The Grosse Pointe Public School System is comprised of five cities (the Pointes) and part of a sixth (Harper Woods). It’s been that way for decades and the community takes that for granted in many respects – or painfully reminds us. (Unite the Farms, anyone?)
The North end / South end thing is indeed a thing of sorts. While some look with disdain or cast this thing aside with a trite phrase, the 2014 school board vote demonstrates mathematically that the difference between the two ends of the district is real.
While Margaret Weertz gained a seat on the Board this week, if the the South end had its own board of education, she would have lost and Cynthia Sohn would have won. Weertz overall top 3 finish is attributable mainly to her Woods success where she beat Sohn by over 1,100 votes. Her message didn’t play too well down South.
The message Cynthia Sohn brought to the campaign resonated strongly with the South end. The newly configured Board of Education, when seated in January 2015, ought to take note of this.The board really ought to endeavor to resolve why the South end cities’ perspective is so different from the North end’s.
Speaking of unity, this breakdown also demonstrates that Summerfield and Ismail would have won in both these hypothetical districts. That matters, like it (or Ismail) or not – particularly in light of this past election cycle and “the slates.”
I was puzzled from the get go on why Weertz, Summerfield and Howlett chose to formalize their campaign. Their responses to repeated questions about it rang hollow and were really counter to their own calls for unity.
Why? Because their alignment was really designed to block Ismail from winning… and it didn’t work. I make this claim mainly because Sohn’s candidacy was the square peg to the slate’s approach. By almost any objective view, she would be a great trustee. Why go out of their way to block her? Well, apparently because she was thought to be aligned with Ismail. And that’s who the district establishment – including members of the board and staff – really did not want to see win.
Well, he won. Now we’ll see whether the call for unity was real and genuine or a pandering campaign slogan. Hint: We’re not off to a great start.
What I will call “The Ismail Factor” is a topic worth more attention and I will write more about it. I have some experience there having known Ahmed Ismail for years and having served on the Board with him.
For now, we know that Ismail’s reputation (good and bad) precedes him. We know that this past campaign was influenced in large part to block Ismail’s candidacy. We know that despite that effort, Ismail’s candidacy was well received by both the North and South end of the district – more balanced than even Margaret Weertz’s candidacy.
All that matters because we’re talking about the voice of the voting community. The same voices (votes) that entrusted this board with $25 million annually in renewed millages also believes Ismail is worthy of their trust and that Sohn should have represented the South end of the community.