Voters throughout Oakland County turned out in wide numbers to vote on Tuesday, November 6, reflecting the nationwide and statewide trend of the “Year of the Woman” and the surge by Democrats as they voted in Democrat Gretchen Whitmer to become the new governor of the state of Michigan over her opponent, Republican Bill Schuette, and returned Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow to Washington for her fourth term, after beating Republican John James.
In the geographical area served by Downtown newsmagazine, voters chose new representatives in three U.S. Congressional races, voting for Democrats Elissa Slotkin in the 8th district, Andy Levin in the 9th district and Haley Stevens in the 11th. In the state Senate, current Republican Sen. Marty Knollenberg was sent packing in favor of Democrat Mallory McMorrow. In the 12th District, results from the city of Pontiac were seriously delayed and it took until 6 a.m. for a winner to be announced - Democrat Rosemary Bayer, who beat Republican Mike McCready.
In the state House, voters chose Democrat Mari Manoogian to replace Rep. Mike McCready in the 40th District, and Republican Michael Webber was re-elected as state representative for the 45th district for his third and final term.
Voters also returned Oakland County Commissioners Shelley Goodman Taub, Adam Kochenderfer and Marcia Gershenson to represent them at the county level once again, with Republican Thomas Kuhn joining them as a commissioner for the 15th district. County-wide, however, there will be new faces and a switch in party control of the county board of commissioners, which had been dominated by the Republican party for decades. Four districts that had been held by the GOP went to Democrats in this election, flipping control of the 21-member board to an 11-member Democrat majority, mirroring a trend in recent years of inroads by Democrats in county elected offices.
All three statewide proposals, to approve the use of marijuana like alcohol, to end gerrymandering and to expand and protect voting rights, passed overwhelming by voters across the state, as did a Rochester charter amendment.
For school board representatives, Bloomfield Hills Schools re-elected Paul Kolin and Howard Baron and elected Lisa Efros and Jennifer Cook to the board. Birmingham Public Schools elected three new trustees, Nicole McKinney, Amy Hockhammer and Jennifer Rass. Rochester voters re-elected Barbara Anness, Michelle Bueltel and Andrea Walker-Leidy.
Many voters case absentee ballots, with absentee ballot requests in Michigan at 1,229,983, a 57 percent increase over the 2014 midterm election, a trend reflected in local Oakland communities.
Anticipation that the race for Michigan's sprawling 8th Congressional District that also includes Rochester and Rochester Hills would be one of the closest in the county and state was correct as late results on Tuesday night showed a close countdown throughout the district. However, voters in Oakland County showed strong support for homegrown Republican incumbent Mike Bishop, who took 54.2 percent (68,457) of the vote, over Democratic challenger Elissa Slotkin's 43 percent (54,326) of the votes.
By 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday, the lead in the race had gone back and forth by a difference of less than 2,000 votes. At about 1 a.m. the Michigan Information & Research Service (MIRS) called the race for Slotkin and Bishop reportedly called Slotkin to concede the election.
As election workers in Livingston and Ingham counties, also part of the district, worked past midnight, the race was separated only by about 2,000 votes by Wednesday morning, with about 15 percent of votes still being counted. Ultimately, Slotkin took 50.6 percent of the ballots, winning by about 13,000 votes, in a contentious contest that set a record in the state for the largest amount of political contributions in a House contest.
Slotin early Wednesday morning thanked her family for their support during the race, referring to campaigns as "hell on a family." The end of the race meant her father "no longer had to threaten to shoot the television" regarding attack ads, and credited her husband and staff for the win.
"My campaign team turned this from an un-winnable race into a victory," she said. “We believed in a mission...And it is a mission to restore integrity to our politics.
“I stand in front of you today as a proud Midwestern Democrat," Slotkin said. “We are practical, reasonable, independently minded – we are willing to work across the aisle to get something done. And we believe in our bones that all hardworking American families deserve a fair shake – no more and no less. As Midwesterners, we will not wait for someone to do the job for us. We are going to teach those in Washington how to act.”
Representing what can be described as a wonderment of gerrymandering, the 8th Congressional District is designed to favor the GOP, and Bishop had made his name in the state House from 1999 to 2002 and the state Senate, from 2002 to 2010, before heading to Congress. Slotkin's strong showing on Tuesday was evidence of a push by Democrats and women, factors that toppled other Republican strongholds in Oakland County. Slotkin, a third-generation Michigander, returned to her family's farm in Holly after spending five years, and three tours of duty, in Iraq as part of the CIA, and then worked under both Presidents Bush and Obama in the Department of Defense.
In the state's 11th Congressional District, Congresssman David Trott's (R-Birmingham) decision to step down from the seat led to a frenzy to see who would fill the seat. The August primary had six Republicans and six Democrats, leading to Democrat Haley Stevens facing off against Republican Lena Epstein. Stevens, of Rochester Hills, prevailed, winning 54 percent of the vote to Epstein's 43 percent and flipping the district which had been gerrymandered as a “safe” district for the Republicans. Stevens will be the first Democrat elected to a full two-year term in the 11th district since the 1960's, and she will be the first woman to ever represent the district. The district runs from Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Clawson, Troy, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, to Commerce Township and the lakes area of Oakland County through to western Wayne County.
As of 1 a.m. Wednesday, Stevens had 145,960 votes to Epstein's 125,819 votes.
"I am humbled and honored that the people of Michigan's 11th District have placed their trust in me to represent our district in Congress," Stevens said. "Ten years ago we stared down the greatest economic crisis of a generation and refused to back down. We saved General Motors, Chrysler, and 200,000 Michigan jobs. We stood up for everything we represent, and that's exactly what we're going to do in Congress. It's time to put politics aside to deliver for Michigan. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves on Day One to help lower healthcare costs, stand up for our public schools, and protect good-paying, Michigan jobs."
Democrat Andy Levin of Bloomfield Township will be filling big shoes as he becomes the congressman for the 9th district – his father, Sander Levin, who is retiring from the U.S. Congress after 38 years. Andy Levin won by a large margin over Republican Candius Stearns of Sterling Heights, in Oakland County with 64 percent of the vote (69,532 votes) to Stearns' 33 percent (36,233 votes). The district, which covers not only Bloomfield Township but Franklin, Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms, Royal Oak, Huntington Woods, and Berkley, runs through a large portion of Macomb County. Levin took 57 percent of the vote in Macomb County, or 111,110 votes, to Stearns' 39 percent, with 75,758 votes.
“I feel pretty good,” Levin said Tuesday night. “I was running on my own merits. It's certainly starting a new legacy. It's something to carry on my family's history of public service. I'm really humbled and excited that we're going to go forward and serve this district,” he said. “We're going to provide that check and balance on the President that is needed. We're going to put out a really positive agenda – a livable wage, health care, raising the living standards of ordinary citizens.”
Female momentum from the top of the ballot continued to the Michigan's 13th state Senate district, where incumbent Sen. Marty Knollenberg was expected to maintain GOP hold on the district, which includes Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Rochester, Rochester Hills, as well as Troy and Royal Oak – but didn't. Knollenberg, a conservative with deep roots in the county, saw strong support during his first term. However, disapproval on environmental issues and a Democratic push gave his opponent, Democrat Mallory McMorrow, a boost. A newcomer to Michigan, McMorrow's aggressive campaign and the general trends for women and Democrats in this election helped propel her to victory.
Election results at 12: 30 a.m. on Wednesday showed McMorrow with a lead of about five percentage points, with 65,401 votes (52.6 percent) to Knollenberg's 58,811 (47.3 percent), with 76 of 116 precincts reporting.
For the 12th state Senate, as of 2:30 a.m., results were too close to call, with absentee ballots still being counted in Pontiac for eight precincts. Hours later final numbers came in to give Democrat Rosemary Bayer, political newcomer, the win over Republican Mike McCready, 59,297 to 58,362. McCready had been hoping to move up from the state House to the Senate seat due to term limitations.
State House of Representatives
Continuing the Democratic wave, Mari Manoogian (D) flipped the 40th District, which had been held by term-limited Republican Rep. Mike McCready for the district that covers Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, Birmingham and the western portion of West Bloomfield. Manoogian beat Republican David Wolkinson, with districts still to report, 55 percent (24,049 votes) to 44.5 percent (19,368 votes).
Manoogian, who was running her first race for office, previously worked in the U.S. State Department and had interned with Congressman John Dingell and U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power. Born and raised in Birmingham and a proud graduate of Seaholm High School, Manoogian received strong support from former U.S. Senator Carl Levin, Congressman Sander Levin and his son and 9th House District-elect Andy Levin. The Levins condemned Wolkinson for "falsely accusing his opponent" of supporting terrorism with a last-ditch smear campaign.
“I am elated. I am so excited to not only represent my hometown but the whole district,” Manoogian said.
Republican Michael Webber held on Tuesday to the state's 45th District House District seat (Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oakland Township) with a 55/44 percent victory over Democratic challenger Kyle Cooper, who took 19,234 votes compared to Webber's 23,629.
Webber's victory secures a third term in the House for the solid conservative and a previous Rochester Hills City Council member. With a good understanding of his district, Webber said he's excited to work with a new governor.
"I'm really excited about it. It's been an honor to serve the greater Rochester area, and humbled that folks thought enough of me to send me back for my final two-year term," Webber said. "I'm looking forward to working with the new governor, and it's an opportunity for someone like myself who works across the aisle."
Oakland County Commission
In local county commissioner races, Republican Shelly Goodman Taub will continue to represent Birmingham, Bloomfield Township and Bloomfield Hills on the Oakland County Commission's 12th District seat. Taub tallied 17,027 votes (57 percent), beating Democratic challenger Cherie Horrigan-Happy, who received 12,611 votes (42.5 percent).
Taub has a long history in the community as a county commissioner, from 1993 to 2002, a state legislator, from 2002 to 2006, and again on the county commission since 2009.
Incumbent Democrat of the 13th District, Marcia Gershenson, will again represent Bloomfield Township on the Oakland County Commission after defeating Republican challenger Michelle Dinardo.
Gershenson, who has been on the county commission since 2004, took 67.5 percent of the vote, with Dinardo taking 32 percent.
Former Rochester Hills city councilman and Republican incumbent Adam Kochenderfer for the Oakland County Commission's 15th District seat beat out Democratic challenger Mary Ward by a vote of 13,559 (53.3 percent) to 11,819 (46.5 percent). Kochenderfer's work on a county subcommittee secured much needed energy upgrades by DTE Energy in Rochester and Rochester Hills. Such work in his district weren't forgotten by voters on Tuesday.
The open seat for the Oakland County Commission 11th District (Auburn Hills, Rochester Hills, Troy) was won by Republican Thomas Kuhn, who beat Democratic candidate Ann Erickson Gault. Kuhn, who won 52.1 percent of the 24,221 votes cast in the race, has served as a Royal Oak city commissioner and a trustee on the Oakland County Community College board. Erickson Gault took about 47.7 percent of the votes, or 12,630.
48th District Court
Oakland County 48th District Court Judge Diane D'Agostini will retain her seat on the bench following Tuesday's election results. D'Agostini, who was first elected to the bench in 2000, beat out challenger Amy Wechsler, with 37 of 71 precincts reporting at 2 a.m. on Wednesday. Those results showed D'Agostini with a sizable lead, taking 64 percent of the 46,391 votes cast at that time.
D'Agostini previously served as an assistant prosecutor, and has been responsible for several area youth outreach programs.
Statewide ballot proposals
All three statewide ballot proposals were approved by voters by wide margins. Proposal 1, to regulate marijuana like alcohol, which would legalize marijuana for recreational use for adults 21 and older, passed with 57 percent of voters approving the measure. Michigan will now become the tenth state in the United States and the first in the Midwest to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The proposal will not take effect until 10 days after the election is certified by the state Board of Canvassers, expected in early December.
“The passage of Proposal 1 is a major milestone for marijuana policy reform in the U.S. Michigan will be the first state in the Midwest to end marijuana prohibition and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated for adult use,” said Matthew Schweich, who spearheaded the campaign. “Adults will no longer be punished for consuming a substance less harmful than alcohol, and rather than having to resort to the illegal market, they will be able to access it safely and legally from licensed businesses. In addition to the public health and safety benefits associated with regulating marijuana, the state will have a significant new stream of tax revenue. Michigan is going to demonstrate that regulating marijuana works, and it will set a strong example for other states in the region and around the country."
Proposal 2, to have voters, not politicians, create political districts to get rid of gerrymandering, was approved by 60 percent of voters in Michigan.
“Our state constitution begins with, ‘All political power is inherent in the people,’” said Katie Fahey, founder and executive director of Voters Not Politicians. “Thousands of volunteers, from every county in our state, and spanning across political party lines, dedicated two years of their time, talents, and passion to make this people-powered campaign a reality. We’ve proven that when a thoughtful group of passionate citizens ban together to try and fix the problems our politicians won’t, we can make our state a better place. I couldn’t be more proud of what we have accomplished together, or of how amazing the people of Michigan are.”
Under this new constitutional amendment, maps cannot give a politician or party an unfair advantage. The commission will require compromises between its four Republicans, four Democrats, and five non-affiliated members by mandating at least two members of each group support any map before it can be approved.
Proposal 3, called “Promote the Vote,” promoting voter reforms, also passed, with almost 67 percent voter approval. Proposal 3 returns straight party voting, an introduces same-day registration, any reason absentee voting, and ensures the integrity and accuracy of elections.
Three incumbents were re-elected on Tuesday to retain their seats on the Rochester Community Schools District Board of Education. Barbara Anness, Michelle Bueltel and Andrea Walker-Leidy all ran unopposed. Annes, who was selected in 2017 to fill a vacancy, took 33.6 percent of the vote; Bueltel, who was elected in 2016, took 34 percent; and Walker-Leidy, who was appointed to the board in April, took 31.7 percent. A total of 62,456 votes cast in the race.
In Bloomfield Hills, with West Bloomfield precincts not reporting final results, two newcomers, Lisa Efros and Jennifer Cook, appear to be joining the Bloomfield Hills School Board, and incumbents Paul Kolin and Howard Baron were re-elected.
With 31 of 35 precincts reporting, Efros received the most votes, with 21.23 percent (9,378 votes), followed by Cook, who had almost 20 percent (8,776 votes). Kolin received 7,817 votes, for 17.7 percent, and Baron had 6,893 votes (15.61 percent). A total of 44,171 votes were cast among six candidates.
With only 22 of 35 precincts reporting, prevailing board member candidates for Birmingham Public Schools appeared to be Nicole McKinney with 19 percent of the vote; Amy Hockhammer, with 17 percent; and Jennifer Rass, with 15.48 percent of the reported vote. Seven candidates were running for three open seats.
Rochester voters overwhelmingly supported a ballot proposal to remove expenditure thresholds and some purchasing procedures from the city's charter. About 76 percent of votes cast (4,480) were in favor of the charter amendment with 23.8 percent (1,402) against it.
Rochester City Council began the process in October 2017 to put the charter amendment on the ballot in order to raise the city's spending threshold requiring a competitive bid process from $2,000 to $15,000, which had been in place since 1965.
Specifically, the amendment removes language referring to the requirement of a bid-process for all purchases over $2,000, and allows the threshold to be set by city ordinance, which sets that limit at $15,000.
Current Results - 8th Congressional District
Current Results - 9th Congressional District
Current Results - 11th Congressional District
Current Results - 12th State Senate District
Current Results - 13th State Senate District
Current Results - 40th State House District
Current Results - 45th State House District
Current Results - 11th District County Commission
Current Results - 12th District County Commission
Current Results - 15th District County Commission
Current Results - 48th District Court
Current Results - Birmingham School Board
Current Results - Bloomfield Hills School Board
Current Results - Proposal 1 - Marijuana Legalization
Current Results - Proposal 2 - Redistricting Amendment
Current Results - Proposal 3 - Voting Regulations
Current Results - City of Rochester - Charter Amendment