Tax proposals, few candidates on August 4 ballot
In the midst of a pandemic, with the possibility that distancing and other precautions may continue to be necessary, important elections will be held August 4 and November 3. Even with so much else requiring our focus, Dearborn voters will need to make informed choices on candidates and ballot questions.
We don’t even know for certain what voting will look like this year, although indications now are that there will be in-person voting at schools as usual, even while more voters are likely to take advantage of the vote-by-mail option.
The electoral main event this year is, of course, the presidential election in November. Otherwise, most local elected officials are unopposed for re-election, or nearly so. There will be ballot proposals that affect how much property tax you will pay, so those will be worth paying attention to.
Two local officials who are up for re-election have already won, by virtue of being unopposed.
Wayne County Commissioner Sam Baydoun has no opposition this year and will begin his second term in January. And, District Judge Mark Somers will get a fourth term without having to campaign, since no opponents filed to run against him by the deadline for becoming a candidate.
Somers running unopposed is notable because he won re-election in 2014 and 2008 by a grand total of 313 votes – combined, for both elections. He certainly had the most narrow consecutive re-elections of any judge in Dearborn history (and probably in the state), winning over challenger Tony Guerrerio by 85 votes six years ago and by 228 votes over Candyce Abbott six years before that.
Also unopposed this year are several incumbent judges of Wayne County 3rd Circuit Court, including Dearborn residents Charlene Elder, Mariam Bazzi and Helal Farhat.
Tax proposals on August 4 ballot
Of greatest impact to Dearborn voters on the August 4 ballot will be two property tax renewal proposals that will combine to generate over $53 million annually for Wayne County government.
The county is asking for a 10-year renewal of just under 1 mill for general operations, while also asking for a 5-year renewal of just under one-quarter mill for county parks.
The tax for general operations costs the owner of a home worth $150,000 roughly $75 a year. The same homeowner pays around $18 per year for the county parks millage. The precise amount can vary depending on how long you’ve owned your house. Of course, you will pay more or less than this example if your house is worth more or less than $150,000.
Only Democratic candidates on primary ballot
The August elections are also called “primary” elections, because we first determine who will be each party’s candidate in partisan elections in November. That is, Democratic and Republican candidates compete within their own parties to decide who advances to the November ballot.
Most primary election contests around here are in the Democratic column for county and federal offices. I've listed names of current officeholders in bold type.
Congresswoman Debbie Dingell has a challenger in the Democratic primary, Solomon Rajput of Ann Arbor. Rajput, 27, is a medical student at the University of Michigan. Republican Jeff Jones will challenge the winner in November.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy will be challenged in the Democratic primary by Victoria Burton-Harris. Treasurer Eric Sabree will face Beverly Kindle-Walker and Sheriff Benny Napoleon will has two Democratic primary challengers, Charles Corley II and T.P. Nykoriak. No Republican candidates have filed in those races, so the winners on August 4 will serve new four-year terms.
County Register of Deeds Bernard Youngblood is challenged by Ricardo Moore in the Democratic primary, with Republican Parker Burns set to run against the winner in November.
Detroit State Rep. Karen Whitsett represents three precincts in the northeast portion of Dearborn, and she has three challengers in the Democratic primary. Republican James Stephens will challenge the winner in November.
Dearborn state Rep. Abdullah Hammoud has no opponent on the August 4 ballot, but will face Republican challenger Carla O’Neill in November.
Earlier, there appeared to be one statewide Republican primary election, for U.S. Senate, but one of the two candidates was disqualified by election officials. So there are no primary elections for Republican candidates on Dearborn's August ballot.
Arguably the most important candidate election for Dearborn voters will be in November, when four seats on the seven-member Dearborn Board of Education will be on the ballot. Especially given the challenges for schools during the pandemic, school board trustees will face some major decisions with significant impact on our community. But, that has nothing to do with the August 4 ballot.
How will we vote during a pandemic?
City Clerk George Darany expects that voting will be held as usual this year, with voting at schools in addition to the usual absentee voting. He cautions, though, that this could change, and he will keep residents informed.
It seems logical that many voters will consider voting by absentee ballot this year, to reduce whatever risk of coronavirus infection might exist with in-person voting.
Voting by mail is heating up as a debate nationally, with the President opposing widespread mail voting despite the fact that absentee voting has been around for a long time, and, in fact, five states conduct all elections only by mail: Hawaii, Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Utah.
It’s a moot point in Michigan, since voters in 2018 approved voting by absentee ballot for anyone who wants to. Previously, a voter had to be age 60 or over, or declare some other reason why they could not vote in person. Not anymore. If every single voter in Michigan wants to cast ballots by mail, they can.