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Northville school board candidate sues Wayne County canvassers for tie-breaker

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

A candidate for the Northville school board has filed suit against a fellow candidate and the Wayne County Board of Canvassers after the board failed to hold a second draw following her tied result. 

Kimberly Campbell-Voytal filed suit in Wayne County Circuit Court Monday after Attorney General Dana Nessel's office declined to take up her case. Campbell-Voytal is asking the court to find that her case merits a second tie-breaking draw of lots with opponent James Mazurek. 

"Campbell-Voytal is entitled to the tie-breaking procedure" outlined in Michigan law, her filing states. "...and if she prevails she is entitled to the position on the school board wrongfully held by Mazurek."

Election officials have worked for two months to resolve a tied race for the Northville school board between candidates James Mazurek and Kimberly Campbell-Voytal.

Campbell-Voytal said her campaign was encouraged by the board to seek an answer in court after the board deadlocked on a resolution to break the tie. 

"There’s no malice in this," she said Monday. "It just seems like the system should work better for candidates.”

Campbell-Voytal's case stems back to the Nov. 3 election, when the board, during canvassing, adjusted the unofficial results upon further review so Campbell-Voytal went from a loss of one vote to Mazurek to a tie.  

Campbell-Voytal and Mazurek drew tie-breaking lots for the position and Mazurek won, prompting a request for a recount by Campbell-Voytal. 

The recount resulted in a gain of five votes for each candidate, bringing them to another tie of 7,681 votes each. 

Wayne County Corporate Counsel Janet Anderson-Davis advised the board that a second draw by lot would be required. But the Michigan Bureau of Elections said it would not recommend a redraw if it were handling a similar situation with a statewide race. 

The board on Dec. 22 deadlocked 2-2 along party lines regarding whether a second draw would be held as opposed to basing the results on the first drawing of lots. The board also declined to second a motion that would have accepted the original drawing of lots. 

The meeting ended with some arguing that Mazurek was the winner and others arguing no one had won the position absent a second draw. 

The school board swore in Mazurek on Dec. 31 and he was present last Tuesday at his first meeting. 

On Thursday, Nessel's office declined to go to court on behalf of Campbell-Voytal but noted she was free "to pursue whatever remedies may be available under the applicable law."