NOTA millage renewal passes decisively
By Jim Newell
OAKLAND COUNTY — The Aug. 2 Primary mid-term elections saw relatively low voter participation across Oakland County and in Orion Township.
Across Oakland County, only 30 percent of registered voters participated in the primary election, according to the Oakland County Clerk’s Office. Of the county’s 1,034,171 registered voters only 310,634 cast ballots across all 511 precincts this election.
In Orion Township across all 15 precincts, precinct 9 had the lowest voter participation with 24.85 percent of registered voters casting ballots, while precinct 6 had the highest participation with 39.13 percent.
In the Village of Lake Orion (precinct 2), only 29.27 percent of the 2,463 registered voters cast ballots.
Below are the millage and candidate race results that were on Orion Township ballots. All vote totals are from the Oakland County Clerk’s Office unofficial election results and represent only Oakland County voters.
North Oakland Transportation Authority (NOTA) Millage Renewal
The only proposal on the ballot in Orion Township was the North Oakland Transportation Authority Millage Renewal, a five-year millage renewal request from voters in Orion, Oxford and Addison townships.
Orion voters were asked to approve 0.2316 of one mill to be levied from 2024 through 2028. It’s estimated the tax will generate $490,776 in its first year.
One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of a property’s taxable value. So, for Orion residents with a home taxable value of $100,000, that’s $23.16 a year. That’s $1.93 per month.
NOTA provides low-cost, publicly-subsidized transportation for senior citizens, individuals with physical and/or developmental disabilities, and low-income residents of Oxford, Addison and Orion townships along with the villages of Oxford, Leonard and Lake Orion.
“Many people will say, ‘But I don’t use NOTA, why should I support it?’ There are many riders who used to drive, have jobs and did not need NOTA until circumstances in their life changed – accidents/illness, etc., and it could happen to anyone,” said NOTA Director Lynn Gustafson. “At any moment, you or your loved one could be in a position to need transportation and I hope NOTA will be there for you when you need it.”
NOTA currently has a millage that runs through 2023, but Gustafson said she wanted to get the proposal on the ballot before a request to approve a regional transportation authority. She also said the NOTA would have to pay election costs in 2023 if there wasn’t anything else on the ballot.
Last year, the local transportation service provided a total of 34,619 rides. Those numbers are up 28 percent from 2020, but down from pre-pandemic numbers when NOTA provided more than 40,000 rides in 2018 and 2019.
In the first five months of 2022, NOTA has given 15,338 rides. NOTA drivers also operate the trolley service between downtown Lake Orion and Oxford, providing another 2,277 rides to anyone who wants to use the service.
The millage renewal request – which had to pass in Orion, Oxford and Addison townships – passed decisively in all three communities.
In Orion Township, 5,838 voters (68.9 percent) across all of Orion’s 15 precincts supported renewing NOTA’s millage while 2,635 (31.1 percent) opposed the measure.
In Addison Township, voters passed the millage with 1,315 (69.4 percent) supporting the renewal and 579 (30.57 percent) opposed.
In Oxford Township, 3,603 ballots (69.6 percent) were cast in support of the renewal while 1,574 (30.4 percent) voted against.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ran uncontested in the Democratic Primary and received 170,746 votes from Oakland County residents. There were 434 unassigned write-in votes.
On the Republican ticket, Tudor M. Dixon received 55,764 votes from Oakland County residents; Ryan D. Kelley got 15,191 votes; Ralph Rebandt received 4,571 votes; Kevin Rinke had 29,091 votes, Garrett Soldano got 13,240 votes. There were 6,968 unassigned write-in votes.
In the Nov. 8 General Election, Whitmer will take on Dixon, who won the vote nomination statewide.
Representative in Congress – 9th District
Incumbent Lisa McClain easily won the Republican primary race against Michelle R. Donovan. McClain took 25,041 votes in Oakland County to Donovan’s 6,612 votes.
She will take on Democrat Brian Jaye in the general election.
The 9th Congressional District includes all of Orion Township.
State Senator – 24th District
Republican Ruth Johnson and Democrat Theresa J. Foungie both ran unopposed in their respective primary elections. Foungie received 7,305 votes in the Democratic Primary, while Johnson received 13,279 votes from the Republican side. They will go head-to-head in the general election.
State Representative – 54th District
Shadia Martini of Bloomfield Township won the Democratic Primary for state representative taking 3,785 (39.21 percent) votes. She defeated Stephanie Fakih (3,401 votes; 35.24 percent) and Gary Gerson (2,451 votes, 25.39 percent). There were 15 unassigned write-in votes.
On the Republican side, Orion Township Treasurer Donni Steele bested newcomer Sandy Kiesel of Lake Orion to win the primary. Steel received 5,992 votes (57.44 percent) to Kiesel’s 4,415 votes (42.33 percent). There were 24 unassigned write-ins.
Steele, of Orion Township, will now face off against Martini in the general election.
County Commissioner – 6th District
Incumbent Michael J. Gingell earned 5,905 votes (67.63 percent) to challenger Heather Smiley’s 2,811 votes (32.2 percent). There were 15 unassigned write-in votes.
Democrat Sarah B. Pounds ran uncontested and received 5,890 votes (99.8 percent). There were 12 unassigned write-in votes.
Gingell and Pounds will square off in the general election.
The 6th District includes Orion Township, the Village of Lake Orion and portions of Oakland Township and the City of Rochester Hills.
Other Local Candidate Elections for November
Lake Orion Village Council
There are four seats up for election this year in a hotly contested village council race.
The top three vote-getters win four-year terms on the council and the fourth-place candidate earns a two-year term.
The seats up for election are currently held by council President Ken Van Portfliet and council members Teresa Rutt, Doug Hobbs and Brad Mathisen.
All incumbents are seeking re-election and long-time residents Nancy Moshier and Carl Cyrowski are challenging for two seats.
Lake Orion Community Schools Board of Education
There are three seats up for election, each for a four-year term on the school board. School board President Jim Weidman, Treasurer Jake Singer and Secretary Steve Drakos are up for election.
Drakos and Singer are seeking re-election and will be on the ballot running against Thomas F. Daniels, Amie Gamache and Heather Sinawi.