By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR — Last week’s primary election balloting set the stage for a mayoral showdown among current officials, a tight race for the treasurer’s office, and more than a dozen prospective city council members.
No matter the November outcome Taylor residents will greet at least five new city council members, a new treasurer and perhaps a new mayor.
The well-populated elimination round Tuesday attracted limited voter interest. Just over 15 percent of the city’s registered voters picked names Tuesday to send to November’s general election, compared to the more than 50 percent participation in last year’s school millage ballot that resulted in long lines and frayed nerves.
The politically charged city hall has been subjected in recent years to a growing budget deficit that is now monitored under a five-year debt elimination plan, and tensions between administration and public safety employees over layoffs and the closing of two fire stations.
Politically, Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand has been at odds with council both in city chambers and Wayne County Circuit Court, which has heard several motions made against the mayor and council on fire safety-related issues.
The results of Tuesday’s balloting — unofficial pending certification by the state board of canvassers — set up the following races for November:
In what promises to be a close November contest, City Councilman Rick Sollars edged out Lamarand by 250 votes and the two will face off in the general election.
Sollars, a manufacturing company owner currently serving his second term on city council, garnered 2,820 votes — more than 42 percent of the ballots — ahead of incumbent Lamarand’s 2,570 (38 percent).
Sollars has previously served on the city’s planning commission, zoning board of appeals and housing authority. Sollars campaigned with an emphasis on restoring public safety positions through grants or other new opportunities, and to seek alternative revenue streams for the city.
Lamarand’s campaign for a second term in office comes near the end of a challenging four years that included recall attempts — one of which failed to gain voter support in 2011 — and court challenges. Lamarand previously served a four-year term on city council, and said he hopes to continue serving to see the completion of the city’s five-year debt-elimination plan.
Sollars and Lamarand will advance to November after topping candidate John Edwards, who attracted 1,239 votes (18 percent) in the runoff election. Edwards, a retired police auxiliary commander, had hoped to bring fresh voices to the city with an emphasis on public safety.
Three candidates Tuesday battled to be among the two names that will face voters in November. Newcomer Edward Bourassa topped the ballot Tuesday with 2,412 votes, narrowly edging out current Council Chairwoman Cheryl Burke, who garnered 2,335 votes.
Finishing third in the voting was current Councilwoman Jacklyn Molner (1,608), who had previously sought the position. Molner’s council seat expires this year.
Bourassa, a lifelong Taylor resident who has worked in personal and business taxes in the public sector, will face off in November against Burke, who is nearing the end of her first term on council.
The treasurer’s office is currently served by former school superintendent Lynn Cleary, who had been appointed last year to complete the term held by Wayne Avery, who had retired in 2011.
Voters were asked to choose seven names from the crowded ballot, and the top 14 vote-getters advance now to the November general election to seat the seven council members.
A diverse and crowded — said to be a record number of candidates — field of 25 would-be council members were narrowed on Tuesday to 14. Only two incumbents — John Delo and Dennis Stapleton — were among the candidates, and both will seek to retain their seats in November along.
The top 14 vote-getters for city council Tuesday were:
Tim Faremouth (2,429), a retired finance administrator; Angela Croft (2,402), who has served as a manager at Wayne County Detroit Metropolitan Airport; Charley Johnson (2,337), owner of Busy Bee Plumbing; Linda Parker-Craig (2,271), currently serving on the city’s planning commission; Alex Garza (2,163), a University of Michigan public administration student); Delo (1,864); Daniel Bzura (1,720), a trustee on the Taylor Police Pension Board; Bob Tompos (1,674), former Taylor fire chief; Herman Ramik (1,658), a retired police officer; Linda Roberts (1,640), former Taylor Public Schools employee; Tim Woolley (1,599), a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars and Taylor Goodfellows; Stapleton (1,595); Tim Witz (1,483), treasurer of Taylor South Little League and Junior League World Series; and Keith Blanchard (1,448), a retired police officer.
The remaining candidates will not be on the November ballot: Jack Haydon (1,426); Steve Toth (1,337); Eric Hall (1,244); Jason Binge (1,213); Justin Mordarski (1,212); Ted Schiebold (1,197); Stephanie Moore (1,191); Doug Reimel (1,101); Mike Carey (837); Avi Lachman (365); and Jack Cyb (178).
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])