101.9 WDET, Detroit’s NPR Station, is committed to providing fair and accurate coverage of the 2020 November presidential election.
But there are a number of local proposals on the ballot as well, including measures regarding oil and gas funding for state parks and a $250 million Detroit blight remediation proposal.
Bookmark this page for WDET’s reporting on local proposals and to contact the newsroom.
2020 WDET Local Ballot Guide
This guide reflects the reporting of the WDET newsroom and will be updated as election season progresses.
Official ballot language: “A proposed constitutional amendment to allow money from oil and gas mining on state-owned lands to continue to be collected in state funds for land protection and creation and maintenance of parks, nature areas, and public recreation facilities; and to describe how money in those state funds can be spent.”
Issue: The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund provides grants to local governments to buy land for recreation and conservation. The State Parks Endowment Fund does just what it says — funds state parks. Both collect royalties from the sale or lease of state-owned oil, gas and mineral rights. The Michigan Oil and Gas Association, which supports Proposal 1, says the industry has contributed more than a billion dollars to the funds since they were established.
By law, at least 25% of the Natural Resources Trust Fund’s annual spending must go toward land purchases. But no more than 25% can be spent on development or renovation of facilities. Proposal 1 would ensure both get at least 25 percent. That change has caused debate among some conservationists.
Supporters: The Michigan Environmental Council, The Nature Conservancy of Michigan, the Detroit Greenways Coalition, Ducks Unlimited, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Michigan Farm Bureau.
“Proposal 1 really helps us ensure that everybody across the state has access—equal access—to recreational opportunites.” — Conan Smith, Michigan Environmental Council
Opponents: Sierra Club of Michigan, The Green Party of Michigan, the Michigan Democratic Party Environmental Caucus and the North Oakland Democratic Club.
“We shouldn’t be making oil and gas drilling and sales decisions based upon whether or not we need the money for a visitors’ center.” — Marvin Roberson, Sierra Club of Michigan.
The initiative is a proposed amendment to the Michigan Constitution that would require a warrant in order to access a resident’s personal communication data. Per the ballot language, it would impose the same requirements on obtaining such information as are currently needed to search a house or seize a person’s property.
If passed, it would make Michigan one of the few states to include protections for electronic information in its constitution.
Opponents of the initiative question how much protection the item can offer. It does not offer protections for biometric or facial recognition data, which are collected under Project Green Light.
Proposal N is a city-led initiative to borrow $250 million in bonds to eliminate blight throughout Detroit. The accrued funds would be allocated to demolish 8,000 dilapidated structures and preserve up to 8,000 salvageable homes.
While supporters of the proposal taught the work hours it would bring to Detroit residents, opponents say there are too many unknowns surrounding the initiative.
“As a renewal of authority which expires with the 2021 levy, shall the limitation on the amount of ad valorem taxes which may be imposed on taxable property in the Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency, Michigan, be increased by 2 mills ($2.00 per thousand dollars of taxable value) for a period of six (6) years, 2022 to 2027, inclusive, to provide operating funds to enhance other state and local funding for local school district operating purposes? It is estimated that 2 mills would raise approximately $90.4 million when first levied in 2022.
The revenue from this millage will be disbursed to public school academies within the boundaries of the Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency which are eligible to receive enhancement millage under the Revised School Code and the following school districts: Allen Park Public Schools, Crestwood School District, Dearborn City School District, Dearborn Heights School District #7, Detroit Public Schools Community District, Ecorse Public School District, Flat Rock Community Schools, School District of the City of Garden City, Gibraltar School District, Grosse Ile Township Schools, The Grosse Pointe Public School System, Hamtramck Public Schools, City of Harper Woods Schools, School District of the City of Highland Park, Huron School District, School District of the City of Lincoln Park, Livonia Public Schools, Melvindale – Northern Allen Park Schools, Northville Public Schools, Plymouth-Canton Community Schools, Redford Union School District, River Rouge School District, Riverview Community School District, Romulus Community Schools, Southgate Community School District, South Redford School District, Taylor School District, Trenton Public Schools, Van Buren Public Schools, Wayne-Westland Community School District, Westwood Community Schools, Woodhaven-Brownstown School District, Wyandotte City School District.”
Two-year terms were “meant to keep local officials more accountable to local voters.” — John Klemanski, Oakland University
Supporters of the measure say it would save the city money — about $75,000 dollars for every skipped election — and align its term lengths with similar-sized cities. It would also allow elected officials time to complete longer-term projects rather than focus on campaigning as often.
The current two-year terms were established to keep politicians accountable, says John Klemanski, a political science professor at Oakland University.
“It was just meant to keep local officials more accountable to local voters, the more regular and frequent elections you have the closer you were to people and the more accountable you were for your actions,” Klemanski says.
“This is about having equal term limits for everyone in the city going forward.” — Patrick Green, Warren City Council president
In 2016 Warren residents voted in favor of a city charter amendment – extending mayoral term limits from three terms to five. That item was added to the ballot based on an opinion of a former city attorney, who believed the language of the charter allowed city council members to run for more than three terms.
However, in 2019 three city council members attempting to run for a fourth term had their names removed from the ballot, following a Michigan Supreme Court ruling against the opinion of the former Warren attorney.
Warren City Council president Patrick Green says because it is now known the mayoral term limit item was added to the 2016 ballot based on bad information, voters will have a chance to undo the change in this year’s general election.