Local election results paint an interesting shift in Canton voting preferences - the community elected a Republican supervisor, and three of the four trustees elected into office were Republican, but as reported by the Wayne County clerks office, Canton precincts voted for Barack Obama by a significant 26,089 to 19,076 margin, a larger proportion of the vote than Obama achieved on a national scale. Here's the results of races that have been called as of this writing, and some commentary - we're keeping it non-partisan, but it is difficult for anyone to deny that the local, state and national landscape has changed, at the very least, during this election cycle.
Voter turnout in Canton was strong. As the above presidential vote totals indicate, as well the 42,300 votes cast in the Supervisor race, Canton voters turned out in large numbers, and were engaged in determining the outcome of national, state and local races. Good Job, Canton!
In the Canton races:
Township Supervisor: Winner - Phil LaJoy (R). While it is not surprising that LaJoy won - this area tends to vote Republican in local elections; he ran a strong campaign; and he is a very experienced politician - what is surprising is that he won by less of a margin over Democrat David Marsh than expected. With all precincts reporting, LaJoy garnered 55% of the vote - a strong margin, but we were expecting more. What does this mean? No. 1, it is apparent that Democrats got out to vote, as the results for Obama and the Democrat candidates for state house seats indicate. It may also mean that people have grown weary of politics as usual - the same sentiment that carried Barack Obama to the Presidency also fueled the surprising vote total for Marsh in this race. It's a safe bet that LaJoy was seen as someone that would govern in much the same way as Tom Yak. This probably helped him in this campaign, but the desire for change exhibited by Canton voters suggests that Phil LaJoy will not have the lock on the Supervisors job that Tom Yack enjoyed for many years. With a township budget challenged by slowed business growth, declining home values and slowing population growth, the Township Supervisor and incoming Trustees will be expected to do more with less. This challenge will define LaJoy's term, and hopes, if he has them, for re-election - with the changing demographics of this community, and in this election, the demonstrated desire for change demonstrated by the electorate - a continuing Republican grip on the township cannot be assured.
Trustees: Winners, by vote totals - Todd Caccamo (R), John Anthony (R), Pat Williams (R), Syed Taj (D). Due to the fact that a voter selects four Trustee candidates to fill four positions, the vote totals among candidates were, as expected, very close. As a result, it is difficult to read too much into the results. It appeared a given that with only one Democrat candidate, Syed Taj was going to make it. What is interesting however, is that incumbent Republican Karl Zarbo did not, again an indication that the mandate against "politics as usual" was resonant with Canton voters.
Editors Note: Of the winning Trustee candidates, Messrs. Caccamo and Williams were respondents to our "Meet the Candidates" questionnaire.
Wayne County Commissioner, District 11: Winner - Kevin McNamara (D). Although not all voting precincts had reported as of this writing, with a roughly 60-40% ratio of the vote, it appears that the incumbent McNamara has held on to his seat. Despite a strong campaign by Republican challenger Steve Johnson, this election cycle was not going to see many incumbent Democrats lose, and in a district that includes stronger Democratic areas than Canton, this race was McNamara's to not lose. It appears he didn't.
35th District Court: Winner - Jim Plakas. If sheer tonnage of signage, mobile billboards and campaign appearances were a preliminary indicator of vote totals, this race should have been a Barone landslide. To that extent, Plakas' 52-48% victory in a non-partisan race was a surprise. What did Barone in? We'll suggest that Plakas' experience as a prosecutor was a strong contributing factor. The rest is speculation, but we also think that Barone may have misstepped in publicizing his endorsements from the other preliminary election candidates as a strong campaign theme - it may not have helped him to identify himself with the candidates the voters had already rejected. Finally, it is often suggested that a person that pushes their own candidacy for a job too hard ends up turning-off the people that they want to hire them, and that very well could have been a factor in this race. People are not accustomed to seeing judges as high-profile candidates. How visible, really, is a judge after they have been elected? With his face appearing everywhere - Barone may have actually campaigned against himself in this election. A portion of the voting public may have become weary of him before he was even elected. There was a pretty good vote total in this race - suggesting that voters were engaged in determining the outcome. We applaud both candidates for keeping the campaign about their qualifications for office - there was none of the personal attacks that marred other races for judge.
State Representative, District 20: Winner - Marc Corriveau (D)
State Representative, District 21: Winner - Dian Slavens (D)
With both of these races convincing victories by a Democratic candidate, with both Districts expanding beyond the Canton community, it is fair to say that the Obama effect, and the ability to vote this race on a straight party ticket, helped propel each candidate to victory. Both of their opponents ran on a classic Republican platform, and in this election, it became apparent that a large bloc of voters rejected it. As our own poll on the Bush presidency provided a preliminary indication of, many voters, including perhaps many Republicans, could not identify the Republican Party candidates as being the change agents they felt were needed. One aspect of George Bush's enduring legacy will be the defeat of many Republican candidates across the country in the last two election cycles.
US House, District 11: Winner Thaddeus McCotter: His strong showing in the Western Oakland county portion of this district enabled McCotter to hold on to his seat in this closer-than-expected race. Democratic challenger Joseph Larkin actually carried the vote in the Wayne County portion of this district. As the Republican incumbent, McCotter benefited from the Republican orientation of his district, and also because he was seen as someone who took his own stand on issues, which at times was not consistent with the Republican mainstream, becoming a benefit to him as many other incumbent Republicans were swept out of office. Still, McCotter cannot take his win as a significant mandate. He didn't dominate the vote over an opponent that really didn't put up much of a fight, and as a minority member of Congress, with a Democrat President and Democrat majority in the Senate, he'll need to represent the interests of a large portion of his constituency that voted for someone else. This will be a challenging term for McCotter.
Editor's Note: Freep.com election coverage as of 1:45 PM on Nov. 5, with information updated on November 6, was the source of election results cited in this article.