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Gop Loses In A2 & Usa

Gop Loses In A2 & Usa image Gop Loses In A2 & Usa image
Parent Issue
Day
8
Month
November
Year
1974
OCR Text

Democrats swept to victory across the county on Tuesday, and President our Ford was quick to claim that GOP losses in no way indicated lack of support for his administraron. With a veto-proof House of Representatives now assured. Ford is likely to find it difficult to put through any of his programs. Despite Ford's disclaimer, the Republican Party is feeling the pinch of Watergate and the eeonomy, with upsets in many races at every level of government. In Ann Arbor, the local Republicans were hard hit by voter disapproval, as the controversial proposal to have preferential voting for mayor slid through to easy victory. The new voting plan, which can end the GOP stranglehold on city government, will go into effect with the April elections. City voters' disenchantment with Republicans did not spread outward into conservative Washtenaw County. Republican governor William Milliken was given another four years by four out of seven county voters, although he barely squeaked through statewide. Incumbent State Senator Gilbert Bursley retained his seat, and Congressman Marv Esch took the second congressonal district for the fifth time, bucking the national trend of GOP congressional losses. Republican candidate for state representative Rae Weaver barely failed in a wellfinanced attempt to unseat Democratie incumbent Perry Bullard, with vote totals giving Bullard only 12,946 to 12,153. Democrats also managed to maintain eight out of fifteen commissioners on the Washtenaw County Board, but were unable to gain any new seats. The Human Riglits Party victory on preferential failed to carry to other levéis of the ticket. Gubernatorial candidate Zolton Ferency, who received one percent of the statewide vote, did not even make that percentage in Washtenaw County. At the bottom of the ticket, county commissioner candidates Diane Hall and Marty Wegbreit increased percentages over 1972 HRP candidates, but not enough to defeat their Democratie opponents. LOCAL EFFECTS The most important victory for Ann Arbor is preferential voting, which should result in a Democratie mayor on Council next spring, and a Democratic-HRP majority . This combination two years ago succeeded in passing such legislation as a human rights ordinance which inchided nondiscrimination on marital status, student status and sexual preference, the original S5 marijuana law, and S600.00 for local social service groups. On the heels of the preferential victory, Republican Mayor James Stephenson announced he would not run for a second term, and further anticipated difficulty in finding a Republican candidate to run in that guaranteed loser spot. Asked about other effects of preferential, Stephenson claimed he "doesn't understand it," a strange comment from someone who cochaired the committee to defeat it. The proposal passed by a vote of 17,10$ to 15,602, in a surprise vote to most observers. With little positive publicity behind it, and opposition led by the Ann Arbor News as well as a heavily-financed campaign chaired by Stephenson and exDemocratie mayoral candidate Franz Mogdis. preferential's defeat seemed imminent. But even in the two heavily Republican-dominated wards, it was defeated by a small margin, and heavy, voter favoritism in the other three wards swung the election. Under the preferential system, voters for mayor are given a fïrst and second clioice vote. With three parties now running in city elections, it is likely that no single candidate would win a majority (over 50%) of the vote. If that happens, as it did in 1973 when Stephenson won the seat with less than half the citywide vote, the preferential system goes into effect. The party which has the least votes is dropped, and the second choice votes of its supporters are counted. In a three party system, that would give one of the other two candidates a majority, guaranteeing the mayor is "preferred" by most voters. In the past, the HRP has liad the least votes. Assuming that most of HRP second choice votes would go to a more liberal Democratie candidate. the Democrats can be expected to take the mayoral race next spring. Preferential voting may still face a lenge from Democrats, who supported the proposal only after they failed in a petition drive to put run-off elections for all city races on the ballot. The Dems are proposing to rewrite the current charter (which is where preferential is now located in the city books), and have started a petition drive to set up a charter commission for that purpose. Marjorie Brazier, Democratie city chairperson, has indicated that if the petition drive is successful, the Dems will want run-offs put in a new charter. NATIONAL EFFECTS While the Republican losses nationally are receiving the most attention, the final effects of the Democratie victories are not likely to bring about major changes in most national policies. The major problem facing the country, the economy, is not likely to improve through the reformist measures proposed by either major party. Under the current economie system, the rich continue to accumulate more wealth, while the poor remain just that. Unemployment, probably the most serious part of the economie crisis, will remain high until changes are made in the priorities of production. The gradual decline in natural resources, and the problems of over-population can not be easily solved through minor federal budget changes. However, considering Ford's inept proposals to curb the country's economie woes, from eating all your vegetables to driving slower on the road, a Democratie cpngress may be some improvement, and internationally could bring about an end to U.S. aid to South Vietnam's dictator Thieu. While Democrats took most races across the country, Michigan and Washtenaw County managed to elude the trend. But despite Democratie losses, Republican victories this year were narrow. Milliken took Levin by only 3%. Esch lost both Monroe and Washtenaw Counties, and only won because of heavy Republican turnout in Wayne County. Even Bursley's win dropped from 60% in 1972 to 54% this year. Local Republican victories seem to hang on heavy turnout in Republican areas, along with less-than-thrilling Democratie nominees. Sander Levin could not even pull through after scandal rocked the Republican ticket in the last days of the election, when Lieutenant Governor James Damman was accused of land speculation while previously holding office in his hometown. Levin was simply too wishywashy to most voters, and did not run on issues which could stir the public out of its post-Watergate apathy. In the Reuther-Esch race. Reuther was hampered by a late-starting campaign. A recount of the August primary contest between him and Dr.Edward Pierce slowed the race to a near halt for over a month. Even strong union support was unable to overeóme the fact that Reuther was new to the district, and relatively out of touch with local voters' interests. More than anything, the Democratie defeats in Michigan indícate the statewide Democratie Party must face some reorganizing, and begin to more clearly differentiate itself from the Republicans if it hopes to win future races. One of the main reasons the city Democrats have done well is their clear distinction from the other major party. WHITHER THE HRP? The one thing that emerges locally from this election is that it was not a good one for any party. For the Human Riglits Party, both state wide and locally, no obvious gains were made. The statewide ticket failed to gain the needed 5% of the vote which would have given it major party status. Locally, candidates lost who were given a good chance of winning. The diffïculties of a third party surfaced in this election. In Ann Arbor, the HRP has proven its ability to get ballot proposals passed, but still cannot carry those victories through to individual candidates. Ferency. who took 11% of the vote two years ago in a bid for State Supreme Court, pulled only 1 .2% in his race for governor. If building a viable third party is seen as a long-term process, the HRP is moving forward, although compared to its original Council victories has much ground yet to continued on page 6 Election Results continued from page 5 regain. In Nov. 1972, HRP candidate for U S Senate, Barbara Halpert, topped the ticket and pulled in 16,000 votes. This year, Ferency nearly doubled that amount, while voter turnouts were actually smaller than two years ago. Locally, in the 14th and 15th district, where county candidates were given a chance to win, both HRP candidates increased their total votes, while Democrats and Republicans slipped in percentages. Wegbreit pulled 46% of the votes, compáred to 25% two years ago. Hall had 25%, up from 20% in '72. One thing that may help the HRP after this election is a new ballot.status. This year, the HRP appeared sixth out out of nine parties on trie ballot, making it difficult to even find when people went to vote. Beca use it had more votes than any other minor party, it will move to third for future elections, increasing its visibility at the polls. However, that increased visibility will also depend on the HRP working harder for mass appeal, and building broad-based confidence in its ability to represent its constituents. One effort which will continue to increase HRP support is ballot drives. Locally, two issues are now in petition form to be put on the April ballot. The first is a revised rent control program, and the other is guaranteed funding from the city for child care. Statewide, plans are under way to petition for public ownership of utilities, one of the most popular of the HRP's stands during this election. . CHANGING THE FUTURE Perhaps the major factor in the defeat of progressive candidates locally was the low voter turnout, particularly in student areas in both Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. In general, Republican supporters swelled the voter turnout to about 60%. Two reasons for this low turnout may be the smear campaign tactics used by all parties. By campaigning on personalices rather than crucial issues which people are convinced really affect them personally, most people become apathetic to the political process. No clear differences emerge between candidates to make one more desireable than another. With no obvious choices available at the polls, voters simply don't go. A second problem is low voter registration in the campus areas, down by large numbers from the 1972 race which pitted anti-war McGovern against Tricky Dick. Before the spring elections, a massive campaign must be waged to get students registered and interested in the political process. Without student support, this area could easily revert to the Republican control it suffered with for many years in the past. The last two years of Republican control on Council, with repeal of the S5 marijuana fine, cancellation of the Blues and Jazz Festival and complete elimination of funding for social services, should not be allowed to continue for two more years. Preferential voting alone is not enough. People must register and express their choice. For most in Ann Arbor, that choice will not be the GOP. A QUICK LOOK AT SOME OTHER RACES Democrats swept all the education posts, including the two University of Michigan Board of Regents seats. New Regents will be Sarah Power and Thomas Roach. In the 15th district judge races, incumbent Sandy Elden outdistanced Don Koster by 4,000 votes, and George Alexander easily bested Shirley Burgoyne for the new eight-year judgeship. Other ballot proposals-mass transportation, limiting use of gas funds, and sppointed county manager failed. Washtenaw County Communtty College millage, Veteran's Bonus and Sales Tax repeal went through.