Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Vote Today: School Board Elections

3. May 2005 • Scott Trudeau
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Sorry for the late notice on this, but today are the school board elections in most parts of the state. Find your polling location at

Previous AU Coverage:

  1. See election results (very incomplete as of yet) on this cumulative results page .
       —Larry Kestenbaum    May. 4 '05 - 02:33AM    #
  2. Thanks Larry for posting the cumulative results page. It will be a big help in tracking the numbers before we read the paper tomorrow.
       —Bob Dascola    May. 4 '05 - 02:46AM    #
  3. Well the results are in, and what they show are a clear mandate for the outstanding leadership that Karen Cross and Glenn Nelson have provided at the Board level over the last two years.

    As much as bitter remnants of the old School Board regime might like to deny it, the district is headed on the right track.

    With all the NHS controversies and whiny NIMBY school site people, the fact of the matter is that most Ann Arbor voters kept their eyes on the big picture. And the big picture shows the district being run masterfully by the administration with helpful guidance from the Board.

    Irene Patalan’s election, though by a slim margin over David Hunscher, shows that competence and intelligence as well as a passion for children and a long record of service to the district is what voters want from a trustee. And nobody exhibits those characteristics more clearly than Irene Patalan. She will shine as a Board member.

    The next four years are going to be tough ones for the district, with a lot of complicated issues to be resolved. With this trio and the other sitting trustees our voters today ensured solid leadership for the rest of the decade.
       —Tom Jensen    May. 4 '05 - 04:32AM    #
  4. Jesus, Jensen, you sound like Scott McLellan announcing Bush’s mandate. We got, what, 125,000 in this city? And the top candidate got 4,000 votes?
    Do you physically manipulate the genitals of these school board members, or is this handjob as close as you get?
       —js    May. 4 '05 - 01:09PM    #
  5. Your subtle and sophisticated wit is appreciated as always, js…
       —Murph    May. 4 '05 - 01:26PM    #
  6. The head to head between the incumbents and Hunscher is 58-42. Percentage wise that would have been the equivalent of someone winning the popular vote in the Presidential Election by 20,000,000 votes which likely would have also meant them winning a number of electoral votes in the high 300’s if not more. So don’t compare me to Scott McClellan.

    If that’s not a mandate I don’t know what is. Sure turnout was low, but it’s always low for school elections. The folks who really follow and care about the school district are the ones who vote, and those people overwhelmingly supported the direction of the district. Plus, low turnout generally is a sign of content voters who figure there’s no reason to get out to ‘throw out the bums.’
       —Tom Jensen    May. 4 '05 - 02:47PM    #
  7. What would the vote tally be in a nationwide Chinese election?
       —Dale    May. 4 '05 - 03:10PM    #
  8. I thought all the candidates had something to offer, and I agree that a lot of voters are basically satisfied with the current board.

    That being said, it is sheer sophistry to compare Hunscher’s vote, running alone, to the two incumbents, who were running on a slate. Undoubtedly most people who voted for Hunscher also voted for one or two people on the slate.

    The most meaningful proportion here would be each candidate’s votes over the total ballots cast in the district. I think that would show substantial majorities for the two incumbents, and probably 50% each for Patalan and Hunscher.

    Indeed, they might both have gotten more than half of the votes. In a vote-for-three with four serious choices, it’s not at all uncommon for all four candidates to receive a majority of the votes. The smallest majority loses, though!
       —Larry Kestenbaum    May. 4 '05 - 04:20PM    #
  9. By that measure the results are as follows:

    Karen Cross 59.4%
    Glenn Nelson 58.8%
    Irene Patalan 45.5%
    David Hunscher 42.6%

    Still shows a significant majority of voters wanting to return the incumbents.
       —Tom Jensen    May. 4 '05 - 05:51PM    #
  10. Un- and under-informed voters tend to vote for incumbents, so an alternate explanation is that they won due to ignorant patriots lazily executing their civic duty. * shrug *
       —Scott    May. 4 '05 - 06:18PM    #
  11. Another way of looking at it is that the incumbent board president didn’t get 60%.
       —Steve Bean    May. 4 '05 - 07:38PM    #
  12. What percentage of the vote did you expect her to get? In 2002, only 45.5% of voters supported her, so she’s got 12% more of the electorate with her now.

    And 58% is a lot for an incumbent Board President.

    By comparison,

    Theresa Han-Markey, who served as Board President during the rest of 2002-2003, received 37.7% of the vote when she ran in 2004.

    Kate Conway, who served as Board President during 2001-2002 and part of 2002-2003, received 32.5% of the vote in 2003.

    Bob Rasmussen, who served as Board President during 2000-2001, received 49.4% of the vote in 2001.

    These numbers are determined by taking the number of votes the candidates received over the number of voters in the election.

    Karen runs over 20 points ahead of the two Board President of the previous regime, Conway and Han-Markey. Looks to me like the voters know who they want leading the Board.
       —Tom Jensen    May. 4 '05 - 08:03PM    #
  13. How many candidates / seats were in the races you’re citing, Tom? Was the ratio the same as this race’s 4 candidates for 3 spots?
       —Scott    May. 4 '05 - 08:16PM    #
  14. In 2004 the results were:
    Helen Gates-Bryant (I) 44.3
    Theresa Han-Markey (I) 37.7
    Blank 18.0 (Many people voted only on the Facilities Package and not for a trustee)

    In 2003 the results were:
    Deb Mexicotte 62.2
    Susan Baskett 53.9
    Randy Friedman (I) 41.6
    Jeff Harrold 40.2
    Kate Conway (I) 32.5
    Noah Hurwitz 28.1

    In 2001 the results were:
    Bob Rasmussen (I) 49.4
    Theresa Han-Markey 46.1
    Gary Gatien 44.2
    Kathy Griswold 43.7
    Sabra Briere 37.9
    Craig Warburton 30.0
    Joe Gelinas 21.4

    So the results are not directly comparable because of varying sizes of the candidate pool.

    Nonetheless Scott, I disagree with your statement that ignorant voters showed and kept in the incumbents.

    Since 1998 only seven of twelve incumbents running for reelection to the Board won until this year. (McQueen, Browning, Ramussen, Cross, Griswold, Friedman, Gates-Bryant won) (Garnett, Hockett, Conway, Geier, Han-Markey lost) This is not an overwhelming record of incumbent victory.

    And no other Board President has had the success level running for reelection of Karen.

    I’m not going to argue here anymore about whether voters like the direction the district is headed in. Nobody is left now from the Board majority that fired Rossi Ray-Taylor except Randy Friedman. The voters either turned them out or they chose not to run for reelection.

    On the other hand the voters who cared enough to show up yesterday resoundingly reelected Cross and Nelson. And the small candidate pool to begin with shows that most people are pretty happy with where the district is going.
       —Tom Jensen    May. 4 '05 - 08:34PM    #
  15. I completely agree that, by the standard of past Ann Arbor school board races, the incumbents did unusually well in this election.

    For years, liberal and conservative slates won in alternating years; with three-year terms, any incumbents who dared seek re-election were buried by the other side. Obviously the “outs” in each cycle invariably had many grievances and were more energized than the “ins”.

    But I also thought that there was always a lot of nonideological, free-floating rage at the school board and administration, year after year regardless of policies and personalities, so that incumbents seeking re-election against organized opposition were under a double disadvantage. That rage seemed to explain the huge victory of Bill Browning (running far ahead of three incumbents) when he first ran.

    In this context, the easy victory of the two incumbents, along with the newcomer on their slate, is powerful testimony to community satisfaction with the current direction of the schools.
       —Larry Kestenbaum    May. 4 '05 - 09:01PM    #
  16. Tom,

    From your original infomercial on behalf of the winners, I would have expected 60% or more.

    The data you’ve subsequently supplied are more persuasive that the victories of Cross and Nelson were decisive. That of Patalan is still questionable in my opinion, and your assertions about her remain to be seen.

    The winners have my congratulations, and all four candidates have my respect and thanks for taking on the challenges and responsibilities and all that goes with them.
       —Steve Bean    May. 5 '05 - 03:27AM    #
  17. An off-year May election? A turnout of, say, what percent of eligible voters? I’d say that the mandate runs toward apathy, and that a good 90% of Ann Arbor voters don’t give a shit who runs the schools. And hey, if I have the time, I’ll look at the publius spending records, where I’m pretty sure that Hunscher will be outspent 3:1 (at least). At our polling place, we had a total of, what, 150 voters by 5pm? And we had eight signs for the winning slate outside?
       —js    May. 5 '05 - 07:55PM    #
  18. Much as I’d like to see greater voter participation across the board, it’s kind of inarguable that people who refuse to take part don’t really count, when the question is community perception of the school board.

    I think moving the election from a Monday in mid-June to a Tuesday in early May will encourage greater participation; indeed, this year’s alection, despite a lack of hard-fought contests around the county, seems to have drawn turnout above the average for June school elections in the recent past.

    We’ll have final turnout figures soon, and I’ll post detailed comparisons in my blog.
       —Larry Kestenbaum    May. 6 '05 - 05:35AM    #