Stories indexed with the term ‘Washtenaw County Clerk’

Dascola Mistakenly Left Off Absentee Ballot

After winning a federal lawsuit to secure the right to be placed on the Ward 3 Ann Arbor city council Democratic primary ballot, Bob Dascola’s name was inadvertently omitted from the first wave of absentee ballots sent out to voters. The Washtenaw County clerk’s office was alerted to the problem on the morning of June 27, 2014.

Ed Golembiewski, chief deputy county clerk and elections director, spoke with The Chronicle by phone and said that corrected ballots were currently being printed and would be provided to the city clerk’s office by noon on Monday, June 30 for mailing. The exact wording of the letter to voters accompanying the corrected ballots was being worked out by the county and city clerk’s … [Full Story]

Washtenaw: Marriage

Several media outlets report on marriage licenses issued in Michigan, including Washtenaw County, on Saturday, March 22 – following a federal court ruling the previous day that struck down Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. WEMU reports from the Washtenaw County administration building in downtown Ann Arbor, where more than a dozen wedding officiants were performing ceremonies. [Source] The Detroit News quotes Martin Contreras, who married Keith Orr, his partner of 27 years – they own and run the \aut\ bar in Ann Arbor: “I never thought it would happen in my lifetime. It’s indescribable. I never expected we could get this far.” [Source] Heritage Media published a series of photos from the crowd. [Source]

Washtenaw: Marriage

The Detroit Free Press reports that the Washtenaw County clerk’s office will open on Saturday, March 22, to issue 60 same-sex marriage licenses, in the wake of Friday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman that struck down Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. County clerk Larry Kestenbaum: “We’re not typically open, but basically the Board of Commissioners strongly urged me to be open tomorrow.” Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed an emergency motion requesting a stay on Friedman’s ruling. [Source]

County OKs Marriage License “Fee Holiday”

A proposal giving authority to the Washtenaw County clerk/register of deeds office to reduce the fee for expediting marriage licenses under certain circumstances – from $50 to 1 cent – was approved by the county board of commissioners at its Feb. 19, 2014 meeting. The vote was 5-1, with dissent by Kent Martinez-Kratz. Three commissioners – Felicia Brabec (D-District 4) Alicia Ping (R-District 3), and Rolland Sizemore Jr. (D-District 5) – were absent.

Currently, the $50 fee is charged if applicants want to waive the statutory three-day marriage license waiting period. The resolution passed on Feb. 19 allows the county clerk, consulting with the county administrator, to establish a ”fee holiday” on the day preceding a period during which the office’s vital records … [Full Story]

Staff Increase OK’d in County Clerk’s Office

An increase in staff for the Washtenaw County clerk/register of deeds office – primarily to handle an increase in processing passports and concealed pistol license applications – was given final approval by county commissioners at their Aug. 7, 2013 meeting.

The change involves creating a full-time administrative coordinator position from a job that’s currently part-time (a 0.64 full-time equivalent position). The total cost for that full-time position is estimated at $56,902 – or an additional $15,631 in general fund support. It’s expected that a decrease in the need for temporary workers will help offset the payroll increase, as will a projected surplus in license and permit revenue. According to a staff memo, that revenue is expected to exceed projections by at … [Full Story]

More Staff Requested for County Clerk

Initial approval for a modest increase in staff for the Washtenaw County clerk/register of deeds office – primarily to handle an increase in processing passports and concealed pistol license applications – was granted by county commissioners at their July 10, 2013 meeting.

The change involves creating a full-time administrative coordinator position from a job that’s currently part-time (an 0.64 full-time equivalent position). The total cost for that full-time position is estimated at $56,902 – or an additional $15,631 in general fund support. It’s expected that a decrease in the need for temporary workers will help offset the payroll increase, as will a projected surplus in license and permit revenue. According to a staff memo, that revenue is expected to exceed projections … [Full Story]

Kestenbaum Flies Solo in Candidate Forum

Incumbent Democrat Larry Kestenbaum, who was first elected to the job of Washtenaw County clerk/register of deeds in 2004, was the only candidate for that office to appear at the Oct. 8 forum organized by the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area.

Larry Kestenbaum

Democrat Larry Kestenbaum is the current Washtenaw County clerk/register of deeds. The Ann Arbor resident faces Republican challenger Stan Watson on Nov. 6. Citing illness, Watson did not attend the Oct. 8 candidate forum. (Photos by the writer.)

The Republican candidate, Stan Watson of Ann Arbor, did not attend the event. League president Nancy Schewe, who moderated the forum, reported that Watson wasn’t feeling well and had sent his apologies. In these situations, the league invokes its “empty chair” policy and allows the candidate who attended to answer questions.

So in a brief session lasting about 15 minutes, Kestenbaum fielded six questions, including some on voter fraud, election reform and county redistricting.

Information about both Kestenbaum and Watson, including brief answers to four questions about their background and approach to the job, can be found on the League of Women Voters Vote 411 website. Kestenbaum also has a campaign website. The clerk/register of deeds is elected to a four-year term.

The Oct. 8 candidate forum was held at the studios of Community Television Network, and will be available online via CTN’s video-on-demand service. It was the last of three forums on Monday evening. Others covered the races for county treasurer and water resources commissioner. The full schedule of candidate forums this week is on the league’s website. The forums are broadcast live on CTN’s Channel 19 starting at 7 p.m.

Oct. 9 is the last day to register to vote for the Tuesday, Nov. 6 general election. Information on voter registration can be found on the Washtenaw County clerk’s elections division website. To see a sample ballot for your precinct, visit the Secretary of State’s website. The league’s website also includes a range of information on national, state and local candidates and ballot issues, and a “build my ballot” feature. [Full Story]

Data Merge Problem Snags Washtenaw Results

Responding to a telephoned query from The Chronicle, Washtenaw County clerk’s staff explained a disparity between result totals indicated on the county’s website for countywide races in the Aug. 7 election primary, compared with the actual totals that can be obtained by performing the arithmetic sums of precinct results. For example, the total indicated  on the election result website for 22nd circuit court judge candidate Jim Fink is 13,208, but the sum of the Fink column on the webpage is actually 11,717. All candidates totals, including those for Carol Kuhnke, Doug McClure and Erane Washington, show similar disparities.

According to the clerk’s staff, the disparity was due to a problem with merging the data for in-person ballots and absentee ballots for precincts in Ypsilanti … [Full Story]

County Clerk to Issue Photo IDs for Veterans

Washtenaw County commissioners approved a proposal from county clerk Larry Kestenbaum that allows the clerk’s office to issue veteran photo ID cards for a $10 fee. The vote occurred at the county board’s Aug. 1, 2012 meeting.

According to a staff memo, county clerks in Michigan are permitted to record military discharge certificates for veterans. Those certificates – called DD-214s – are bulky and can’t be carried around easily. A veteran’s ID card would serve the same purpose, allowing veterans to show more easily a proof of service – to take advantage of discounts for veterans offered by businesses. The memo notes that $10 photo IDs are currently offered in Livingston, Oakland and Macomb counties.

The $10 fee would cover the cost of … [Full Story]

Borregard Off Ballot in County Board Race

In the District 2 race for Washtenaw County board of commissioners, Democrat Eric Borregard will be removed from the ballot in District 2, leaving Republican incumbent Dan Smith unchallenged by any partisan candidates in the primary and general elections.

The decision came after the state Bureau of Elections indicated late Friday afternoon that a determination made by county clerk Larry Kestenbaum earlier in the week was inappropriate. Ed Golembiewski, chief deputy county clerk and elections director, told The Chronicle on Saturday that Borregard had been apprised of the situation, and will be officially informed in writing on Monday, when his name will be removed from the list of candidates on the county’s election website.

Dan Smith

Republican Dan Smith, shown here chairing the May 16 meeting of the Washtenaw County board's ways & means committee, represents District 2 on the board of commissioners. He will be the only candidate on the ballot in District 2 for the Aug. 7 primary. (Photo by the writer.)

Borregard, a Dexter resident, had originally filed to run in District 1, which is the current district in which he resides. However, because of redistricting that takes effect for the upcoming election, his home will be located in the new District 2. Shortly after the 4 p.m. filing deadline on Tuesday, May 15, the county clerk’s office was alerted to this error by Kent Martinez-Kratz, a Democrat who’s running in District 1 against incumbent Republican Rob Turner. Acting to correct what he deemed a clerical error, Kestenbaum, a Democrat, approved an amendment to Borregard’s paperwork to allow him to appear on the District 2 ballot.

On Friday afternoon at 2 p.m., Kestenbaum told The Chronicle that he had talked with the county’s corporation counsel [Curtis Hedger] earlier in the week, as well as to staff in the state Bureau of Elections, and that he was comfortable that the change was within his authority to make. He said it was important not to create barriers to running for office. “There’s no trickery here,” he said.

Later that afternoon, Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams told The Chronicle that staff were reviewing the situation and would potentially weigh on in it early next week. The Bureau of Elections is a division of the office of Secretary of State, a position held by Republican Ruth Johnson.

But just a few minutes before 5 p.m. on Friday, an official from the Bureau of Elections contacted the county clerk’s office, according to Golembiewski. The state’s view is that it was not appropriate to accept changes to the filing after the 4 p.m. deadline. As a result, Borregard’s name will not appear on the ballot. Kestenbaum left town Friday afternoon to attend an out-of-state funeral over the weekend and could not be reached. Golembiewski said that Kestenbaum had previously indicated he would abide by the state Bureau of Elections decision.

Borregard, who ran for county commissioner in 2010 but was defeated in the Democratic primary, has the option of challenging the decision in court. He could also choose to run as an independent in the Nov. 6 general election – the filing deadline for candidates who are not affiliated with a political party is July 19 at 4 p.m.

In another county board race, two Ypsilanti Township candidates who had previously filed to run for the commissioner seat in District 5 – Rick Roe and Michael White – have withdrawn from that Aug. 7 primary race. The deadline to withdraw was 4 p.m. Friday, May 18. That leaves incumbent Democrat Rolland Sizemore Jr. unchallenged in the primary.

For a list of county candidates in the Aug. 7 primary election, see Chronicle coverage: “Last Minute Filings: Washtenaw County Races.” [Full Story]

Fee Hike OK’d for Expedited Marriage Licenses

At its July 6, 2011 meeting, the Washtenaw County board of commissioners approved the adoption of a $50 fee for waiving the statutory three-day marriage license waiting period. According to a staff memo, the current waiver fee of $5 does not cover the costs of the Washtenaw County Clerk and Register of Deeds in “interrupting other services to immediately fulfill a marriage license waiver request.”

This brief was filed from the boardroom of the county administration building at 220 N. Main St. in Ann Arbor. A more detailed report will follow: [link]

Election Night in Washtenaw County

Behind the county clerk's counter on election night, inspecting poll books from the city of Ann Arbor. Only Ann Arbor uses pink paper – all others are white. No one at the clerk's office knows why. From left: Ward Beauchamp, Jason Brooks, Jen Beauchamp, Janna Parmeter. (Photo by the writer.)

It’s a few minutes after 8 p.m. on Nov. 3, and polls throughout Washtenaw County have just closed. At this point it’s fairly quiet in the offices of the county clerk, where about a half dozen people are preparing for what could be a long night of processing election returns.

Matt Yankee, the deputy clerk in charge of elections, is drinking a Diet Coke and fielding questions about what needs to be done. Jason Brooks, another deputy clerk, asks how he can help. “Why don’t you do the phones and be an Ann Arbor runner?” Yankee suggests. Brooks gives a mock salute, and almost on cue, the phone rings.

The premiere of the ABC series “V” is playing on a large screen TV in the office – a ticker of election results from metro Detroit is running along the bottom of the screen – but nobody is watching.

The Chronicle spent several hours on election night shadowing this crew, getting a glimpse of what it takes to handle the returns from 116 precincts in Washtenaw County. Though there were a few glitches – mostly problems stemming from the printing company hired to make the ballots – the evening is remarkable for its organized, systematic execution of tasks. Elections are events in which the uneventful is desired.

That’s not to say that nothing happened. [Full Story]

UM, Pfizer Cross the Ts in Property Sale

The momentous mixed with the mundane on Tuesday, as a phalanx of attorneys and real estate professionals converged on the Washtenaw County Clerk/Register of Deeds office to file paperwork for Pfizer’s sale of its Ann Arbor property to the University of Michigan.

At the counter of the county clerks office on Main Street,

From right: At the counter of the county clerk’s office on Main Street, senior clerk Susan Bracken Case reviews documents from UM’s purchase of the Pfizer property, while chief deputy clerk Jim Dries, Liberty Title co-president Tom Richardson and Liberty Title vice president Matt Keir look on.

Because documents for the sale of Chrysler’s Chelsea Proving Grounds were also filed that day in a separate transaction – a coincidence of timing – it marked the largest amount of transfer tax ever recorded in a single day for the county. Neither the purchase prices nor the taxes paid for those deals were disclosed. (See the end of this article for more information about how the real estate transfer tax works.) But for the Pfizer sale, the check received by the county was enough to make senior clerk Susan Bracken Case gasp, then grin. [Full Story]