By Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
Shiawassee County voters came out in large numbers Tuesday, March 8 to vote in the presidential primary election, with over 35 percent of the county’s eligible voters casting ballots. Nearly 19,000 voters participated Tuesday, compared to the 12,628 who voted in the Aug. 7, 2012 primary. The high voter turnout can be partly attributed to this being a presidential election year, but voters were also eager to have their say in deciding the county’s two ballot questions, with both the Byron Sinking Fund and the 9-1-1 Central Dispatch ballot questions being approved.
The 9-1-1 ballot question was approved by a 58.94 percent to 41.06 percent margin, which increases the monthly per-phone surcharge from $1.22 to $2.65. The additional resources will fund the county’s new emergency texting services, which the county would have had to implement, with or without the surcharge increase. Shiawassee Central Dispatch Board member Deb Doyle was excited the proposal was approved.
“This is a great day for the county,” Doyle said Wednesday. “I am glad that people see the need for 9-1-1 services in our county. People will like the new texting capabilities. There is just so much potential for good. This will help deaf people and anyone who is not in a position to call for help. And since 9-1-1 is not supported by county taxes, it was imperative that this passed.”
Byron Area School officials used every resource at their disposal to get voters the correct information in advance of the election. They joined in a lawsuit that brought an injunction of Public Act 269, which sought to prohibit elected and school officials from providing information to voters of local ballot proposals within 60 days of an election. The Invest In Byron committee used school buses Tuesday to transport any school parents to polling stations in an effort to increase voting numbers in their community. The Sinking Fund ballot question, which sought a two-year extension of the district’s three-mill Sinking Fund, was denied twice previously by Byron voters before being approved by a 52.99 to 47.01 percent margin on Tuesday. The district will use the approved funds to add heating ventilation units to its schools to complete the overhaul of its heating and cooling systems. The funds will also allow the district to finish remodeling three high school science labs.