Royal Oak Tribune
High local voter turnout expected
Few contested local races, proposals in southeast Oakland
Absentee voter numbers in Royal Oak are double what they were in the last midterm election in 2018, likely presaging high or possibly record-breaking levels of local voter participation in the city and nearby communities.
Aside from the state proposals and races on Tuesday’s election ballot, Royal Oak has three millage proposals on its ballot, one of them a renewal for the Royal Oak Schools sinking fund.
The city is also asking voters to approve two new millages. One of them is for a 0.7mill tax to fund parks and the animal shelter, and the other is a 0.2-mill tax to fund senior services.
More voters are expected to see local city proposals in Royal Oak and other cities because of a predicted high turnout for state candidates and proposals, including the governor’s race.
“Compared to the last gubernatorial election in 2018, we have doubled the absentee ballots that were sent out in that election,” said Royal Oak City Clerk Melanie Halas.
In the state election four years ago, voter turnout in the city was just over 68 percent, Halas added.
“I expect a higher turnout for this election,” she said, and for voter precincts to be busy on election day.
The city has sent out more than 16,150 absentee ballots, and over 10,630 have been returned.
With the ever-growing sharp divide between Republicans and Democrats at the national and state levels, more voters have been casting ballots in elections.
However, it is unclear how great the impact will be on down ballot races and proposals in local communities.
There are no officially registered campaign groups against the three millage proposals in Royal Oak.
In Hazel Park, there are six candidates running for three open seats on the school board and three uncontested open seats on the city’s library board.
It appears those races have little to do with the reported large number of voters set to cast ballots in the city.
Hazel Park City Clerk Jim Finkley said city voter turnout in the 2018 gubernatorial
elections was 48 percent.
“Because nearly three times as many (absentee) ballots have been requested for the 2022 midterm election, when compared to 2018,” he said, “it would stand to reason that the turnout may end up being higher than it was four years ago.”
As of Friday, more than 2,100 absentee ballots had been sent to Hazel Park voters, and more than 1,350 of them had been returned.
“Both are by far the highest amounts ever in a midterm election in Hazel Park,” Finkley said.
Among local races in southeast Oakland County, the most controversial race is a recall election against Democratic incumbents in Royal Oak Township, which covers just over half of a square mile with 2,374 residents.
The recall is against township Supervisor Donna Squalls, township Clerk Gwendolyn Turner, and township board trustees Wanda Allen and Jeff Cushingberry.
Squalls faces challenges from two Independent candidates, as does Turner. Similarly, two Independent candidates are seeking to oust Allen and Cushingberry.
There is also a proposal on the township ballot to repeal the community’s ban on marijuana businesses.
The only other contested races in southeast Oakland County are among four candidates for three spots on Ferndale’s library board, and in Madison Heights, where five candidates are competing for three open seats on the Lamphere Schools board of education.