Michigan State University | Susan J. Demas
The Michigan Democratic Party and Michigan Republican Party held state conventions over the weekend and voted on their nominees for the state Board of Education, the Michigan Supreme Court and the managing boards of the state’s three flagship universities.
Candidates will appear on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.
The Michigan State University Board of Trustees has come under scrutiny for its handling of the Larry Nassar scandal. Nassar, a convicted pedophile and former MSU employee, sexually abused hundreds of athletes during his time as a doctor at the university and for USA Gymnastics.
Long-serving Democratic MSU Trustee Joel Ferguson said in mid-August that he won’t be seeking reelection. Ferguson was first elected to MSU’s board in 1986 and won reelection three times. However, in his latest term, he received a flood of criticism for his comments and actions responding to the Nassar scandal.
Seeking another term on the Michigan State University Board of Trustees is Democrat Brian Mosallam, who serves as a financial adviser. He was elected in 2013 and his current term on the board ends in 2021. If Mosallam wins reelection, he’ll stay on the board for another eight years.
The Michigan Democratic Party also nominated former public school teacher and administrator Dr. Rema Vassar to appear on the ballot. Vassar’s daughter attends MSU. She and Mosallam are endorsed by the labor federation the Michigan AFL-CIO.
Pat O’Keefe, founder and CEO of business consulting firm O’Keefe, is one of two candidates nominated for the board by the Michigan GOP. O’Keefe is running on a platform that heavily emphasizes protecting free speech on campus, especially for conservative students.
The GOP’s second nominee for the board is Tonya Schuitmaker, a Michigan State alumna who served as a Republican in the state House of Representatives from 2005 to 2011 and in the state Senate from 2011 to 2018. She unsuccessfully sought the GOP attorney general nomination in 2018.
For the University of Michigan Board of Regents, the Democrats nominated incumbent Mark Bernstein, an attorney who has been on the board since 2012. His brother is Richard Bernstein, who serves as a justice on the Michigan Supreme Court.
Dr. Shauna Diggs, an incumbent who’s also served on the board since 2012, was also chosen by Democrats. Diggs is a dermatologist and the first regent who is a physician. She also chairs the board of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation.
Both Bernstein and Diggs are U of M alumni.
GOP-backed candidates for the Board of Regents include Carl Meyer, an U of M-Dearborn alumnus and former chair of the Michigan Republican Party, as well as Sarah Hubbard, a longtime lobbyist who bills herself as anti-abortion and pro-Second Amendment. She’s also an alumna of the university.
The Nov. 3 election will also decide who’s on Wayne State University’s Board of Governors. The MDP selected incumbent Shirley Stancato, a social justice advocate and race relations expert who was first appointed to the board by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in late 2019.
The MDP also selected Eva Garza Dewaelsche, who’s currently the president and CEO of SER Metro-Detroit Jobs for Progress.
On the Republican side, former board member Diane Dunaskiss, who lost reelection in 2018, is seeking another term. And Don Gates, a retired Army colonel, is the party’s second nominee.
Each party also announced nominees for the state Board of Education, the managing board that governs the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), which oversees the state’s K-12 public schools.
Democratic candidates include Ellen Cogen Lipton, who served in the state House from 2009 to 2015, and Jason Strayhorn, a realtor and former MSU football player, reporter and analyst.
Republican candidates include Tami Carlone, who is running a platform to “Make MI Schools Great Again,” and Michelle Frederick, who bills herself as a Christian conservative and currently serves on Michigan’s Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC).
Although Michigan Supreme Court candidates appear on the nonpartisan part of the ballot, the parties nominate candidates.
One seat is open because GOP-nominated Justice Stephen Markman cannot run again because of age limits barring those 70 or older from being elected or appointed to the bench.
The MDP nominated incumbent Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, who was first elected in 2012. Attorney Elizabeth Welch will also appear on the ballot, seeking her first term on the court.
Republicans nominated Brock Swartzle, a judge of the Michigan 4th District Court of Appeals appointed in 2017 by former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. They also nominated longtime lawyer Mary Kelly, who worked for 30 years in the St. Clair County prosecutor’s office.
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