The stakes were high Nov. 3 as greater Farmington area residents flocked to the polls to cast their ballots and thousands of absentee votes could finally be counted, but who will become the next United States president wasn’t the only race residents were likely paying attention to.
As topics like COVID-19; diversity, equity and inclusion; and enhancing curriculum have been at the forefront for Farmington Public Schools, all eyes have been on the Board of Education, which has been tasked with directing those discussions and making difficult choices.
Voters Nov. 3 had the chance to choose who would fill the three seats left by term-expired board members Jessica Cummings, Terry Johnson and Richard Mukamal.
Mukamal, who was appointed to fill a vacancy on the board in 2019, was the only board member who sought re-election. Cummings and Johnson were both elected in 2014.
Despite the cities’ clerk’s offices needing the overnight hours to tabulate all ballots, given the record turnout this year, the results are finally in. Voters chose candidates Cheryl Blau and Mable Fox to fill two six-year terms, and Claudia Heinrich to fill a two-year term that will expire Dec. 31, 2022.
The three candidates will be sworn in at the Jan. 5, 2021, Board of Education meeting.
According to unofficial Oakland County election results, Blau pulled ahead to receive the largest number, 13,945 votes, or 21.95%. Fox received 21.01%, or 13,352 votes. Steven Goldberg was the next closest candidate in contention for an open seat, with 18.67%, or 11,862 votes. Mukamal was not re-elected.
Of the candidates vying for the two-year term, Heinrich took the lead by a large margin against opponents Kevin Hammer and Donald Walker. Heinrich received 41.11%, or 4,761 votes, while Hammer and Walker received 31.51% and 26.59% of votes, respectively.
With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to affect voters in Michigan, many voters took advantage of voting absentee for this election.
Of the 63,543 total votes cast for the two open six-year term seats, 48,299 were cast by absentee ballot and 15,244 were cast at the polls on Election Day. The one two-year term seat saw 11,580 total votes, 2,769 of which were absentee ballots and 8,811 were polling location votes.
As all three newly elected women prepare to take their seats among their new colleagues, one perspective they’ll all bring is their experience in education.
Blau, 58, has been a Farmington resident for 34 years. She holds a doctorate degree in educational leadership, master’s degrees in education and psychology, and a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and education. She currently works as a teacher and has completed post-doctoral work in cognitive neuroscience, curriculum development and instructional design.
Fox, 67, has been a Farmington Hills resident for 23 years. She holds a master’s degree in education and a bachelor’s degree in political science. She currently works as an education technology consultant.
Heinrich, 66, has been a Farmington Hills resident for 45 years. She holds a master’s degree in mathematics and a bachelor’s degree in education. She is a retired teacher.
The three new candidates not only bring shared experience in education to the table, but similar goals as well.
The three candidates’ top goals ranged from addressing diversity, equity and inclusion in the district, to better implementing those topics into the curriculum. They also advocated for building curriculum that provides equal opportunities for all students and ability levels. Heinrich hopes to focus on helping students develop their post-secondary plans. Blau also ran on making the Board of Education more accessible and responsive to the community’s needs.
For more Oakland County election results, visit oakgov.com/elections.