Macomb County voters favor school, safety measures

Macomb County voters Tuesday approved a number of school and public safety ballot initiatives, but not all of the proposals found favor at the polls. 

In Roseville, voters supported a plan to place police and firefighters into a separate retirement system under state law, while Eastpointe voters rejected a proposal to change the qualifications for city manager.

Unofficial, final results showed 52.2% of Eastpointe voters opposed the proposed charter amendment to eliminate a requirement that a city manager have at least a year of experience as a municipal manager or assistant manager to qualify for the position. 

It's something that 15-year resident Avis Knight voted against. 

"This is a big job," said Knight, 50, a global buyer for General Motors. "That job should have some great experience, at least five years of experience."

But Meghan Carbary voted in support of the change, which she believes makes sense.

Voters cast their ballots at Forest Park Elementary School in Eastpointe., November 5, 2019.

"A lot of things about the way things run really deserve a change because there's a lot of people that might feel like 'oh, I'm not qualified. I won't try,' but this may be their calling," said Carbary, a writer, after casting her ballot at Eastpointe High School. "They may be really fit to serve in public office and without that limitation standing in their way, we may be able to get some even better candidates here."

The city on Tuesday also made state history when it used "ranked-choice voting" for two seats on city council. 

Officials in Eastpointe agreed to the unusual election method to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Justice Department just before President Barack Obama left office in 2017.

The federal government claimed white voters acting as a bloc had historically diluted the voting power of black residents in citywide council races. 

Due to the nature of the ranked voting, the results were not available late Tuesday.

"I don't really know if it's going to be helpful or not," said Eastpointe resident Marc Weaver, 49. "I'm kind of waiting to see."

Roseville voters approved two proposals tied to an initiative to separate the public safety employees from the regular municipal pension system that would provide more protection for the first responders in an economic downturn.

The first removes police and fire employees from the current municipal pension plan. The other establishes a separate pension under the state law, officials said.

Both measures prevailed, with unofficial results showing more than 60% of voters supporting each.

Currently, 49 municipalities in the state take advantage of the pension allowed under an 82-year-old provision of state law, Public Act 345.

In Washington Township, unofficial results showed 78.1% of voters rejected a measure to renew a previously approved millage of 0.75 mills and add a new millage of 0.25 mills. The tax increase would have started in 2020 and ended in 2039 to launch a recreation/community center and operate a parks and recreation program, according to the ballot language.

If the millage passed, the township planned to finalize buying the Total Sports Park and "begin transforming the facility into a community center with multiple sports and non-sport activities for people of all ages," according to its website.

Sonny Eplin, 63, of Eastpointe prepares to insert his ballot into the tabulator after voting at Forest Park Elementary School Tuesday.

Other Macomb County issues

Sterling Heights: A 2.45-mill, 10-year renewal, with 1.65 mills for police and fire protection and 0.8 mill for street improvements, won the support of nearly 75% of residents, according to unofficial results. 

Eastpointe Community Schools: A 3-mill, 10-year sinking fund for school building construction and repair prevailed with 51.4% of the vote, based on unofficial results posted early Wednesday. 

Fitzgerald Public Schools: 19.5-mill, 10-year operating renewal, plus a 1.4205-mill, seven-year sinking fund renewal, both had around 60% support from voters based on unofficial tabulations. 

Van Dyke Public Schools: A 21-mill, 20-year operating replacement was coming out ahead according to unofficial results, with 57.5% of voters voting yes.

Romeo Community Schools: 1.25-mill, five-year sinking fund renewal, plus a 19.5-mill, three-year operating restoration both gained approval, according to unofficial results.

With all 13 precincts reporting, the sinking fund had 55.6% support, and the operating restoration had 56.1% support.

In Eastpointe, Council member Monique Owens prevailed over four other candidates in the mayoral race with 32.5% of the vote, according to unofficial results.

In Mount Clemens, City Commissioner Laura Kropp defeated Mayor Barb Dempsey, with unofficial results showing Kropp had earned 49.9% of the vote to Dempsey's 43.6%.

In New Baltimore, with 54.3% of the vote, incumbent Mayor John Dupray defeated former New Baltimore City Council member Ken Butler, according to unofficial results. 

In Memphis, Councilman Kurt Marter won the race to succeed Eric Schneider as mayor with 65.2% of the vote, according to unofficial results.

Associated Press and Gregg Krupa contributed.