Nov. 16 2011 12:00 AM

Where the chips fell and what’s to come with a new member on City Council


Absentee and 3rd Ward voters still like
Carol Wood and don’t like the millage increase; a vast majority (90
percent) of absentee voters are over 60; more women showed up to vote
than men; and voting matters most to those born before 1951.

These are just a few observations of unofficial Lansing results from last week’s election.

City Clerk Chris Swope’s analysis of the
election showed that more females voted than males (55 percent to 45
percent) and those aged 60 years and older had the highest turnout of
any age group. Baby boomers also represented 90 percent of all absentee
voters, a group that voted against the millage proposal; in support of
giving the city permission to sell off a portion of Red Cedar Golf
Course; and for Council candidates A’Lynne Robinson, Jody Washington,
Carol Wood and Tom Stewart. (Even though Stewart placed fourth in the
at-large contest, he won the second-most amount of absentee votes
behind Wood.)

As for ballot proposals, the charter
revision question was defeated in every precinct and among the majority
of absentee voters, while absentee voters and every precinct approved
the proposal to give the city permission to sell 12.68 acres of Red
Cedar Golf Course. 

The millage increase, on the other hand,
tells a different story by ward. Compared to May (when it failed), it
passed in south Lansing near I-96 and Edgewood Boulevard and also near
the airport in the 4th Ward. It also picked up absentee support since
May: The difference between yes votes and no votes was 828 in May; last
week it was 545.

Generally, voters in the south and
southwest portions of the city, as well as in the north and northwest
corner of the city, rejected the millage idea again last week. The
precincts that supported the millage increase were largely in the
central region of the city, roughly south of Saginaw Street and north
of Holmes Road. 

Here’s how candidates fared last week:

1st Ward

1st Ward Councilwoman-elect Jody
Washington beat opponent Lynne Martinez among absentee voters and also
on the outskirts of the ward — and did so by 88 votes. (That’s a
landslide compared to the 2007 election, when Eric Hewitt defeated
incumbent Harold Leeman by 17 votes.) 

Washington’s support came from Old Town,
North Lansing, Groesbeck, Frandor, REO Town and near Potter Park Zoo.
Martinez, on the other hand, won the East Side Neighborhood, bounded by
Saginaw Street, Pennsylvania Avenue, I-496 and U.S. 127.

The 1st Ward is also the only area
poised to have new Council representation. The dynamic is intriguing
because outgoing Councilman Eric Hewitt is seen largely as a Carol Wood
supporter and Mayor Virg Bernero opponent. Washington is, for now, seen
to be at least more open to dialog than Hewitt was, one local
strategist said.

“I think she’s going to be someone going
back and forth between different factions on different votes,” Todd
Cook, of Main Street Strategies, said last week on “City Pulse on the
Air.” “I think Carol and Virg will be courting her heavily as well as
other (Council) members. I’m looking forward to not having every vote
predetermined before they happen.”

3rd Ward

Voters in southwest Lansing kept their
ward representative, A’Lynne Robinson, in office by a 55 percent to 45
percent margin. The incumbent Robinson fared better in this race over
challenger Jason Wilkes than she did in 2007 when she ran against
incumbent William Matt. Robinson won that race by only 72 votes, while
this year she defeated Wilkes by 343. Robinson also lost the absentee
vote in 2007, but won it this year.

Though Robinson won the same number of
precincts as in 2007, she was supported in different areas of the ward
this year. Colonial Village Neighborhood backed Robinson this year, but
supported Matt in 2007. Meanwhile, Wilkes won support in the southeast
portion of the ward along Washington Road that Robinson had in 2007.


The secret to Carol Wood’s success is
the steady support from older, absentee voters. Wood was widely popular
among absentee voters last week, as she was in the primary, winning the
absentee vote in every ward. Also, voters who supported Washington in
the 1st Ward tended to support Wood: Of the five precincts and absentee
votes Wood led with in the 1st Ward, Washington won four of those
precincts and also the absentee vote.

Those hoping to see a Rory
Neuner/Derrick Quinney make-up on Council were most evident in the 4th
Ward. In that northwest section of the city, Quinney and Neuner were
the top two vote getters in seven of 11 precincts. Comparatively, Wood
and Quinney were the top two vote getters in the entire 3rd Ward and
among absentee voters. Quinney fared the best out of all four
candidates in the 1st and 2nd wards, placing in the top two in 14 of 18

And even though it appeared the Lansing
Regional Chamber of Commerce realized that by launching more negative
attack ads toward Quinney than Wood for Neuner or Stewart, the tactic
failed because Quinney still ended up placing second and the right to
retain his seat.

“The attacks on Derrick Quinney weren’t
something people believed in,” Cook said last week, referring to the
work of the chamber’s front group Greater Lansing Progress. “The thing
they missed out on is you can point to differences in policies,
certainly, but to try and impugn someone with a record like Derrick Quinney is just not where people want to go.”