All women on Oxford Village Council, Fire Dept. millage passes
By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
Oxford and Addison saw huge turnout, both absentee and in-person, for the Nov. 3, 2020 general election. National news outlets have projected Joe Biden the winner of the presidential election. There were many other races happening locally too.
Here’s how candidates did down ballot. The numbers that follow are from the Oakland County Clerk’s Unofficial Results, and Oxford Township and Addison Township.
Oxford Township and Village
Of the 17,788 registered voters in Oxford Township and Village, a total of 13,659 (or 76.79 percent) cast a ballot in the Nov. 3 election. Voter registrations saw an increase of 818 from 16,970 registered voters in the Aug. 4 election.
Turnout was much higher than the Aug. 4 and March 10 primary elections earlier this year. In August, 6,146 (or 36.22 percent) cast a ballot, while 5,516 (or 33.07 percent) out of 16,678 registered voters cast a ballot in March. Voter turnout was also higher than 2016 when a total of 11,211 (or 72.3 percent) of 15,503 registered voters participated in the presidential election.
Absentee ballots accounted for 8,214 (or 60.14 percent) of the 13,659 ballots cast. 5,445 voted in person at the polls on Election Day. The clerk’s office issued 8,417 requested absentee ballots while 8,214 were returned (97.59 percent).
For comparison, 3,985 absentee ballots were counted in August (64.84 percent of total ballots cast), while 2,687 (48.71 percent) were counted in March.
Absentee ballots generally tracked in-person party affiliation. 2,608 of Oxford’s Nov. 4 absentee ballots were straight-ticket Republican, while 1,814 absentee ballots were straight-ticket Democrat.
In Oxford Township, all candidates ran unopposed. No Democratic candidates challenged the Republicans running for the Board of Trustees.
Trustee Jack Curtis received 9,577 votes for Township Supervisor. He is switching places with William “Bill” Dunn, who has served as supervisor since 1999. Dunn will continue to sit on the board as a trustee.
“Thank you Oxford voters for electing me to the Township Supervisor position,” Curtis wrote in a Facebook post. “I will continue to work for our community as I have for the past 15 years!” Curtis was elected a trustee in 2012. Prior to that, he was appointed to the township planning commission in 2005. He has lived in the community for 46 years.
Clerk Curtis Wright was re-elected with 9,524 votes. Treasurer Joseph Ferrari was also re-elected with 9,575 votes, after winning an August primary race.
Voters could vote for all four trustees: Rod Charles (8,365 votes), William Dunn (8,431), Jonathan Nold (8,010), and Margaret Payne (8,458).
For the Parks and Recreation Commission, five candidates ran for five seats: Austin Brantley (7,973), Phil Castonia (7,894), Timothy Kalohn (7,814), Theresa Myer (8,167) and Ronald Roop II (8,309). Park commissioners have four-year terms.
For the Oxford Public Library Board of Directors, six candidates ran for six seats: DuAnne Cook (4,302), Julie Fracker (4,698), Kathleen Hoeflein (4,308), Barbara Krigel (4,042), Anthony Rizzo (4,706) and Lynn Royster (4,367). Library board seats carry four-year terms.
For the Oxford Community Schools Board of Education, three candidates ran for three seats: Daniel D’Alessandro (5,792), Thomas Donnelly (5,616) and Heather Shafer (6,117). School board seats carry four-year terms.
For Oxford Village Council, Lori Bourgeau (661) and Ashley Ross (639) beat Justin Willcock (431) and incumbent David Bailey (393). The village council is non-partisan.
Ashley Ross wrote on her campaign’s Facebook page, “Thank you everyone for supporting me through the election—from my family walking around town with me many weekends to my donors near and far and of course all the voters! This wouldn’t have been possible without you.”Justin Willcock accepted his defeat graciously. “Congratulations to Ashley and Lori for winning the election!” he wrote in a statement. “I know the two are joining a great team of leaders that will represent The Village at its best! A huge thank you to all of those who supported and voted for me! I will continue to serve the community on the DDA board and through my church! Thank you everyone!”
Willcock also recognized fellow candidate David Bailey. “I would like to take this time to give my gratitude to Mr. David Bailey. For he and I both lost this election to two fine candidates. Mr. Bailey has spent many years serving the Village Council board. You may not have always agreed with him, but he deserves nothing but gratitude and respect for his service. . .”
Bailey served on council from 2001-2007, 2009-2014, and again since 2016 as president pro tem. He briefly served as village president from March to November 2014.
Current councilmember Allison Kemp ran unopposed for a partial, two-year term expiring November 14, 2022. She received 928 votes. Kemp was appointed to the council in January 2019.
Along with sitting council members Maureen Helmuth and Kelsey Cooke, this makes an all-women council for Oxford Village.
“It is a privilege to be a part of an all female council,” Ashley Ross said. “My work in equity, especially in gender equity, makes this moment even more special for me.” Her career has centered in non-profits, museums, social justice, and evaluation. She is on the steering committee for Gender Equity in Museums, a national grassroots organization.
“While we are all female, our opinions vary, which will make for rich discussion, thoughtful discourse, and a balanced consensus for residents. We all come from different backgrounds, different fields of work and study, and have different life experiences. I am certain this Council will make informed decisions to lead the Village of Oxford into the next decade.”
Former village president Joe Frost wrote in a comment, “Congratulations! And, an all women council! That’s awesome!”
Oxford Fire Department’s millage passed by a large margin, with 8,230 voting “yes” to 4,553 voting “no.”
The four-year, 4.5-mill property tax proposal is a renewal of the 3.3472 mills that was set to expire in December, with an additional mill on top of that. One mill equates to $1 for every $1,000 of a property’s taxable value, meaning this proposal is $4.50 for every $1,000.
“What this one-mill increase would allow us to do is hire four additional shift members and a full-time fire inspector,” Fire Chief Pete Scholz explained ahead of the election. “Also, our trucks are becoming an aging fleet. Most of our fleet was purchased in 2002, except for a tanker we got in 1996, and an engine we got in 1996. It would be my intention to replace the engine in 2021 and the tanker in 2023 with this money.”
The millage will begin with this December’s tax levy and end with the December 2023 levy. It is expected to raise an estimated $4.28 million for the department.
Addison Township and Leonard Village
Of 5,246 registered voters in Addison Township, 4,265 cast a vote – an impressive 81.3 percent turnout, compared to 75.5 percent for all of Oakland County. 2,525 voted absentee or 59.2 percent of ballots cast.
Turnout was about twice as high as the primary elections earlier this year when 2,107 total ballots were cast in the August election and 1,914 in March. In 2016, Addison saw 3,707 (or 77.1 percent) of 4,808 registered voters cast a ballot in the general election.
Supervisor Bruce Pearson, Clerk Pauline Bennett and Treasurer Lori Fisher, all Republicans, all ran unopposed for re-election. Bruce Pearson received 3,196 votes, Pauline Bennett received 3,253 and Lori Fisher had 3,238.
Four Republicans ran for four trustee seats: Ed Brakefield (2,804), Karen Geibel (2,815), Linda Gierak (2,778) and Charles Sargent (2,745).
In a competitive, non-partisan race for the Addison Township Library Board, eight ran for six seats. Mary Frost (1,214), Jennie Eller (1,112), James Elsarelli (1,000), Kara King (953), Marilyn Szost (910) and James Baldiga (866) received enough votes to secure seats, while Charles Meininger (836) and Sarah Spigno (780) fell just short. Jennie Eller and Kara King were newly elected. James Baldiga, James Elsarelli, Mary Frost, and Marilyn Szost were re-elected.
In Leonard Village, incumbent president Michael McDonald (110) beat Chris Rayner (95) by a margin of 15 votes. McDonald was first elected in 2008.
Judith Verse ran unopposed for village treasurer and received 155 votes.
Four ran for two seats on the village board of trustees. Incumbents Chalrene Sutherby (113) and Alexander Kennedy (82) beat challengers Mark Steffler (75) and Daniel Webster (48).
At the county level, Republican incumbent Michael Spisz beat Democrat Michelle McClellan (both Oxford residents) for County Commissioner Third District (which includes Oxford, Addison, Oakland and Brandon). Spisz garnered 24,845 votes (66.34 percent) while McClellan had 12,567 (33.55 percent). Spisz held the majority of votes in each precinct.
Addison resident Joe Kent ran a tough race as a Republican for Oakland County Treasurer against Democrat Robert Wittenberg of Huntington Woods. Kent received 332,533 (46.16 percent) votes while Wittenberg had 387,061 (53.73 percent), a margin of 54,528 votes.
“After a very long night of watching the returns and the vote tally go up and down, I would like to congratulate Robert Wittenberg on being Treasurer-Elect of Oakland County,” Kent said in a statement. “I wish him and his new staff all the best in helping Oakland County through the challenging times that we are in.
“Thank you to all those who voted yesterday at the polls as well as all those who voted by absentee. Oakland County had a record turnout! To my family, friends, and supporters, I want to say the sincerest of thanks. . . I’m proud of the positive campaign that I ran and I do appreciate the positive campaign that my opponent ran as well. Oakland County remains the best county to call home and to work in. I hope that never changes.”
Wittenberg also thanked Kent “for the positive campaign he ran.”
For 46th District State Representative (Oxford, Addison, Oakland, Orion and Brandon), Oxford Democrat Jody LaMacchia ran against Republican incumbent John Reilly of Oakland Township. Reilly won with 36,258 votes (61.93 percent) while LaMacchia scored 22,216 (37.95 percent). Reilly notably held the majority in all precincts, including Oxford.
“Although the result wasn’t what I’d hoped for, I am overwhelmed by the support and friendship our community has shown me and our campaign,” LaMacchia wrote in a statement. “I loved meeting you on the phone and in person, hearing your stories and helping when I could. If we had the opportunity to talk and you see me out and about, please say hi! I believe we need to continue to connect and come together. I believe it is important for us to keep viewing each other as neighbors and fellow Americans.
“I’m not going anywhere. I will continue to show up. You will see me at our small businesses, at the Elks and the American Legion, and at local events. Give me a shout. Know that your support has buoyed our campaign and strengthened our resolve to never ever give up. To the young members of our team, you have inspired me more than you know. Keep going. You all the have passion and compassion to make a difference in this world and our future is counting on you!”
Reilly wrote in his own statement, “I would like to wish the best of luck in the future to my opponent and her team, as well as congratulating them on all of their hard work. It is clear that all sides of the ballot in the 46th House District love, cherish, and want to see the best for their neighbors.”