Voters chose new members to three university boards and the state Board of Education on Tuesday andthe nearly-complete election returns showed close vote totals, with a mix of returns.
Among all the races, Democrats were prevailing in the closely watched race of the Michigan State University Board of Trustees, giving hope to some that culture change is on the horizon after the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal.
With 82 of 83 counties reporting on the Secretary of State website Wednesday morning, Democrat Brianna Scott of Muskegon was leading with 1,427,458 votes, or 24 percent. She was followed by Democrat Kelly Tebay of Pittsfield Township who garnered 1,395,222, or 23.47 percent. Republican Mike Miller of Okemos had received 1,379,094, with 23.2 percent and Republican business executive Dave Dutch of Traverse City had 1,350,633 votes cast, or 22.7 percent.
“To all of you Voters and Supporters of Brianna Scott 4 MSU, I say thank you for sharing your stories and hope for a better Michigan with me and giving me the opportunity to do my part as a Trustee of Michigan State University!,” Scott said in a statement this morning. “I look forward to serving and restoring the trust, integrity and pride back to MSU.”
Morgan McCaul, one of Nassars hundreds of accusers, said she looks forward to a new future at MSU.
“For years, my sister survivors and I have been calling for a radical change in the structure and culture of the MSU Board of Trustees,” said McCaul. “I’m ecstatic that the candidates who enthusiastically support the Reclaim MSU policy proposals will be representing students and faculty for years to come.”
The states largest university has been embroiled in controversy this year, with its response to Nassars crimes prompting the resignation of top officials, including former president Lou Anna Simon and former athletic director Mark Hollis.
The universitys handling of allegations against Nassar also led some to call for the resignation of the entire Board of Trustees, while others unsuccessfully called for the ouster of Interim President John Engler, a Republican former governor.
The leading trustee candidates all seem to agree that keeping tuition affordable, selecting the right person as president and restoring trust in MSUs leadership are key issues in the wake of Nassar, who sexually assaulted hundreds of women over two decades while employed as a sports doctor at the university.
The board is split between four Democrats and four Republicans.
Nominees from the Libertarian, U.S. Taxpayers, Green and Natural Law parties were also running.
The winners will replace board Chairman Brian Breslin and Trustee Mitch Lyons, both Republicans, who are not seeking re-election.
In the University of Michigan race, incumbent Republican Regent Andrea Fischer Newman of Ann Arbor led with 1,444,987 votes, or 24.7 percent, with 82 out of 83 precincts reporting. She was followed by Democratic newcomer Jordan Acker, an attorney, who had 1,378,131, or 23.6 percent of the votes. Incumbent Republican Andrew Richner of Grosse Pointe Park And Democrat Paul Brown, a UM adjunct professor received 1,327,356 and 1,303,562, or 22.7 percent and 22.3 percent, respectively.
For two seats at Wayne State University, Republican Governor Diane Dunaskiss of Lake Orion and Democratic newcomer Bryan Barnhill were leading with 1,389,176 and 1,342,038 votes, or 24.7 and 23.9 percent. Trailing were incumbent Republican Governor David Nicholson of Grosse Pointe and Anil Kumar of Bloomfield Hills with 1,306,767 and 1,244,015 votes, or 23.2 and 22.1 percent.
In the race for two seats on the State Board of Education, Republican accountant Tami Carlone and Republican board member Richard Zeile of Dearborn were leading with 27.13 percent and24.35 percent, respectively.
Close behind wereDemocratic challengers Judy Pritchett, former Center Line superintendent, and Tiffany Tilley, a Southfield Democratic activist, with 20.20 percent and 18.85 percent, respectively.
In the MSU race, Tebay, 31, said she ran because shes a recent graduate whos far removed from the university, should sit on the board. She works in development for United Way for Southeastern Michigan in Detroit.
The Democrats bid for a trustee seat is also personal. Tebay said she was sexually assaulted on campus. She said the university failed to show compassion to the victims of Nassar and admit mistakes were made at the height of the scandal. She hopes to change the distrust in the board by making it more accountable, accessible and transparent.
Miller, 70, said he decided to run for trustee because he has been an East Lansing resident his entire life and a supporter of the university. He retired from running the orthopedic business he started in Holt.
It was also personal for him, too. His daughter, who doesnt want to be identified with the Nassar crisis, was a competitive gymnast and recruited to play volleyball at MSU and was treated by Nassar. Miller said he knew all of her friends, who were also treated by Nassar.
Scott, a lawyer based in Muskegon and the other Democratic nominee, said she was running because so many people in the MSU community supported her through graduation after she got pregnant at age 20 during her junior year. Many also encouraged her to go on to law school at Wayne State University, she said, something she might not have done without their nudging.
She emphasized her 18 years practicing law, including three years as a prosecutor in Muskegon County. Plus, she noted that she is the only African-American woman running and would represent a new point of view on the board.
Scott, 43, said the top issue is selecting the right leader to be president. College affordability is also critical, Scott said, because tuition hikes are putting college out of reach.
Dutch said he ran because hes been on boards and understands billion-dollar budgets and organizations.
Now semi-retired at age 53 after being a business executive, Dutch was born and raised in East Lansing. His family has worked at and attended the university for decades, with his father working for 52 years as a personnel administrator. His parents met there, and seven of his 10 siblings attended MSU.