It’s easy to focus all attention on the presidential candidates during election years. But come Election Day, when you look at your ballot and are trying to decide whose name sounds the best for Ingham County Drain Commissioner, remember that the local names also have a huge impact on your life. The state proposals and local officials deal directly with the policies that will influence MSU students, so read on to learn more about what you’ll see on November 2.
[ballot]Proposal 1 seeks to amend the state constitution to require the approval of Michigan voters for new gambling ventures. This includes any gaming machines (like slot machines), new casinos or new state lottery games, but excludes the three Detroit casinos and any current or future American Indian operated casinos.
Voting ‘yes’ on Proposal 1 supports the decision to give voters power in terms of controlling gambling.
While MSU political science professor Belinda Davis would like to be in charge of gambling in her community, she said you have to consider the huge sources of revenue the lottery provides for education. The state lottery dispenses an average of $600 million a year to education, according to a statement from Gov. Jennifer Granholm. That money furnishes the salaries of 11,000 teachers and helps pay for books, computers and classrooms for Michigan’s students. Granholm and others are concerned that if the lottery’s ability to implement new games is threatened, it will not be able to compete with the casinos. In turn, less money will be earned and less money given to education.
[signs] The special elections that will have to take place every time a new game is introduced are also a costly factor, Davis said. “Special elections cost a ton of money, especially when we are in such dire economic straits as it is.”
The other proposal on the ballot, Proposal 2, would prohibit gay marriage or civil unions in Michigan. The proposal would amend the state constitution to include “the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.”
Same-sex marriage is not currently allowed in Michigan, but if Proposal 2 is passed civil unions will not be permitted either. This means that unmarried couples, gay or straight, will not be legally protected. It is possible that the benefits received by domestic partners could be jeopardized, as well as to spousal rights (such as making a decision in a medical life-or-death situation).
Opponents of Proposal 2 like the Coalition for a Fair Michigan are concerned that the unmarried partners of government and state universities will stop receiving health care and other benefits if the proposal passes. The Coalition suggests that this could lead to the elimination of same-sex partner benefits for public employers as well, according to analysis done by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan.
Supporters maintain that the proposal is only to re-enforce the definition of marriage in the Michigan Constitution, not to take away current policies.
But the voting doesn’t stop there. In addition to the presidential candidates and the Michigan proposals, the East Lansing ballot includes state representatives, university trustees and Ingham County Officials.
East Lansing falls in the 8th Congressional District. Our representative will represent us at the national level, which includes drafting and enacting laws for Michigan, levying taxes and appropriating funds from the general fund budget. Republican Mike Rogers is the incumbent. Competitors for the seat include Robert D. Alexander the Democrat, Will Mangopoulos of the U.S. Taxpayers Party and Will Tyler White the Libertarian.
[lerczak] The state representative for East Lansing’s 69th district is responsible for passing state laws to protect and promote the public health and general welfare of the people. The Michigan House of Representatives also appropriates funds from the nearly $10 billion general fund. Democrat Gretchen Whitmer is the current representative and Republican Angela Lindsay is challenging for the position.
Voters will also get to choose two people for each of the major educational governing bodies at MSU, the U of M and Wayne State University. Eight people are competing to be on the MSU Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees has the power of general supervision of the university and to control and direct all spending. The Board controls our education at MSU: how much we pay in tuition, what those tuition funds are spent on, how many professors are employed and much more.
Randall Pittman, Republican, and Joel I. Ferguson, Democrat, are the incumbents. Republican Melanie Foster, Democrat Phil Thompson, Green Party member Benjamin Alan Burgis, Crystal Van Sickle of the U.S. Taxpayer’s Party, Katherine Dern of the Natural Law Party and Bill Hall and Michael H. Miller from the Libertarian Party are also running.
Furthermore, there are two open spots on the State Board of Education. The State Board of Education is the general governing body for public education, including higher education. The Board is also responsible for advising the Legislature about the funding public education needs.
Ingham County also has multiple openings in the public official department. The Ingham County Prosecuting Attorney and Sheriff are both up for election this year. Democrat Stuart Dunnings III is the Ingham County prosecuting attorney incumbent and Republican Laura Moody is opposing him. Democrat Gene L. Wriggelsworth, the incumbent, and Republican James Gill are vying to be Ingham County Sheriff.
Other open Ingham County public official positions include the Drain Commissioner, who is in charge of construction and finance of drains in the county, the Register of Deeds, who is in charge of the public records office, the County Clerk and the County Treasurer.
Visit the Michigan Voter Information Center online at to view your ballot and learn more about the candidates.

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