Tuesday, January 16, 2007

May Elections are about keeping control

John Roach of Bloomfield Hills deserves to be recognized.

He had two editorials published today regarding May vs. November elections:

Detroit News: Save taxpayers' money and coordinate school elections (01/16/07)
Oakland Press: Vote on twin high schools should be moved from May to November (01/16/07)

Bloomfield Hills is looking to build two new high schools for $140 million, and appears ready to place the issue on a May ballot. John advocates moving the vote to a November election.

He makes so many strong points that it's hard to choose a quote! But perhaps the most powerful is his rebuttal to the weak argument that May elections provide more attention to school issues:

"Adding school candidates and questions to the end of the (November) ballot would lead to less attention being paid to school issues, critics fear. But less attention cannot be paid than having the electorate fail to show up at all. The real issue appears to be fear of losing control."

A typical turnout for a May election is roughly 8% - 10%. If things are heated, or if there is "money on the ballot" (like a bond issue), a district might see 15% - 20% in May election.

Ruth Johnson, Oakland County Clerk (and former Michigan House Legislator) was one of the sponsors of the legislation that offered November elections to schools at little or no cost. She estimates that Oakland Districts spent approximately $1 million in 2005, and another million in 2006 to hold these private school elections. This is money that should've been spent in the classrooms.

But John's point speaks more to turnout. Clerk Johnson has release figures that show 8.9% of registered voters turned out for school elections in May, while 59.8% voted in November 2006 and 73.9% in November 2004.

Perhaps the most outrageous abuse of these "off-season" elections can be seen in the Romeo school district (Macomb County). They are holding a special election in February 2007 to try to pass a $91 million bond, and will then vote again 10-12 weeks later in May 2007 to elect two school board trustees. I'd bet the total cost to the district will be $70,000.

==> Mike.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is time to take control of our schools back from the MEA. They are the ones behind the May elections. They can elect their puppets and keep their blasted insurance. When a conservative board member slips through- everyone freaks out. Keeping May elections is irresponsible. Take back the schools from the MEA!