By CYNTHIA KMETT
There will be some sweeping and drastic – make that Democratic – changes in the politics of Michigan in the coming four years. Democratic women, including incoming Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, topped the ticket. She will be joined in Lansing by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel. In addition, voters sent Democrat Debbie Stabenow back to the Senate for a fourth term as she beat Republican John James by over 80,000 votes.
There were two women in the race to represent the 11th Congressional District in Washington DC, Republican Lena Epstein and Democrat Haley Stevens. They would take the seat held by Dave Trott who chose not to seek another term. Neither one was a household name for most voters, and the campaign was fierce. Stevens won the seat 51- 45.
The men running for office obviously didn’t see what voters were telling pollsters – their biggest concern was health care by a wide margin.
But the real stunners in last Tuesday’s election were, perhaps, locally. That made the Republican victory party at Sedona Taphouse a pretty quiet affair.
Even early, returns showed Republican State Sen. Marty Knollenberg behind newcomer to politics Royal Oak’s Mallory McMorrow. Knollenberg has been representing Troy residents for more than a decade, first as an Oakland County Commissioner and then for six years in the Michigan House. He does, however, have a job. He is an Allstate Insurance agent in Troy and owner of Sedona Taphouse, which is opening a second restaurant in Novi.
His loss was a bit of a surprise to his supporters, but he was gracious in thanking them for their support and wishing our new state senator success.
Former Troy Council member Doug Tietz was in a tough race with Planning Commission member Padma Kuppa for the state house seat that represents Troy and Clawson. Kuppa beat Tietz 22,317 to 21,170.
In thanking his supporters, Tietz noted that “whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, it’s all about doing the right thing for our communities.”
Kuppa noted, “We left it all out on the field.” She thanked her supporters for the energy so many people have put into making this a campaign to be proud of.
“This is a win for everyone who believes in the beauty of their dreams, as Eleanor Roosevelt said. I am ready to start working in Lansing with my colleagues from across the state, to ensure that our policies and our budget reflect our priorities: investing in our children’s education and our infrastructure, protecting our environment that all we hold dear,” Kuppa said.
Her victory does leave two vacancies on the powerful Troy Planning Commission for Mayor Dane Slater to fill, just in case you want to turn in your resume.
Not as surprised by his Democratic opponent Penny Luebs’ victory to serve as County Commissioner in the 16th District was former Troy councilmember Wade Fleming. He pointed out that in the primary campaign, there were more Democrats voting than Republicans in the district, which covers southern Troy and Clawson.
One Republican candidate, Troy attorney Thomas Kuhn, defeated Democrat Ann Erickson Gault. But his victory wasn’t enough to stop the change on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners from a Republican majority to a Democratic majority at 11-10. This should make some of County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s proposals take a bit more time for consideration in the future. Patterson quickly promised he would be working to maintain the county’s AAA bond rating, and bringing more jobs to Oakland.
All three proposals passed in the state. Prop 1 legalizes the recreational use of marijuana, though you’re unlikely to see retail shops for another year. Prop 2 was spearheaded by Voters Not Politicians in an effort to end gerrymandering. A redistricting committee will now be formed. And Prop 3 returns straight-ticket voting and establishes “no excuse necessary” absentee voting.