Strong turnout, support for Republicans were big trends in Pointes

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published November 8, 2012

They might not have been the winners in Michigan, but Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra were big winners in most of the Pointes.

In Grosse Pointe Farms, Romney was an almost 2-1 favorite over the Democratic incumbent, President Barack Obama, earning 4,215 votes to 2,316 for Obama, according to unofficial election results available at press time. Hoekstra was favored over incumbent Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow by a vote of 3,872 to 2,481 in the Farms.

In the Macomb County portion of Grosse Pointe Shores, Romney was the favorite by 32 votes to Obama’s 10 votes. In the much larger Wayne County portion of the Shores, Romney won by a huge margin, getting 1,449 votes to Obama’s 427, according to unofficial vote tallies available at press time. Hoekstra — who appeared in the Shores, at a campaign fundraiser at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, shortly before the election — netted 1,359 votes in the Wayne portion and 31 in the Macomb part of the city, compared to 465 in Wayne and 11 in the Macomb section for Stabenow.

In Grosse Pointe City, the contest was a little closer, with Romney earning 1,976 votes to Obama’s 1,517, while Hoekstra was the favorite over Stabenow by 1,808 votes to 1,572.

The exception to the Republican trend was Grosse Pointe Park, where Obama bested Romney by a vote of 3,748 to 3,350, and Stabenow won over Hoekstra by 3,841 to 3,028 votes.

In one of the big local races, Grosse Pointe Shores residents showed strong support for City Council member Dan Schulte in the Republican’s failed bid to become a state representative in the new District 1, which includes Grosse Pointe Woods, Harper Woods and a large section of the east side of Detroit. Schulte got 1,508 votes in the Wayne County version of the Shores to Democratic candidate Brian Banks’ 250 votes. Banks has been dogged by controversy of late as his criminal past has come to light.

“I couldn’t have worked any harder,” Schulte said of his run for a seat in Lansing, noting his considerable door-to-door and other campaigning throughout the district.

“If you saw a (lawn) sign, I put it there,” he said after the election, referring to the large number of Schulte signs in front of homes in the mostly Democratic Detroit.

Democratic candidates might have been big winners in the major contests in the Park, but the city’s electorate voted in droves for one of their own, Republican Daniel Corrigan Grano — a candidate for the new state House District 2 and a member of the Park City Council. Grano bested Democratic state Rep. Alberta Tinsley Talabi by 3,553 votes to 2,843 votes. Green Party candidate and Park resident Hans Christopher Barbe earned 373 votes in his hometown, or 5.5 percent of the total, according to unofficial vote tallies.

In the City, Grano received 836 votes to 426 for Tinsley Talabi and 31 for Barbe. Grano did well in the Farms, too, with 4,269 votes to 1,658 for Tinsley Talabi and 186 for Barbe. Tinsley Talabi won the race with 28,990 votes to Grano’s 10,459 and Barbe’s 938.

Grosse Pointe Woods Republican Robert Sheehy, a candidate for Wayne County commissioner, District 1, got 3,736 votes in the Farms, compared to 2,248 for the Democratic incumbent Tim Killeen, who was handily re-elected by better than 70 percent of district voters. Killeen did well in the Park, with 3,653 votes compared to 2,937 for Sheehy. Sheehy was the winner in the City, with 1,729 votes to 1,484 for Killeen, and it was the same in the Shores, with Sheehy getting 1,341 votes to 385 for Killeen.

Killeen, who thanked supporters at a Grosse Pointe Democratic Club party after the election at Marge’s Bar in Grosse Pointe Park, said one of the issues he hopes to address in his fourth term on the commission is the retirement system, which he said is “grossly under-funded.” Being only about 50 percent funded, he said the county has to take money out of the general fund to make up the difference — money that could otherwise be used for the jail, clerk and other county services.

Although it’s past the deadline for county funding, Killeen said Wayne County is still planning on contributing a promised $70,000 toward a bike path through the Pointes; the project was slated to cost about $100,000 in a 2011 estimate. He said they were awaiting a draft resolution from the Wayne County Legal Department that would need to be approved by the Pointe city councils.

“That is also moving forward,” Killeen said of the bike path project, which has been in the works for some time now.

Turnout was heavy throughout the Pointes. During the evening of Nov. 6, Shores administrator Tom Krolczyk said it seemed like there were even more voters this year than for the 2008 presidential race. He praised the city’s residents for their high turnout at the polls.

“Being such a big election, with more issues, is getting more people to vote,” Krolczyk said. “That’s the way it’s always been (in the Shores). It’s great.”

There was a line all the way down the hall near the door at City Hall at 7 a.m., but Krolczyk said waits then were only about 15-18 minutes.

That may have had something to do with the fact that Krolcyzk said about half of Shores voters cast absentee ballots.

“We had a lot of absentees,” City Clerk Bruce Nichols confirmed.

George Heidt, a precinct co-chair at Farms City Hall, said turnout was high in that city as well, but the only waits were first thing in the morning, from roughly 7-8 a.m., when “it was body after body” in line. Like the Shores, voters usually only had to wait a few minutes to cast their ballots, because the city set up a number of extra booths to accommodate voters.

First-time voters have to cast their ballots at their home precinct, and he said that led to an interesting trend.

“We had a lot of college kids who came here (from their respective campuses) to vote,” Heidt said.

Christina Schlitt, the chair for Precinct 6 at Defer Elementary School in Grosse Pointe Park, said some voters experienced waits of roughly 10-15 minutes first-thing in the morning, “but people didn’t complain about the long wait.”

“We were very busy this morning,” Schlitt said around 7:30 p.m. Nov. 6. “It’s been steady, nonstop (all day), but it’s trickled down now.”

Arriving shortly before the polls closed, Park voter Sadie Bolos O’Neill was able to vote immediately.

“I was surprised,” she said. “I got in fast.”

Despite a long ballot — two pages, with candidates or proposals on each side — election workers said few were spoiled.

“These were very educated voters,” Schlitt said.