May 5, 2009 at 11:27 am

Detroiters vote for mayor today

Cockrel, Bing contest could be decided by under 15% of voters

Detroit --Once again, big stakes and a low turnout are expected today for the city's mayoral election.

City officials predict as few as 15 percent but no more than 20 percent of Detroit's 626,000 registered voters will decide the election between Mayor Kenneth Cockrel Jr. and businessman Dave Bing. In the Feb. 24 primary, 15 percent voted.

"It is a little difficult for all of us ... but it is so important," City Clerk Janice Winfrey said. She blamed turnout on politics fatigue from the yearlong scandal last year involving former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and the four elections this year to succeed him.

Ava Tinsley, who lives in the Boston-Edison neighborhood, is among the 35,000 residents who picked up absentee ballots. She has returned hers, but said many residents aren't tuned in.

"This is the time to have your voice in our democracy," she said. "People are viewing this as only temporary for a few more months. ... They are getting ready for the fall election to come out."

Regularly scheduled primary and general elections for the four-year mayor and City Council terms are Aug. 4 and Nov. 3, respectively.

Pollster Bernie Porn of EPIC-MRA blamed election overload and the candidates themselves for depressing interest in the race. "People are just underwhelmed by their choices," he said.

Voters also will vote on a proposal to begin the long process of rewriting the city charter.

Elsewhere in Metro Detroit, voters will weigh tax proposals in Bloomfield Hills, Clawson, Novi, Redford Union School, Romulus, Hartland, Fowlerville, Unadilla Township, Utica Community School and East Detroit Public Schools. In Ecorse, voters will decide whether to extend the terms of elected officials.