Election Eve thoughts

Mayor of Grand Rapids:
A poll published in the Grand Rapids Press had Heartwell at 44%, Tormala at 25%, GRPS Board Member/2006 Congressional nominee Jim Rinck at 8%, and Jackie Miller at 2%, with 20% undecided and 1% refusing to answer. If we are to believe this poll, Heartwell has less than half the vote, which would force a runoff with Tormala. However, Heartwell has more than half of the vote (about 55% or so) amongst people who have settled on a candidate.

Two common rules of thumb are that (a) the incumbent usually has an advantage and (b) undecideds often end up breaking 2-1 for the challenger(s). In that case, if Heartwell attracts 1/3 of the undecided vote, that would give him roughly 51% - just barely enough to win outright. But again, this was just one poll; had other polls been taken, perhaps this would be seen as an outlier.

Grand Rapids City Commission:
On the GR City Commission, three candidates are vying for the right to replace likely 2008 State House candidate Roy Schmidt in the First Ward. They are businessmen Walt Gutowski and Ed Kettle, and former County Commissioner and 2006 Drain Commissioner candidate Tom Postmus (R). Meanwhile, four candidates are seeking to succeed Tormala in Ward 2: Michael Booker, community activist Ruth Kelly, former County Commissioner Dan Koorndyk (R), and businessman/2006 State Senate candidate David LaGrand (for whom I did a literature drop over the weekend).

Grand Rapids Community College:
The Grand Rapids Community College millage is the only thing on the ballot in Kentwood this election. It failed by just a few hundred votes in May. This time it has a couple more things going for it, among them a lower request - .49 mills vs. .56 mills requested in May - just might catch a few more voters who were a bit squeamish about supporting the first millage but would support a slightly smaller increase.

Moreover, expect higher turnout in Grand Rapids and lower turnout elsewhere in the county. Unlike most of the rest of Kent County, Grand Rapids voters did not have a school board election to in May; this likely contributed to lower turnout in GR, a city where a majority of voters supported the GRCC millage. This time around, however, turnout will likely be higher in GR, with multiple races on the ballot, while few communities outside GR will have primaries for offices this Tuesday. That said, I’m going to hedge my bets and say that it will only pass by a narrow margin.

Letters to the Editor
I did an informal survey of Letters to the Editor over the past couple of weeks tallying how many such letters supported each candidate. The unofficial results:

Tormala: 17
Heartwell: 5

Ward 1:
Gutowski: 7
Kettle: 6
Postmus: 3

Ward 2:
LaGrand: 14
Kelly: 9
Koorndyk: 4
Booker: 1

GRCC Millage:
Yes: 15
No: 9

Heartwell 48%, Tormala 38%, Rinck 11%, Miller 3%.
Gutowski 38%, Kettle 34%, Postmus 28%.
Kelly 39%, LaGrand 37%, Koorndyk 19%, Booker 5%.
GRCC millage: 53% Yes.
Turnout: 20.4% in Grand Rapids, 7.6% in Kentwood, 13.4% through Kent County.

Happy voting!

PS: Warren has six candidates for Mayor, five for City Treasurer, four for City Clerk, and 42 individuals seeking nine City Council seats!

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