Birmingham commission seat hinges on write-in count
Birmingham — The votes are in but not all counted in the Birmingham City Commission race.
The Oakland County Board of Canvassers is working to validate 2,135 write-in ballots cast in Tuesday’s election, which may change one of the unofficial victors in the contest for four city commission seats.
According to final unofficial results, Incumbent Patty Bordman, the city's mayor, received 1,665 votes or 10.6% of the 15,600 votes split among eight candidates, good for the fourth open seat. Or was it?
At issue is whether more votes were cast for Pierre Boutros, an incumbent city commissioner and mayor pro-tem who ran as a write-in candidate after he was disqualified from appearing on the ballot earlier this year. Boutros' name was removed because he failed to file an amended campaign finance report, as required by state law.
There were 2,135 write-in votes cast Tuesday, representing 13.6% of the total and Boutros — the only person to register as a qualified write-in candidate — is presumed to have received most if not all of those votes.
Oakland County election officials and Birmingham City Manager Joe Valentine did not return calls on the matter. Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown was also unavailable for comment Wednesday.
Validation checking can take several days since each ballot has to be inspected. A spokesperson for Boutros said he had spoken with county vote counters but they have not provided a firm timeline of the validation process.
“I’m cautiously optimistic about the outcome of the election, and I look forward to the completion of the validation process,” Boutros said in a statement. “Regardless of the outcome, I’m humbled by the support I received from the residents of Birmingham and I hope to continue to be able to serve them for the next four years.”
Brad Host led seven commission candidates on the ballot with 2,739 votes. Therese Longe collected 2,668 votes and Clinton Baller, 2,147. All three appear safe regardless of where write-in votes land.
"I am grateful and gratified," said Baller. "The powerful rejection of two incumbents, including the mayor, was a repudiation by voters of an overbearing style of leadership that has taken hold here. My highest priority is to help change that culture. Our management is efficient, but it must also be respectful, honest, transparent and inclusive."
Rounding out the commissioner race were incumbent Carroll DeWeese, 1,585; and newcomers Jack German, 1,350, and Matt Wilde, 1,311.