The ballot beyond Obama

Published October 28, 2008

The University Board of Regents

In this year’s race for the Board of Regents, two Democrats and two Republicans are vying for two seats.

On the Democratic side, Larry Deitch, an incumbent seeking his third term, and Denise Ilitch, a lawyer and magazine publisher best known for her family’s ownership of the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings and Little Caesar’s pizza, will be on the November ballot.

For the Republicans, John LaFond, a retired engineer for Ford Motor Company, and Susan Brown, an interior designer who sits on University boards for the Museum of Art and the Ford School of Public Policy, round out the list of Regent candidates.

Rebecca McGowan, a two-term Democratic incumbent who would have been up for re-election along with Deitch, chose not to seek a third term.
While the candidates’ platforms vary some, each focuses largely on a key issue — the University’s finances.

Brown has vowed never to vote for a tuition increase, while LaFond wants to curb the University’s spending on energy, insurance and salaries.

Ilitch plans to bring in more revenue through opportunities involving new technology and the University’s athletics teams. Deitch’s focus is affordability and access to financial aid for all University students.
Regents are elected to eight-year terms. Regents are not subject to term limits.
—Lindy Stevens

Michigan Supreme Court

Straight ticket voters will hit a road bump when they come to the judicial section of the ballot, which lists three candidates for a seat on the Michigan Supreme Court.

Justice Cliff Taylor, who has been the court’s chief justice since 2005, is running for his second eight-year term against Diane Hathaway, of the Wayne County Circuit Court, Robert W. Roddis, who is backed by the Libertarian Party.

In accordance with Michigan law, the candidates’ names won’t be marked with a letter representing their political party. But it is a traditional Republican-Democrat race, with Hathaway, a Democrat from Grosse Pointe who has been a Wayne County Circuit Judge since 1993, trying to unseat Taylor, whom former Republican Gov. John Engler appointed in 1997 to replace Supreme Court Justice Dorothy Comstock when she retired. Both Hathaway and Taylor were nominated by their parties.

Of the seven justices on the Michigan Supreme Court, five are Republican.

Hathaway attacks Taylor for accepting donations from insurance companies and serving on the court with a partisan agenda.

Taylor has received endorsements from several Michigan newspapers — including the conservative Detroit News and the liberal-leaning Detroit Free Press. However, the Freep’s double-edged endorsement relays what many liberals feel about the election: “Taylor is enough of a problem on the high court to warrant endorsing nearly anyone as an alternative.”

The editorial goes onto say: “Despite a solid record on the Circuit Court, Hathaway, 54, demonstrates no better grasp of the role of high court justice than Taylor, and can't even articulate a judicial philosophy that she'd bring to the court.”
—Jessica Vosgerchian

15th District Court Judge

A seat on Ann Arbor’s 15th District Court Judge is up for election for the first time since 1999, when Judge Ann Mattson took the bench.
Eric Gutenberg, first assistant prosecuting attorney for Washtenaw County, and Chris Easthope, Ann Arbor City Council member, are vying for the position.

Gutenberg, who earned his bachelors degree from the University in 1986, has practiced in the 14th and 15th District Courts since 1989, serving as assistant prosecuting attorney. He was appointed to his current position in 1998, supervising the Sex Crimes Unit.

In 2003, Gutenberg was promoted to first assistant of the felony division, where he manages attorneys who handle preliminary examinations in the district and circuit courts.

Easthope has represented the Ann Arbor City Council 5th Ward with Mike Anglin (D-Ward 5) since 2000, serving on the Ann Arbor Public Schools Education Foundation Board and the Greenbelt Advisory Commission.
As a full-time private practice trial court attorney, Easthope owns and manages a law practice in downtown Ann Arbor.

The 15th District Court handles misdemeanor criminal cases, preliminary hearings for felonies, landlord-tenant disputes and small claims cases.
¬—Trevor Calero

State representatives

Stick to CNN’s “Political Ticker” if you like drama with your politics — Washtenaw County’s state representative election is likely to be low key.

In Michigan, state representatives are elected in even-numbered years and can serve up to three two-year terms.
In each of the four districts in the county, Democratic incumbents are running to keep their seats in an area that is considered a Democratic stronghold.

Rep. Rebekah Warren (D–Ann Arbor) is running for her second term in the 53rd district against Republican Christina Brewton and Green Party candidate Matt Erard.

The 52nd district, which includes part of North Campus, has Rep. Pam Byrnes (D–Chelsea) seeking a third term against Republican Eric Lielbriedis and Libertarian John Boyle.

Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith (D–Ypsilanti), a former state senator, is running against Republican Tom Banks and Libertarian David Raaflaub for a third term representing the 54th district.

With the exception of Smith, the county’s incumbent state representatives ran unopposed in the primary election. Smith beat Edison Hubert, who got 24 percent of the vote in the August race.
Lonnie Scott, an aide to Smith, said the representative is considering a bid for governor in 2010 after Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s last term is up.

In the 55th district, Rep. Kathy Angerer (D–Dundee) is running for her third term against Republican Frank Moynihan. Four years ago, Angerer defeated Republican incumbent Matt Milosh by a margin in the hundreds.
—Caitlin Schneider