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November 7, 2012

Incumbents lead the way in election results around Southfield

By Jessica Strachan
C & G Staff Writer

Like cities all across metro Detroit, the lines to vote in the 2012 general election throughout Southfield were long, and in some cases tiresome, but that didn’t stop local voters from casting their ballots.

Southfield-area voters chose county commissioners, a state representative and two more members to sit on the Southfield Public Schools Board of Education.

Incumbent Rudy Hobbs, a Democrat, won the spot for state representative in the 35th District over Republican Timothy C. Sulowski. For the District 21 county commissioner race, incumbent Democrat Janet Jackson beat out Libertarian Dick Gach with a landslide vote of 91 percent.

Jackson said the campaign to serve a newly-drawn district that now includes a portion of Farmington Hills went well with no Republican challenger.

“A new district brings new constituents to serve,” Jackson said via email. “I look forward to meeting new residents, community leaders and public officials as we’ll all strive together to be the best communities we can. … I want to continue to bring county information and resources to District 21, and be a viable, visible public servant at the grass-root level.”

Incumbent Democrat Nancy Quarles, who serves as county commissioner for District 23, was elected to represent District 17 for her next term. She beat Republican Milton Dzodin, who was running for his first elected position, with 87 percent of the votes.

Quarles said she did a lot of her time campaigning in Oak Park and Lathrup Village, which are new territories in her district. District 23 covered only Southfield, she explained.

“I want to make sure that District 17 gets as much of the resources as possible from the county,” she said Tuesday after polls closed. “One of the areas that I truly want to spend a lot of time on is small businesses.”

Quarles said reaching out to elected officials in the new cities she represents will be among her first priorities, with a strong focus on economic development for residents and business owners.

The race was a close one for the six school board candidates vying for two open seats. In the end, it was Yolanda R. Smith and Nathaniel Lewis Jr., both incumbents, who were elected for the four-year terms.

Smith said raising the profile of Southfield schools, including the quality of education and image it maintains, will be among her top goals, along with advocating for adequate school funding. Lewis said he looks to create a “clean and safe environment” for local students and ensure quality educators in the system.

Southfield attorney Debra Nance was elected as a 46th District Court Judge, winning over fellow local attorney Bill Seikaly with 62 percent of the votes.

Shelia Johnson, a current 46th District Court Judge in Southfield, lost her race for a Michigan Supreme Court seat. Johnson will complete her second term in 2015 for the court that serves Southfield, Lathrup Village, Franklin Village, Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms and Southfield Township.

Rep. Gary Peters, Democrat and incumbent for District 9, was declared winner of the newly drawn District 14, and L. Brooks Patterson secured another term for Oakland County Commissioner.

Overall in Oakland County, County Clerk Bill Bullard said that despite the long lines throughout the area, they expected a 72 percent voter turnout, the same as during the 2008 general election.

Several Southfield voters reported lines lasting two to three hours at their precincts. One local said the wait at his precinct was three and a half hours long before 9 a.m. and he had to leave and come back to vote.

Another Southfield voter, in precinct 8, said he encountered the same dilemma with lines too long to wait in during the morning. Similarly, the line to vote after 3 p.m. at that polling location was much shorter, with his ballot cast within 15 minutes, he reported.

Quarles, a Southfield resident of nearly 30 years, said it took about 90 minute to get through her precinct, though everyone seemed calm, she said.

“No one lost their patience or anything. This election was just too important,” she said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Jessica Strachan at jstrachan@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1108.