Voters in Farmington Hills cast ballots for the City Council on Tuesday, returning old hands Ken Massey and Randy Bruce, and electing newcomer Richard Lerner.
The returns for the school board elections in Farmington, Farmington Hills and one precinct in West Bloomfield show voters have returned incumbents Karen Bolsen and Howard Wallach, but the narrow margin in the race for a 4-year seat may trigger a recount between Murray Kahn and David Sampson.
After West Bloomfield's precinct 9 reported in Tuesday night, Kahn was leading Sampson by a mere 21 votes, by Farmington-Farmington Hills Patch's unofficial count. West Bloomfield Patch editor Tim Rath reported from West Bloomfield Township Hall late Tuesday that Sampson had already contacted the township clerk's office to find out how to file for a recount.
In a statement released Wednesday, Kahn said, "I look forward to working in partnership with the community to restore excellence in education; transparency and openness in the conduct of the district; and respect for families, teachers, and taxpayers. I will fulfill my pledge to objectively consider the policies and issues that come before the board to promote the best interests of the students.”
Kahn also expressed appreciation for the contributions of Dr. Irving Ginsberg, who placed third in the 6-year race: “Irving was the voice of courage and intellectual honesty to elevate the issues of importance to this district. His passion for educational excellence inspired me personally, and should serve as an example to all who care about our children and public education.”
Both the 1.7 public safety millage in Farmington Hills, and the request for a millage renewal in both cities, passed by wide margins.
All vote totals are unofficial pending certification by the Oakland County Clerk's office.
In the Hills city council race, Massey came in with the most votes, 6,693, to win his third term on the council. He said the voters have liked what they've seen so far.
"They got the message about what we were trying to do," he said. "They like the initiatives we've taken and the programs we've put in place."
Massey singled out his efforts to require high school seniors to learn CPR, the Suicide Awareness Task Force, and the council's drive to keep taxes low. He also said he has worked hard, and will continue to work hard, to bring more jobs to the city.
Lerner was elected to his first term with 6,129 votes. He said he wasn't sure what put his candidacy over the top, but said he ran on a platform of keeping taxes stable, while working to make city government more efficient. As reflected in the positive votes for the public safety and library millages, he said, the residents of Farmington Hills will step up to the plate for what matters to them.
"People in Farmington Hills have always been willing to pay for the services they value. It's up to us to deliver them with good bang for the buck," Lerner said.
Bruce came in third with 5,946 votes to win a third term on the council. He said he's always tried to work hard, be honest about what he wants to do and follow up on the commitments he's made.
"We've tried to be fiscally responsible and look for ways to save money on services," Bruce said. "We don't spend money foolishly, we're very transparent and our budgets win awards from our auditors."
He said residents understand that, and know there aren't many cuts left to be made, which is why they handily approved the two millages on the ballot. Barry Brickner ran unopposed for mayor.
Farmington Board of Education incumbents Wallach and Bolsen were returned to office by fairly wide margins over challengers Irving Ginsberg, Angie Smith and . Bolsen put great stock in her campaign and thanked her committee and volunteers for their hard work. She said she was ready to get back to her own hard work at the district.
"We have to work to make sure every student achieves to their potential," she said. "We have a balanced budget that focuses on the classroom and we're going to work to provide a world-class education for all students."
Wallach also expressed gratitude to his supporters and the community for returning him to office. "I'm going to continue to focus on student achievement," he said. "That's always been my priority ... I'm appreciative of every vote I got, and I'm going to continue to do my best."
George Gurrola ran unopposed to fill a one-year partial term.
Both Farmington Hills and Farmington residents approved the library millage. The vote in Farmington was 1,855-319 in favor. The vote in Farmington Hills was even more overwhelming, 10,778-2,723. The millage request was for .58 mills over 20 years and will generate $5.2 million in the first year of collection, 2013. Funds will be used for general operations.
Farmington Hills residents approved the public safety millage by a more than two-to-one margin (9,513 to 4,087). The millage, 1.7 mills over 10 years, will raise $2.1 million in the first year of collection, 2013. Officials have said the funds will help maintain the current level of service in both the fire and police departments.