Absentee ballots for the November 8 general election are starting to arrive in mailboxes across the local area so in this edition of Downtown Newsmagazine we are providing a 35-page Voter Guide at the back of this issue, along with our recommendations on office-seekers and state-wide, county and local issues appearing on the ballot.
As in the past, we offer candidates' responses on a variety of issues we have raised with those seeking office, starting with Congress and then state Senate, House, Oakland County Commission and school board races.
We were particularly disappointed that a few candidates failed to respond to our numerous requests – emails and phones calls – to return questionnaires that serve not only as the content for the Voter Guide but also play a role in our endorsement process in which we combine their issue positions with our further research. In such cases, we publish the responses from the lone candidate responding, and write-off the others as likely not serious candidates for office or in some cases just names on the ballot as an accommodation to political party pooh-bahs who needed to fill a slot, something that I have witnessed more than once in some 50 past elections in which I have been involved.
We can only guess that there are probably a few who refused to participate in sharing their views with voters because of our policy or marker, if you will, that we laid down with the August primary election and continue to follow for the general election. As we announced in our July issue: as a matter of policy, we will not give our endorsement to any candidate who does not accept the results of the 2020 election. If someone running for office lives in an alternate reality which includes the belief that the 20220 national election was somehow stolen or rigged, after countless audits, recounts and 64 court rulings to the contrary, then we will not help advance that person to a position of power where they could inflict further damage to our democracy which is already teetering on the edge thanks to this vocal subset of the general population.
As we did for the August primary election, we asked all candidates their position on this critical issue, including those running for local school boards, in large part because we see politics creeping into the world of education where it should have no place, despite the efforts of some misled political leaders in Oakland County that would have otherwise. We can report that not one candidate running for local school boards subscribed to the 'Big Steal” conspiracy theory.
As a side note on the topic of school boards and the upcoming election, I can't stress enough the importance of our followers focusing their attention on this part of the general election ballot because the quality of the local education system is at stake.
For far too many years, school board elections in this state were held in May and in most cases drew less than 10 percent turnout of voters, which meant that a minority of the population decided the fate of one of the most important pieces of the public agenda puzzle – public education.
In 2011 the state legislature passed and Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law a requirement that school districts move board elections to the November elections of even-numbered years.
The logic was that school districts would save an estimated $8 million by not holding elections in off-months and off-cycle years, and the move would increase participation by a broader base of voters.
Opponents at the time countered that putting non-partisan school board elections at the end of a November ballot would water down participation but that has not proven to be the case. There is a drop off in voting for school candidates, just like judicial candidates, probably due to the fact that voters (likely those without kids in school) often know less about school board hopefuls than those running in the partisan part of the ballot. But overall the original logic behind the legislation has held true – more voices are being heard when it comes to school board races – and that 's a good outcome.
After all, that was the principal behind our system of schools when first created in the 1800s by Horace Mann, often referred to as the Father of American Education. Publicly funded, open to all. Non-sectarian. Students with a variety of backgrounds, races. Education based on the tenets of a free society. An equal footing for all students as a benefit to the community at-large.
But we are starting to detect disconcerting attacks on the basic logic behind public education, both from outside the education system and inside some districts. Attempts to syphon off tax money to route funding to private and religious schools. Bold attempts in some areas to force religion into the classrooms. Even bolder misguided attempts by some parents to impose their limited view of what their children should be taught as the order of the day for all students in the school.
Take the time to read in our Voter Guide about the school candidates and their views. Then turn to our choices for the board of education in the two local school districts. We have spent considerable time determining who would be best at assuring the schools reach the goals of public education that were envisioned many years ago.