Voters in Royal Oak went to the polls Tuesday to choose a judge to serve them in the 44th District Court as well as decide on a public safety millage and a school district building and site sinking fund tax proposal. Voters also chose representatives to serve them on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners and in the Michigan House.
The races are in addition to the presidential contest and a slew of state ballot proposals and decisions on and county-level offices.
Royal Oak Election Day Live Blog
10:30 p.m. – At the Royal Oak Elks Lodge, Derek Meinecke celebrated with more than 100 supporters, including Judge Terence Brennan and retiring Judge Daniel Sawicki.
Of 24,542 votes cast in the the 44th District Court race for Sawicki's seat, 13,358 were for Meinecke and 11,049 were for Carlo Ginotti.
"For nearly a year there have been less than 10 days that I did not spend at least four hours walking our community to carry our message to the voters of Royal Oak," said Meinecke with wife Mandy and their three children by his side. (Valerie Meinecke noted her son lost 25 pounds from all that walking.)
Meinecke told supporters he is committed to working to strengthen the court and build the community, but the first thing on his to-do list is "picking up his signs and starting the process of thanking everyone."
An assistant Oakland County prosecutor, Meinecke said he'll begin wrapping up his cases at the prosecutor's office so there is a smooth transition.
"It's a great day for Derek. He has run a positive campaign. He should be so proud," said Sandy Wilkins, of Royal Oak.44th District Court Judge
Results Carlo Ginotti
11,049 Derek Meinecke
10:20 p.m. – Superintendent Shawn Lewis said he was incredibly grateful a building and site sinking fund millage to benefit Royal Oak Schools was approved by voters Tuesday. The 1.0-mill levy ($1 per $1,000 of taxable valuation) will take place for a 10-year period from July 2013-23.
“It was a grassroots effort. We didn’t have big sponsors. We didn’t recruit businesses to help us,” Lewis-Lakin said. “It was Royal Oak citizens who organized as the Friends of Royal Oak Schools rallying their neighbors and friends to support the school district.”
The superintendent said there is a list of projects on a waiting list that, thanks to voters, should be ready to roll in the summer.
“It’s exciting to have this revenue stream so we can begin work and not have to wait until there is a crisis,” he said.Local School District Proposal, Sinking Fund Millage Results Yes 18,156 No 13,448
10:08 p.m. – Royal Oak residents approved a 3.975-mill tax to support police, fire and emergency medical services in resounding fashion, with 67 percent of voters saying yes to the request.
With City Manager Don Johnson by his side, Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O'Donohue thanked supporters at Fifth Avenue for helping push the public safety millage through.
"I didn't know what voters would do today. There was a lot of anxiety," O'Donohue said. "I am very happy with the numbers. The margin of victory speaks for itself."
Of 32,247 votes cast in Royal Oak, 21,646 were in favor of the request and 10,601 were opposed.
"I think when voters have the facts they do the right thing," said City Commissioner Mike Fournier.
Of Royal Oak's police and firefighters, Fournier said they put their lives on the line for residents.
"They make sacrifices everyday and that includes taking pay cuts and other concessions. We can't forget that," he said.
Mayor Jim Ellison was ecstatic with the 2:1 margin of victory.
"In 2005, we tried to do this and we lost 2:1," Ellison said. "We listened and this time we met people's expectations. And, we will continue to do that. We don't want to screw this up."
O'Donohue said it will take a while to get the staffing to the right levels. The department is starting so low and it takes time to bring on new officers, but it will definitely be easier to recruit good officers now that the millage passed, he said.
"The police have been doing a good job," said City Manager Don Johnson. "They have been able to make arrests quickly in two murder cases - the headline crimes. But people are upset that smaller crimes sometimes are ignored because we don't have the staff. That now will change."City Proposal A, Public Safety Millage Results Yes 21,646 No 10,601
What happened at the polls
8 p.m. – Polls close. The wait begins.
7:30 p.m. – At the Royal Oak Farmers Market, Mary Beth Bustos said Election Day ran smoothly.
"I was very impressed how patient people were," she said, estimating 50-minute waits during peek voting times. "This is the most people we have seen in a long time."
3:12 p.m. – Election inspectors at Royal Oak Middle School report long lines and waits of 90 minutes, through the morning and lunch hour.
First-time voter Dylan Davids, 19, is voter number No. 1039 at 3:12 p.m.
2 p.m. – Mayor Jim Ellison is working the polls in support of Proposal A. Ellison is looking for nods and thumbs up to measure enthusiasm for the public safety millage.
"No one wants to pay for taxes," the mayor said. "I don't want to pay more taxes, but this is needed and I think people know that."
Ellison is confident the ballot measure will pass, but it will be close, he said.
11:50: a.m. – Checking in with Royal Oak Schools Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin today, he had this to say about the school district sinking fund tax proposal:
As this proposal was developed and then placed on the ballot, we have listened to community members.What we've heard has been support. We are hoping that the support translates into a positive outcome in voting. I want to encourage everyone to go to the end of their ballot and vote "Yes" on the school district building site and sinking fund proposal.
I have a lunch meeting, after which I will head to Addams Elementary School were I cast my ballot. As a Royal Oak resident and taxpayer, I am voting YES, as an investment in our students, our schools, our community - and, yes, the value of my home!
10:13 a.m. – 44th District Court candidate Derek Meinecke and Jay Dustan stopped at Emmanuel Bethel Church mid-morning to check in with poll worker Pam Saunders.
Dunstan, who is driving Meinecke around the city this morning said the pair had visited 14 precincts and his odometer had already logged 30 miles.
"It's so exciting. I am very grateful for all the people who got up early to work the polls this morning," Meinecke said.
Knocking on doors for months, Meinecke said Royal Oak voters have a history of getting it right when it comes to selecting judges.
9:50 a.m. – Terry Fraga was voter No. 10 at Royal Oak High School this morning. Showing up at 6:20 a.m., it took him just 15 minutes to get through the line - better than the 45 minute wait voters who showed up after 7 a.m. were reporting.
Greg Dildilian, campaign chair for Republican state representative candidate Mark Bliss, was holding a sign and passing out literature at the high school.
"We're hoping we have something to celebrate tonight," Dildilian said. Republicans plan to gather at the Emagine Royal Oak in the evening.
Valerie Meinecke, the mother of 44th District Court judge candidate Derek Meinecke, was also at the high school campaigning. And, Officer Tim Brown of the Royal Oak Police Department was talking to voters about the public safety ballot measure.
9:34 a.m. – At Addams Elementary, Bill and Dorothy Shaw greet voters. Shaw, a candidate for Oak County Commissioner, said polls were "very active" in Royal Oak and Berkley this morning.
Also spotted at Addams was Carlo Ginotti, a judge candidate for 44th District Court. Ginotti was campaigning with his son John, 14.
Of voting, Ginotti said, "It's been very busy. People have been very positive. I have heard no complaining about the long lines. People are all smiles."
Former Royal Oak Mayor Dennis Cowan was at Addams campaigning for Ginotti. Cowan just got back from travelling with Governor Mitt Romney in Ohio for two days.
"Voters in Ohio are under siege," Cowan said. "It's not even close to what voters are experiencing in Michigan."
Cowan said he is working the polls for Ginotti in the morning and will work as a poll challenger for the Republican party in the afternoon.
7:44 a.m. – The lines at Royal Oak Middle School were wrapped around the gymnasium and out the door at 7:12 a.m. Poll workers for judge candidates Carlo Ginotti and Derek Meinecke were in the parking lot talking to voters and Firefighter Mike Romano was there with a bright 'Vote Yes on Proposal A" sign. Romano is hoping voters will support the public safety millage.
"We have been going door to door talking to people," Romano said. "I think it's going to be close."
Unofficial Election Results44th District Court Judge
Results Carlo Ginotti
11,049 Derek Meinecke
Royal Oak Public Schools Board
Results Marty Cardamone
City Proposal A, Public Safety Millage Results Yes 21,646 No 10,601 Local School District Proposal, Sinking Fund Millage Results Yes 18,156 No 13,448
Oakland County Commissioner, 16th District
Results Tim Burns, Democrat
Mike Bosnic, Republican
Oakland County Commissioner, 19th District
Results Dave Woodward, Democrat
Bill Shaw, Republican
Oakland County Commissioner, 20th District
Results Gary R. McGillivray, Democrat
Antoine Delaforterie, Republican
State Representative, 26th District Results
Jim Townsend, Democrat26,095
Mark Bliss, Republican 15,504
James K. Young, Libertarian 1,636
For more election coverage, including results for the U.S. Congressional races, visit Michigan Election 2012 and Oakland County Elections 2012.