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November 06, 2002 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-11-06

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LOCAL

The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, November 6, 2002 - 5

Proposals to eliminate
straight ticket voting,
bargaining rights fail.

By Rahwa Ghebre-Ab
Daily Staff Reporter
Yesterday voters headed to the polls to voice their deci-
sions on straight ticket voting, the sale of state bonds for
infrastructure improvements and the collective bargaining
rights of Michigan government employees.
Only one of the three proposals met success at the polls
while the other two failed to earn the votes needed to pass.
Proposal 02-1: FAILED.
With a 60/40 split, the proposal for straight ticket voting,
which stated that voters would no longer be able to choose a
party's slate of candidates with only one mark on their bal-
lots, did not pass.
This decision backs the petition drive, which put the law
of banning straight ticket voting to a referendum. Since the
proposal failed, voters will still be able to use straight ticket
voting.
"We know people wanted a chance to vote it down and
they did," said Party spokesman Ben Kohrman, who stated
that Democrats opposed the proposal.
Kohrman noted that after the Republican-controlled Leg-
islature approved the law ending straight party voting,
Democrats were able to easily collect enough signatures to
put the referendum on the ballot.
""We collected 350,000 signatures in the dead of winter
in only 60 days," Kohrman said.
Proposal 02-2: PASSED.
This proposal was expected to pass and did so by a com-
fortable margin of about 10 points.
The proposal asked the voters to approve the sale of $1
billion in state bonds for the purpose of funding sewage
treatment infrastructure improvements.
"There will be less sewage going into lakes and it will fix
what has become a serious water quality problem in Michi-
gan ... people will see a marked improvement in the quality
of the water, especially near urban areas," said Anne Woi-
wode, director of the Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club,
America's largest, oldest and most influential grassroots
environmental organization.
The distribution of the funds is dependent on the commu-
nities that require funding.
"The communities will have to access their own funds
Brater scores
majority vote,
18th District
overDarr
Former Ann Arbor mayor, abortion
rights supporter gains Senate seat
By Karen Schwartz
Daily Staff Reporter
Democratic candidate Liz Brater declared victory in
the 18th District State Senate race last night, taking
almost 70 percent of the vote in'a victory over Republi-
can opponent Gordon Darr, a Scio Township Trustee
from Dexter.
Brater takes the Michigan state Senate seat left
vacant by Democrat Alma Wheeler Smith, who was
unable to run for re-election because of term limits.
A former Ann Arbor mayor, Brater served in the
House from 1995 to 2000 and as an Ann Arbor City
Council member. She said she looks forward to return-
ing to Lansing to work on the issues that are important
to her constituents.
"I'm really looking forward to going back and work-
ing for you," she told the cheering crowd gathered last
night at Arbor Brewing Company on East Washington
Street as the numbers rolled in.
"I'm very delighted. I'm very grateful for the confi-
dence the voters of Washtenaw County have placed in
me and I'm going to work hard to represent them in
Lansing," she said.
Issues including education, environmental issues,
health care and rebuilding the Michigan economy top
her list of priorities, Brater said.
She added that regardless of who controls Congress,
Jennifer Granholm's position as governor will help
assure Democrats of a voice in state government.
"Having a Democratic governor will definitely give
us more leverage than we've had in the last 12 years

because in the last few years we've had complete
Republican control of Lansing," she said.

"There will be less sewage
going into lakes and it will fix
what has become a serious
water quality problem in
Michigan ... people will see a
marked improvement in the
quality of the water,
especially near urban areas"
- Anne Woiwode
Director of the Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club
and take advantage of them ... they need to be willing to go
ahead and do that," Woiwode said.
According to the non-partisan state Senate Fiscal Agency,
the proposal would cost Michigan taxpayers $334 each over
the next 30 years, or $11 per year.
Proposal 02-3:TOO CLOSE TO CALL.
The votes were split nearly down the middle for Proposal
02-3. It proposed amending the state Constitution to guaran-
tee Michigan government employees the right to collective
bargaining.
With 29 percent of precincts reporting, 51 percent of those
who cast ballots, or 401,580, had voted against the measure,
while 49 percent, or 378,877, had voted in favor as of 2 a.m.
The proposal was placed on yesterday's ballot by the
Michigan Employee Rights Initiative - calling itself
MERIT - which submitted about 400,000 petition signa-
tures. The proposal allowed for Michigan employees to initi-
ate binding arbitration through a third party in case
bargaining fails.
"The proposal was meant to give us a chance to have a
level playing field and to have our disputes be settled by a
neutral party and not a politically appointed service com-
mission," said Alan Kilar, president of the Michigan
Employee Rights Initiative, which supported the proposal.
- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

EMMA FOSDICK/Daily
Democratic Mayoral incumbent John Hieftje speaks to one of his supporters at a victory party at Arbor Brewing Company
yesterday evening following a victory against Republican Councilwoman Marcia Higgins.
Hieftjoe attiutesvictoryo
city's undertakings, takes
cear victory over Higgns
By Christopher Johnson
and Erin Saylor
Daily Staff Reporters

Possibly a sign of approval of the mayor's restructuring
of the city government in his last term, voters in Ann
Arbor by an overwhelming majority renewed Democrat
John Hieftje's term as mayor in yesterday's election.
Hieftje, a real estate agent, ran against Republican
Councilwoman Marcia Higgins, an executive assistant for
Ardesta L.L.C.
"This election is a huge affirmation of the project we
have undertaken," he said, emphasizing the city's work in
balancing the budget and protecting the environment.
Hieftje joined his fellow Democrats in celebrating vic-
tory at the Arbor Brewing Company on Washington
Avenue last night. He said he would commemorate his
victory by participating in a fishing trip with his family
in northern Michigan.
Although all precincts had yet to report as of last night,
the city tallied Hieftje's victory against Republican Coun-
cilwoman Marcia Higgins by a margin of 24,092 to
7,849.
Democratic Councilman Chris Easthope, who ran
unopposed in the election, said the continued Democratic
leadership in the city places more accountability on its
officials.

"Thursday night we're going to get to work," he said.
"We've got a lot of responsibility with a 9 to 2 majority
(on city council)."
Higgins, among Republican supporters at the Cottage
Inn on William Street, was disappointed by the loss but
tried to focus on the positive aspects of her campaign.
"I think that we did what we set out to do ... and we
got a lot of issues out there," she said. "From there it's the
people's choice."
Many Republican supporters blamed straight ticket
voting for the election results.
"It's a shame that what's at the top of the ticket has
such an effect on what happens to us locally," said Ingrid
Sheldon, former Republican mayor of Ann Arbor.

Polls show DeRossett edging
out Byrnes in 52nd District

EMMA FOSDICK/Daily
Democrat Liz Brater speaks about her victory against Gordon
Darr at Arbor Brewing Company yesterday evening.
Brater said that either way, Democrats will have the
chance to make an impact this term.
"I think no matter if you are in the majority or
minority, you have the ability to make an impact. You
can use your office to educate people about issues, to
hold task forces and to propose legislation that makes a
difference," she said.
With regard to higher education, Brater emphasized
the importance of maintaining funding.
"Eastern (Michigan University) and the University of
Michigan are very important to me and we need to pro-
tect dollars for higher education and try to help keep
tuition costs down," she said.

Shabina S. Khatri
and Kylene Kiang
Daily Staff Reporters
In a tight race, incumbent GOP Rep. Gene DeRossett led
the polls over Democratic opponent Pam Byrnes last night
with a 9 percent margin out of the 67 percent of precincts tal-
lied at 2 a.m. DeRossett led with 1,393 votes or 54 percent,
with Byrnes at 1,206 as of 2 a.m. Only three precincts had
reported their tallies.
After learning of early wins in Lodi Township and Saline,
DeRossett supporters remained optimistic throughout the
evening. Despite holding the incumbent advantage, the newly
redistricted lines - drawn to include a largely Democratic
section of northern Ann Arbor and much of western Washte-
naw Country - posed a significant challenge to DeRossett.
But DeRossett attributed his success to the strong connec-
tion he has maintained with his constituents.
"I've been to every community meeting I've been invited to.
I think it's about being active in the community. I've found it
makes a difference,"he said.
Angela Randazzo, a staff member in Lansing, said DeRos-
sett used a grassroots strategy to reach as many voters in the
newly redrawn district as possible.

"(One tactic) he used was to go door-to-door to get to know
who these people are," Randazzo said.
Peter Wills, DeRossett's legislative assistant, said his
boss's willingness to cross party lines helped him win over
bipartisan support.
"(DeRossett) can be categorized as an independent moder-
ate Republican who has worked both sides. The Michigan
Education Association endorsed him because of his public
stance against vouchers ... and he fought with other Republi-
cans against his party to make sure the waiting week for
unemployment benefits did not occur," Wills said.
Michigan State University senior Mike Comonaco, DeRos-
sett's campaign manager, emphasized the congressman's dedi-
cation as the defining element of his success.
"I've never seen someone as unique as Gene. To him, it's
about good public policy," Comonaco said. "He's very con-
stituent-oriented. It's the little things, like (putting up) his own
signs, which don't have his office number on them, but his
home number."
Despite clear hopes of unseating the Republican incumbent,
challenger Pam Byrnes of Lyndon Township fell short of a
Democratic victory. Though she lends her success in Ann
Arbor to bipartisan support, Byrnes expressed distaste for par-
tisan politics.

Democrats gain Ann Arbor City Council seats

Spousal support

By Jeremy Berkowitz
and Christopher Johnson
Daily Staff Reporters
Democrats won a landslide victory in the Ann
Arbor City Council race yesterday, winning every
seat open for election. The party will now enjoy an
8 to 2 majority on the city council, in addition to
the vote of the mayor.
Celebrating his party's victory at the Arbor
Brewing Company on Washington Avenue, State
Rep. Chris Kolb announced the victory of his fel-
low Democrats with unrestrained enthusiasm.
"It' a great night for the City of Ann Arbor."

She partially attributed her win to greater voter
turnout. While she said only 25 votes were cast for
her ward in total at Mary Markley Residence Hall
in the election she lost last year, she received more
than 200 votes this year at the Markley polling
place alone.
Retired teacher Jean Carlberg, who ran as the
incumbent in the 3rd Ward, said she was elated by
her victory, but realized more work demanded her
attention.
"It is sort of business as usual because there's a
lot of work ahead of me and I know what it is," she
said. "I'm the longest serving (city council mem-
ber) and I love my job."

to 2,422.
It was not a good night for Republicans hoping
to gain a bigger role on the Ann Arbor City Coun-
cil. Claiming they were victims of a Democratic
city and straight ticket voting, Washtenaw County
Republican Chairwoman Marlene Chockley said
she was perplexed by the "stupidity" of the voters
and their unawareness of the issues.
"We have a lot of ignorance going on out there,"
Chockley said. "They vote straight ticket."
DeBoer said he was not surprised due to the
large amount of Democrats in his district, but was
happy about his efforts to bring out the relevant
issues.

I I. I

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