At Precincts No. 1 and No. 2 at Mason Elementary School in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michelle Joyner, of Detroit, and Bernard Parker III, of West Bloomfield, endorse Grosse Pointe Public School System Board of Education candidate Cynthia Douglas. Douglas, however, did not receive enough votes to be elected Nov. 3.

At Precincts No. 1 and No. 2 at Mason Elementary School in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michelle Joyner, of Detroit, and Bernard Parker III, of West Bloomfield, endorse Grosse Pointe Public School System Board of Education candidate Cynthia Douglas. Douglas, however, did not receive enough votes to be elected Nov. 3.

Photo by Maria Allard


Grosse Pointe school board election brings in new faces

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published November 4, 2020

 Grosse Pointe Woods residents Laure Peabody, left, and Anna Kociba were at Precincts No. 1 and No. 2 at Mason Elementary School in Grosse Pointe Woods Nov. 3 to support Grosse Pointe Public School System Board of Education candidates Joseph Herd, Colleen Worden, George Bailey and Kathleen Abke. They said they also supported Cynthia Douglas.

Grosse Pointe Woods residents Laure Peabody, left, and Anna Kociba were at Precincts No. 1 and No. 2 at Mason Elementary School in Grosse Pointe Woods Nov. 3 to support Grosse Pointe Public School System Board of Education candidates Joseph Herd, Colleen Worden, George Bailey and Kathleen Abke. They said they also supported Cynthia Douglas.

Photo by Maria Allard

 On Election Day Nov. 3, resident Cindy Nagel was at Brownell Middle School’s Precinct No. 5 in Grosse Pointe Farms to support Ahmed Ismail, Lisa Papas, Lauren Nowicki, Cindy Pangborn and John Steininger.

On Election Day Nov. 3, resident Cindy Nagel was at Brownell Middle School’s Precinct No. 5 in Grosse Pointe Farms to support Ahmed Ismail, Lisa Papas, Lauren Nowicki, Cindy Pangborn and John Steininger.

Photo by Maria Allard

GROSSE POINTES — The past several weeks have been strained in the Grosse Pointes as 17 candidates vied for a seat on the Grosse Pointe Public School System Board of Education.

Five seats were open, and on Nov. 3 three newcomers, a former board member and an appointed board member were elected to the school board in a controversial race. Part of the tension relates to the reconfiguration of the district that included closing Trombly and Poupard elementary schools and moving the fifth grade students to the middle school this year. The COVID-19 pandemic and some parents wanting schools to open also added to the tension.

Fifteen candidates filed to run for four four-year terms; however, Sherry Betcher withdrew from the race, bringing the number to 14. Three candidates ran for one partial term ending Dec. 31, 2022.

According to the unofficial results from the Wayne County Clerk’s Office, Ahmed Ismail was the top vote-getter with 11,496 votes. Ismail has served on the board in the past: from 2004 to 2009 and 2014 to 2018. Also elected to four-year terms were challengers Colleen Worden with 10,945 votes, Lisa Papas with 9,972 and David Brumbaugh with 9,844.

Failing to get enough votes to win a spot on the board were Lauren Nowicki, 9,552 votes; incumbent Kathleen Abke, 9,470 votes; incumbent Cindy Pangborn, 9,237 votes; Cynthia Douglas, 8,601 votes; George Bailey, 6,334 votes; Shareef Simaika, 4,718 votes; Christopher D’Angelo, 4,273 votes; James Paul Joseph, 4,218 votes; Jennifer Goossen, 2,632 votes; and Keersten Colleen Kassab, 2,064 votes. Betcher received 1,438 votes. 

Joseph Herd, who was appointed to the school board in January when then-president Brian Summerfield stepped down, won the partial term with 11,132 votes. He defeated John Steininger, who finished with 9,455 votes, and Theresa Vogler, who finished with 6,066 votes. 

Current board members Christopher Profeta and Judy Gafa did not file to run for reelection. Profeta, first elected in 2016, served one term. Gafa was first elected to the school board in 2008 and served three consecutive four-year terms.

On Election Day, many supporters were at various precincts to support their candidates. At Brownell Middle School’s Precinct No. 5 in Grosse Pointe Farms, resident Shirley Nagel was on-site supporting Ismail, Papas, Nowicki, Pangborn and Steininger.

“I’ve known Cindy a long time,” Nagel said. “I like people who have kids in the schools. They have an investment in the schools. These are the people that keep our schools going and our neighborhood strong.”

At Precincts No. 1 and No. 2 at Mason Elementary School in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michelle Joyner, of Detroit, and Bernard Parker III, of West Bloomfield, held up signs to elect Douglas to the school board. Although not residents of the district, they still wanted to show their support. 

After making the rounds at different precincts throughout the day, Douglas stopped by Mason in the early evening. She said people “were excited and optimistic” for Election Day. Douglas, president of the Grosse Pointes-Harper Woods NAACP, said she would have been “overwhelmed” if elected, but if not elected, “It’s OK.”

“My work will continue,” she said. “I was doing it before I decided to run for school board. This community still needs to talk about equity, diversity and where improvements can be made. My hat’s off to the current board because they’ve had to make a lot of difficult decisions.”

Grosse Pointe Woods residents Anna Kociba and Laure Peabody also came to Mason to support candidates Douglas, Herd, Worden, Bailey and Abke.

“We want to maintain the level of professionalism of these candidates,” Kociba said. 

Both Peabody and Kociba felt the contentiousness of the race. Kociba said she believed it would draw more people to the polls, but “I think it leaves a bad taste in the community. It didn’t make me proud of my community.”

“This has been a traumatic year and parents feel it,” Peabody said. “I’m just hoping some of the stuff on social media doesn’t translate into votes and the mean, nasty comments are not a reflection of the community.”

At press time, the votes were still being counted for the Wayne RESA Regional Enhancement Millage Renewal Proposal, the District 1 state representative race and the 14th District U.S. representative race.