Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, at the Malice Green re-dedication site in Detroit on November 5, 2006. (Photo By Trish Cunningham).
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire Photo File
DETROIT -- The three incumbents survived the Detroit Public Schools' board primary race on Tuesday, a day that saw incredibly low voter turnout, 5.01 percent, according to unofficial election results.
Ten people vied for six spots in the primary. The winners will face off in the Nov. 6 election, when voters will pick candidates for six district seats up for grabs. A seventh board seat is uncontested.
With all 254 precincts reporting, Tyrone Winfrey, an incumbent who works in the admissions office at the University of Michigan, was the top vote-getter in District 4 with 1,576 votes. He'll challenge Ramon Patrick, a real estate investor who got 926 votes.
Incumbent Joyce Hayes-Giles, a vice president at DTE Energy who amassed 2,730 votes, will face Sandra Hines, a licensed social worker who received 2,160 votes, in the District 5 race.
District 6 will see Terry Catchings, a Realtor who received 1,594 votes, challenge incumbent Paula Johnson, an attorney who racked up 971 votes.
Johnson, who trailed her competitor before all the votes were tallied, was confident about the general election.
"Of course I'll pull ahead," she said. "I need to do a better job in getting my message out "
Board members elected in November will have to wrestle with the district's ongoing financial problems and declining enrollment. They will also oversee the system's massive school closure plan, which angered many parents, teachers, students and community members.
Charles Farmer, 77, said he voted for Winfrey. One of the issues that concerned him was the school closure plan, which Winfrey supported.
Farmer said even though some residents are mad about the closures, the school board did what was necessary. "They had to close schools," he said.
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Detroit voters keep 3 school trustees in race
Turnout just 5% in primary contest
August 8, 2007
BY CHASTITY PRATT DAWSEY
FREE PRESS EDUCATION WRITER
Detroit voters decided Tuesday to keep three incumbent school board members in the race, according to final unofficial primary election results.
Incumbent Paula Johnson, District 6, was the only Detroit Public Schools board member who didn't win her district. Johnson got 33% of votes, enough to beat opponent Baynard Dinkins in a three-way race, but trailed candidate Terry Catchings who got 55%.
In District 4, board member Tyrone Winfrey got 41% of votes to candidate Ramon Patrick's 24% of votes in a four-way race. In District 5, Joyce Hayes-Giles got 47% of votes to candidate Sandra Hines' 37% of votes in a three-way race.
Turnout was just 5% with 12,842 ballots cast citywide of 256,213 registered voters in 254 precincts that had primaries. More than half of the city's residents did not have a primary in which to vote.
The incumbents have served since January 2006 on the first school board elected after the Legislature removed the DPS board during the state takeover. The takeover was from spring 1999 through December 2005.
Seven of the 11 school board members are up for re-election, but only three of those officials faced elimination in the primary.
One other board member -- Marvis Cofield in District 7 -- is running unopposed.
Besides the candidates advancing from Tuesday's primary, the following candidates will face off in the November election:
• District 1 -- Carla Scott (I) and Tawanna Simpson
• District 2 -- Jonathan Cleveland Kinloch (I) and Otis Mathis
• District 3 -- Annie Carter (I) and Dwight Thomas
The candidates are one step closer to sitting on a board with the unique responsibility of creating policy for a district that faces a staggering declining enrollment trend and a state-mandated deficit elimination plan. The plan includes closing more of the district's 200 schools; nearly 70 schools have been closed in the past three years.
Hines, 53, a social worker who has had contracts with DPS for the past decade, said she doesn't intend to focus her campaign on her opponent, but on the district's needs.
"We need to aim for comprehensive school reform," Hines said. "My whole campaign has been built around the fact that we need to rebuild our schools which will ultimately rebuild our community."
Hayes-Giles, an executive for DTE Energy, said that she plans a more aggressive campaign for the November race.
"I will fight hard to keep my seat," Hayes-Giles said. "Because I believe I share a common vision of the silent majority who may not be at the school board meetings all of the time, but they want better for their children."
Contact CHASTITY PRATT DAWSEY at email@example.com.