Detroit — Voters in Michigans largest school district appeared to choose incumbent Deborah Hunter-Harvill and Bishop Corletta J. Vaughn to fill two seats on the Detroit Board of Education.
With 97.4 percent of precincts reporting, Hunter-Harvill led the field of eight candidates with 16.4 percent of the vote, with Vaughn receiving 13.7 percent. Close behind in third place was Shannon Smith with 13.1 percent, followed by Reverend David Murray with 13 percent.
The winners among the eight candidates will serve four-year terms beginning Jan. 1.
This was the second election for the Detroit school board, the first being in 2016 when all eight current members were elected to terms starting Jan. 1, 2017. The field in the 2016 election had 63 candidates.
The district faces several challenges: its drinking water is tainted with lead and copper, it has $500 million in needed infrastructure repairs and its teacher shortage is around 200 positions.
In other Wayne County voting, incumbent county executive Warren Evans was re-elected to a second term.
Vaughn, 64, is a Cass Technical High School graduate, bishop and community activist.
Murray, 65, a Mumford High school graduate, is a former DPS board member first elected in 1998.
Smith, 28, is a graduate of King High School who has worked for the Federal Reserve, for the Detroit City Council as a legislative assistant and community advocate and for nonprofits.
Hunter-Harvill, 62, is a current DPSCD board member and chair of the boards academics and curriculum committee.
“It was a great day,” Hunter-Harvill said Tuesday evening. “You know what was the best part for me was I ran into five of my students. I used to be a principal in the district. I got a chance to see what theyre doing. They have kids. I felt really good. I thought it was a great voter turn out.”
Hunter-Harvill said one of her focuses is getting teachers and administrators trained on the districts new curriculum series.
“We’re on the bottom nationally,” she said. “I want them to get comfortable about our new curriculum so we can move forward. I want to increase achievement. I want to get back to work on what we can do with our infrastructure in terms of our really old buildings… There’s so much I want to be engaged in. I hope I have a chance.”
Another candidate, Terrell George, 35, used election day as a teachable moment for the basketball and football students he coaches at Paul Robeson Malcolm X Academy.
“I had a lot of basketball players and football players at the polls showing them what democracy looks like,” he said. “What you have to do when you want to take the future into your own hands.”
Other school board candidates are:
♦Natalya Henderson, 20, a graduate of Cass Tech High School, Greenleaf Trust Scholar and a Forbes Under 30 Elite member and fellow,
♦Britney Sharp, 28, a graduate of King High School who is an entrepreneur and event organizer.
♦Melinda Murray, brother of Reverend David Murrary.
In the county executives race, Evans, a Democrat, was challenged in his bid for a second term by Republican Denis Curran.
With 72.5 percent of precincts reporting, Evans was in the lead with 74.9 percent of the votes to Currans 24.5 percent.
“The first four years were recovery,” Evans said Tuesday evening. “I really see the next four years as rebuild. We certainly want to finish the criminal justice complex and have it up and running. Not only up and running, be built and staffed in a way that’s inclusive of everybody.”
During his first term, Evans said his team erased a structural deficit of $52 million, an accumulate deficit of $82 million and about a billion in unfunded liability in health care by restructuring health care benefits.
The county has had three years of balanced budgets.
“We’re now anticipating a fourth with surpluses that have been used to pay against those unfunded liabilities so we can reduce our liabilities in both pensions and health care,” he said. “It’s worked very well. We’re not totally out of the water. Were not 80 percent funded in pensions like we ought to be, but we’re 20 percent higher than when I took office and that’s significant.”
Evans said hed like to see upgrades to county parks with connectivity to city parks and the Huron-Clinton Metroparks.
Curran, a retired mechanical engineer from Livonia, said Tuesday evening that he ran for the office to represent the Republican platform. He said his focus was on financial responsibility. He took issue with the way the county handles its roads.
“As far as that money is being spent, I feel there could be some improvement,” he said.
Voters in communities across Wayne County faced a variety of tax requests. Among them:
With 92 percent of precincts reporting, 70 percent of voters in the Dearborn school district said yes to renewing a 1-mill operating levy for Henry Ford College for five years.
With 54 percent of precincts reporting, 56.9 percent of voters for the Grosse Pointe Public Schools were in favor of the districts request for a $111 million bond issue for building additions, and security and technology upgrades, with an estimated annual rate of 2.21 mills over 21 years.
Wayne-Westland Community Schools requested a $158 million bond issue for facility additions and renovations, technology upgrades and bus purchases, with an estimated annual rate of 4.38 mills over 25 years.With 13 percent of precincts reporting, the bond issue was leading with 67.6 percent voting yes.
Voters in the Wayne County Community College District appeared to be approving a 2.25-mill replacement levy for operations, which would raise an estimated $46.5 million in 2019. With 80 percent of precincts counted, the tax was receiving a 65 percent yes vote.
Grosse Ile Township is asking for a 2-mill increase over 12 years for road improvements and maintenance, generating an estimated $1.2 million in its first year. In early returns, the tax was losing with 59.8 percent voting no.