

Proposal 2 – Redistricting amendment

This amendment to the Michigan Constitution would address the political gerrymandering that for decades has allowed whatever party is in power to redraw political districts to their advantage so they continue to remain in power. The proposal essentially creates a more independent commission that would redraw districts every 10 years following a federal census. Vote YES.

Proposal 3 – Voting Regulations

This proposal would amend the state Constitution to provide for, among other things, ‘no-reason’ absentee ballots, same day registration, restoring straight ticket voting and several other voting items, all designed to expand voting ability and enshrine these voting issues to protect against voter suppression efforts by lawmakers. Vote YES.

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