Rinschler, Fenberg Re-Elected to School Board, Charter Amendment Fails

In addition, Bloomfield Hills Republican Mike McCready takes the 44th District State House seat and Shelley Goodman Taub is elected to the Oakland County Board of Commissioners.

Election Day is over in Birmingham, and after a long day and even longer night tallying votes, Birmingham has re-elected Michael Fenberg and Geri Rinschler to the Birmingham Board of Education.

In addition, Birmingham's City Charter Amendment — which would have made it easier for Birmingham to sell city-owned property — failed at the ballot box, with 56.5 percent of voters voting 'no.'

It was a long night at the Birmingham City Clerk's office, with the final results from all nine of Birmingham's precincts not coming in until 1 a.m. While results were available from the individual precincts early in the evening, it was the absentee tally — at least 4,600 ballots — that took the longest to count.

The school board race took an interesting turn early in the evening, with unofficial precinct results — around 8,000 votes — showing challenger Mary Katherine Blake ahead of Rinschler, a 16-year veteran of the school board, by 68 votes.

While Blake, a 21-year-old University of Michigan student, told Patch she was still in the race in September, Blake later indicated in a candidate profile published in the Birmingham Bloomfield Eagle that she wasn't interested in running anymore.

"I think that the two incumbents are more than qualified for the positions and that I don’t have the time that I originally thought I would to dedicate to such an important role," Blake said. Blake would eventually receive a total of 2,974 votes, for 22.2 percent of the total vote count.

Another absent candidate on the Birmingham Board of Education ballot was John Connelly, who announced he was dropping out of the race in mid-September. Connelly receive 2,590 votes on Tuesday, winning 19.3 percent of the total vote.

Birmingham voters also shot down a proposed amendment to the city charter, an amendment that would eliminate a rule that dictates for how much the city can sell its own property. Currently, the city can't sell property for more than $2 per capita (or $40,000) without putting the land sale to a vote.

At the end of the night, Birmingham residents voted down the charter amendment 6,184 votes to 4,741.

Republicans keep state house seat, Taub wins Potts' old county commission spot

Also in local races, Bloomfield Hills Republican Mike McCready defeated West Bloomfield Democrat Dorian Coston Tuesday night to win the 44th District seat in the Michigan House of Representatives.

McCready, a Bloomfield Hills city commissioner, will fill the seat currently occupied by Rep. Chuck Moss (R-Birmingham), who is facing term limits this year but eyeing a State Senate run in 2014. Overall, McCready won a little less than 57 percent of the vote in communities covered by the 44th District, including Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township and parts of West Bloomfield.

To get to this spot, however, was a tough road for McCready. McCready had to face a full roster of Republicans on the primary ballot, including longtime county commissioner and Birmingham resident Dave Potts.

Speaking of Potts, his old seat on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners was won by fellow Republican Shelley Goodman Taub Tuesday night, who took 65 percent of the vote. Democrat Paul Secrest won 34 percent of the vote.

Taub has represented a district in West Bloomfield and Bloomfield Township on and off since 1993, and now represents Birmingham after her former district and Potts' district were combined through re-districting.

For more

Want more elections? Check out how Birmingham voted Tuesday night on various issues in How Did Birmingham Vote in Tuesday's Elections? Then, see all the results from the 2012 general election in Birmingham and beyond:

  • Barack Obama Re-Elected President
  • Michigan Elections 2012: Stabenow Captures Senate Seats

Catch up with all of Patch's coverage of the 2012 general election by visiting Birmingham's 2012 General Election Guide.

By the Numbers: 2012 Birmingham Election Results

Birmingham School District (two seats)
Results Percent Michael Fenberg 3,945
29.4% Geri Rinschler 3,854
28.7% Mary Katherine Blake 2,974
22.2% John B. Connelly 2,590
19.3% Birmingham Charter Amendment Results Percent Yes 4,471
43.4% No 6,184

Oakland County Commissioner Results Percent Paul Secrest, Democrat
34% Shirley Goodman Taub, Republican 23,336 65.7%


State Representative, 40th District Results Percent Mike McCready, Republican
56.9 % Dorian Coston, Democrat 22,771
40.6% Steve Burgis, Libertarian 1,312

What happened at the polls

11:45 p.m.:

All the absentee ballots aren't reported in Birmingham yet, however Birmingham School Board incumbents Geri Rinschler and Michael Fenberg have pulled ahead of challenger Mary Katherine Blake.

As of 11:45 p.m., Fenberg has 28.9 percent of the vote while Rinschler has 27.2 percent of the vote. Blake, meanwhile, has only 23 percent of the vote.

10 p.m.:

While the unofficial results from Birmingham's nine precincts are in, the city clerk's office is still working on tallying the absentee count. According to City Clerk Laura Broski, Birmingham issued more than 4,600 absentee ballots this election.

While most elections in Birmingham are so far trending Repulican (particularly for state and county candidates), the race is still close for the Birmingham School Board race. Currently, incumbent and school board president Michael Fenberg is leading the pack with 27.6 percent of the vote.

Challenger Mary Katherine Blake, meanwhile, has 25.4 percent of the vote while incumbent Geri Rinschler has 24.6 percent of the vote. Before the absentee votes were in, Rinschler was trailing Blake by 68 votes.

Meanwhile, the Birmingham City Charter Amendment looks set for defeat. Barring absentee votes, 58 percent of voters said no to the amendment at the polls, leading the 'yes' votes by 1,000 votes.

8 p.m.:

And the polls are closed!

The votes from Birmingham’s nine precincts will be tallied at the City Clerk’s office in City Hall starting right now, with office representatives announcing the official results at the count is through.

Birmingham, as well as the rest of Oakland County, will also be transmitting election results straight from the precincts to the county via wireless cellular modems. Oakland County is the second county in the United States to use this technology.

Those wishing to hear the election results in person are asked to enter City Hall through the Pierce Street entrance. The complete unofficial election results will be posted on the city’s website — bhamgov.org/electionresults. You can also find the results at the Oakland County website.

7 p.m.:

The 2012 general election is drawing to a close and while voter turnout won’t be known until later tonight, the absentee ballot return rate is high.

According to City Clerk Laura Broski, Birmingham issued 4,610 absentee ballots and as of Tuesday afternoon, 4,513 have been returned — a 94 percent return rate.

“It’s a good turnout,” Broski said.

In February, Broski said Birmingham usually sees a 90 percent absentee turnout. During the February presidential primary, the city mailed out 1,533 absentee ballots while mailing out 1,749 absentee ballots during the 2011 November election.

Voters have until 8 p.m. Tuesday to return their absentee ballots to City Hall.

6 p.m.:

Election Day 2012 is running smoothly in Birmingham, City Clerk Laura Broski reported Tuesday afternoon.

“So far, so good,” said Broski, who noted that despite large crowds at Birmingham polling stations at the beginning of the day, the lines are moving quickly and no problems have been reported.

As for predictions, Broski stayed mum, noting she had no idea where the election was going. At the very least, she’s hoping the volunteers at the clerk’s office are able to tally all the votes before midnight — the time the presidential election wrapped in Birmingham in 2008.

5 p.m.:

There’s no better time to be organized than on Election Day, according to Birmingham Patch blogger and professional organizer Jennifer Heard.

With many students home from school, Heard encourages parents and residents to take time out of the day to review the ballot (check it out here before you head to the polls) so that you’re prepared when you enter the voting booth.

Plus, spend some time getting the kids in on the action. “If we can teach our children to take careful consideration when they vote, as well as how to evaluate proposals responsibly, we can help our society to advance by passing positive initiatives and having lively and intelligent discussion with our friends and neighbors.”

Who knows? By being an organized electorate, we might even be able to reduce or eliminate the need for backstabbing, mudslinging and other trash talking, because they will become ineffective.

To read more, visit Get Organized for Election Day, then check out these election-themed blogs:

  • Finally  — My Phone Won’t Ring!
  • A Little Voting Levity
  • The “Fiscal Cliff” is Almost Here

Want to share your voice? Starting a blog on Patch is easy! Learn more here.

4 p.m.:

Wondering who those folks are at the polls with the “Challenger” stickers? A poll challenger is a representative of a political party who can request election board members to “challenge” any person trying to vote.

According to the Michigan Department of State, challengers have the right to challenge a voter if the challenger has “good reason to believe" that a voter isn’t a resident of the city, is younger than 18, is not a U.S. citizens or has not yet registered to vote.

At Birmingham’s Precinct 1, challengers were busy looking over election inspectors’ shoulders while checking lists of registered voters. 

What happens if you’re challenged while trying to vote?

  • The challenged voter must take an oath swearing to answer all questions honestly.
  • The voter is then questioned by the challenger on their voter qualifications, such as their citizenship, age, residency and date of registration.
  • If the voter proves they’re qualified to vote, they will do so in a specially-prepared “challenged ballot.”
  • A challenged voter may not vote if he or she refuses to take the oath or answer the questions, or is found to be not qualified.
  • Election inspectors must make a full record of all challenged voters.

3 p.m.:

Presidential elections can be busy, especially for the locations picked as polling stations. However, according to Renee Cortwright, director of the Birmingham Area Seniors Center (BASCC), they love hosting elections.

“We appreciate having BASCC as a polling station,” Cortwright said at her office Tuesday morning. “We can be part of the process.”

BASCC, which hosts Precinct 5, closed its gym Tuesday to make room for the 25 voting booths. According to a BASCC volunteer, the senior center only had to cancel two classes to make room for the election.

Cortwright said BASCC staff like to “take election inspectors under their wing,” providing them with coffee and a place to take their breaks throughout the day.

As for voter traffic at BASCC: there were no lines outside the BASCC gym and volunteers said while the traffic had been steady all day, it hasn’t been overwhelming.

That steady traffic is good news for BASCC, Cortwright said. Cortwright said with so many community members walking through the doors, it gives residents the chance to check out BASCC and all the programs the center offers.

2:30 p.m.:

If you didn't have enough incentive to go to the polls today, here's the latest from the First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham on Facebook:

If you are lucky enough to vote in Precinct 4 in Birmingham, there is free hot coffee provide all day as our welcome to the community. Stop by for a cup even if you don't vote here!

2 p.m.:

At least one Romney was voting in Birmingham Tuesday — but it wasn’t a presidential candidate.

According to a report in the Birmingham Eccentric, 18-year-old Madison Romney — Mitt Romney’s niece — voted for her uncle at the First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham early Tuesday morning.

“I’ll vote for my uncle,” the University of Michigan freshman told an Eccentric reporter. “It’s really exciting.”

According to the Detroit News, Madison is flying to Boston Tuesday afternoon to be with her uncle and await the final results.

READ MORE: Madison Romney casts her vote for uncle Mitt in Birmingham

1:30 p.m.:

While the lines were long this morning, Patch readers reported varying wait times on the Birmingham Patch Facebook page.

Carolyn Burger said she was voter No. 457 this morning at the Adams Street Fire Department. The entire process, took "15 minutes in and out!"

Arthur Lang also reported a half-hour wait time at the fire station Tuesday morning. Have you voted yet? Join the conversation at www.facebook.com/BirminghamPatch.

1 p.m.:

For Mara D’Agostini, sister-in-law to 48th District Court judge candidate Diane D’Agostini, campaigning is all about meeting nice people and hearing their stories.

“I meet a lot of nice people out here,” said D’Agostini, who was encouraging Birmingham voters to consider her sister-in-law outside precinct 4 at the First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham.

D’Agostini said she’s been campaigning for her sister-in-law for several years now and, after arriving at First Presbyterian at 6:45 a.m., she said she plans to stick around until polls close. Luckily, she said laughing, someone had already been around as of 10 a.m. with the coffee.

While D’Agostini said she tries to avoid confrontations with disgruntled voters, she’s surprised at how nice voters really are — and how willing they are to talk about why they support Judge D’Agostini.

“Some people come up with their little stories about why they’re voting for D’Agostini,” she said. “A lot of people like her cable show. A lot of people like her views on drunk driving.”

D’Agostini was the only one with a campaign sign in the First Presbyterian parking lot Tuesday morning. The only other candidate she said she’d seen so far was Circuit Court judge candidate Wendy Potts, who stopped by earlier in the morning.

“I’m surprised there aren’t more people out, especially campaigning for the presidential election,” she said.


Derby Middle School was bustling Tuesday morning as voters streamed in at a rapid, but steady, pace to Precincts 2 and 3, both located in the middle school gym.

While there were only a few with campaign signs outside Derby, located at the corner of Adams Road and Derby, parking was at a premium.  As of 11 a.m., all parking spots were filled and there were plenty of cars parked in the bus zones, with some halfway onto the grass.

Inside, a line snaked from the gym doors to the back entrance.

11:30 a.m.:

While Birmingham only has two local issues on Tuesday’s ballot, there are even more local issues at stake in Birmingham’s neighboring communities of Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms and Franklin.

Five candidates are running for three open spots on the Beverly Hills Village Council, including:

  • Jacqueline Kelly
  • Brian LaFerriere
  • Tony Lott
  • Marianne McLennan
  • John G. Mooney

There’s also one proposal on the Beverly Hills ballot, which would amend the Village Charter so that when there’s a vacancy on the council, someone could be appointed to fill the spot until the next village election.

Residents in Beverly Hills, Franklin and Bingham Farms will also be voting for the next Southfield Township clerk, which helps coordinates elections for Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms and Franklin. In that race, incumbent Sharon Tischler is running against challenger Andrea Briggs.

All voters in the Birmingham Public School district, including residents of Beverly Hills, Franklin and Bingham Farms, will vote for the two open spots on the Birmingham Board of Education.

10 a.m.:

They may not be able to vote, but for many Birmingham students, Election Day is still a holiday.

There is no school Tuesday for elementary, middle school and Birmingham Covington School students in the Birmingham Public School district.

Full parking lots and long lines at the polls is one reason. Birmingham’s Precinct 7 is located at Pierce Elementary while Precincts 2 and 3 are both located at Derby Middle School. Precinct 5, meanwhile, is located at the Birmingham Area Seniors Center, which also shares facilities with Midvale Early Childhood Center.

According to district spokeswoman Marcia Wilkinson, the school district typically keep schools open on Election Day with the exception of major elections, such as presidential elections.

Still, some Birmingham students were able to cast a ballot this year — even if they don’t count. Students at Berkshire Middle School and West Maple Elementary voted for the next president during a mock election Monday. According to West Maple principal Laura Mahler, West Maple students voted to re-elect Barack Obama by a two-to-one margin.

In comments on the Birmingham Patch Facebook page, several readers applauded the mock election, though one noted the exercise was “disturbing.”

“Save voting for the adults and let kids be kids,” Beth Briarwood wrote.

9:05 a.m.:

What goes better with your “I Voted” sticker than … a doughnut?

Tim Hortons Café and Bake Shop is offering a coupon for a free doughnut with the purchase of a beverage all day Tuesday in honor of election day.

Simply print the coupon from the Tim Hortons website (or see the coupon in the photo section of this article).

Tim Hortons opened its doors in Birmingham at the newly-renovated Mobil gas station at 36101 Woodward Ave. in mid-July.

8:30 a.m.:

 It seems that voting early is on a lot of Birmingham residents' minds Tuesday morning. Even though polls opened at 7 a.m., the line was already 50-70 people deep by 6:50 a.m.

"I'm guess I'm not the only one who thought it would be good to vote early," one voter said at Precinct 1, located at the Holy Name School, before the polls opened Tuesday. "I kept trying to think of the best time to vote."

Despite the lines, election inspectors worked hard to keep the line moving steadily. Longtime inspector Mary Anne Wheeler encouraged voters standing in line to have their driver's license (or any other form of photo ID) out and ready to go before entering the voting area.

Still, some voters were deterred by the line. "Anyone know how long the line is?" asked one resident who quickly walked left after being told it was taking 20 minutes to get through the line.

After you leave the polls, early voters could then head over to Birmingham Starbucks to pick up your free wristband from www.createjobsforUSA.org. The wristbands are courtesy of Howard Schultz.


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