Many newspapers make endorsements for state and federal offices, ranging from President down to state representative. However, not many papers in Michigan issue their recommendations for the state Board of Education and the governing boards for the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University. During the past week, four newspapers issued endorsements for some or all of these offices, beginning last Sunday with City Pulse of Lansing, which published its recommendations for all eight contested positions on the four boards.
On Wednesday, the Michigan Daily endorsed two candidates for University of Michigan Regent.
On Saturday, the Detroit Free Press joined City Pulse by publishing a summary of all its endorsements, including those for the three university governing boards, which it had originally issued in an earlier editorial.
State Board of Education
City Pulse was the only paper to endorse candidates for the State Board of Education, recommending Democrats Michelle Fecteau and Lupe Ramos-Montigny. Fecteau lives in Detroit and serves as the executive director of the Wayne State University chapter of the American Association of University Professors. Ramos-Montigny is a retired teacher from Grand Rapids with an education degree from Grand Valley State University. She was the Kent County Democratic Party Chair 2003-2004 and served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008. She currently serves as Second Vice-Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party. She ran for the Board in 2010.
Fecteau and Ramos-Montigny are running against Republican nominees Todd Corser of Lapeer and Melanie Kurdys of Portage, who ousted incumbent board member Nancy Danhof in a contentious convention. Also contending for the two seats are Candace Caveny of Lapeer and Dwain Reynolds of Middleville for the Greens, Andy LaCureaux of Hazel Park for the Libertarians, and Karen Adams of Lake Odessa and Gail Graeser of Fremont for the U.S. Taxpayers Party.
University of Michigan Board of Regents
City Pulse, the Free Press, and the Michigan Daily all endorsed Democrats Mark Bernstein of Ann Arbor and Shauna Ryder Diggs of Detroit. Bernstein is the son of lawyer Sam Bernstein and the brother of former Wayne State Governor Richard Bernstein. Both papers praised Bernstein. City Pulse lauded him for his work on the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. The Free Press called him possibly "the most enthusiastic and well-studied candidate ever for a university board." City Pulse praised Diggs faintly, saying that "she knew her way around the campus." The Free Press was even less enthusiastic, but noted that "she has good ideas about affordability and pledges to approach issues thoughtfully" and narrowly gave her its endorsement.
Both the Free Press and City Pulse heaped scorn upon the Republican nominees, Rob Steele of Ypsilanti and Dan Horning of Grand Haven. The Free Press disliked Steele for his embrace of the Tea Party, while City Pulse derided him for his reputation as a perpetual candidate (Steele was the Republican nominee for Congress against Dingell in 2010). While Horning served as a Regent before from 1994-2002, the Free Press found "his opposition to affirmative action and narrow-minded stance on other diversity issues" disqualifying.
Running against the major party candidates are nominees from all four minor parties in Michigan. Gregory Scott Stempfle of Ferndale and James Lewis Hudler of Chelsea are running for the Libertarians, Eric Borregard of Dexter for the Greens, Joe Sanger of Lansing and Gerald Van Sickle of Wellston for the U.S. Taxpayers Party, and Nikki Mattson of Ann Arbor for the Natural Law Party.
Michigan State University Board of Trustees
The Lansing State Journal joined City Pulse and the Free Press in endorsing incumbents Melanie Foster of East Lansing, a Republican, and Joel Ferguson of Lansing, a Democrat, for re-election. Foster, who appeared to be the only Republican City Pulse endorsed, earned the paper's praise for "her track record of being reasonable in her quest to keep tuition prices down." The Free Press called Ferguson "a steady hand" and Foster "one of the most active and involved board members since her election in 2004." LSJ merely said that "[b]oth have done well and should be retained."
The other major party candidates are Democrat Brain Mosallum of Dearborn and Republican Jeff Sakwa of West Bloomfield. The Free Press said nothing about either, but City Pulse called Sakwa a "fruit loop" and part of a group of "hard-right disciples" and "hell-bent ideologues running on cooked-up conspiracy theories about the federal government taking over our K-12 system or socialist indoctrination creeping into the minds of our young adults."
Three minor parties are also contesting for the two positions on the ballot. Michael Hiller of East Lansing is running for the Libertarians, while Lloyd Clarke of Bridgeport is standing for the Greens. Joining them are William Mohr II of Grand Rapids and Steven Young of Hopkins for the U.S. Taxpayers Party.
Wayne State University Board of Governors
City Pulse and the Free Press split their endorsements for WSU Governor. Both agreed on Democrat Kim Trent of Detroit, who worked on education issues in the cabinet of former Governor Jennifer Granhom. The Free Press noted was interested in raising the graduation rate of students at WSU. City Pulse endorsed fellow Democrat Sandra Hughes O’Brien of Northville, while the Free Press recommended Satish Jasti of West Bloomfield. City Pulse called O'Brien, chairwoman of the Michigan Democratic Party’s Hispanic-Latino Caucus, "a solid pick." The Free Press thought Jasti "would bring a strong financial background and perspective to the board."
Rounding out the rest of the field are Republican Michael Busuito of Troy, Greens Margaret Guttshall and Latham Redding, both from Detroit, and Robert Gale of Stirling Heights and Mark Sosnowski of Dearborn Heights for the U.S. Taxpayers Party. In case some of the names look familiar, they have ran for office in 2010. This is at least the second time Guttshall has run for WSU Governor, while Redding was on the ballot for State Board of Education and Sosnowski ran for Congress.