In Oakland County last week, all of the various school board candidates backed by the 20/20 political action committees went down in defeat.

After seeing the four candidates they backed get rejected by voters, the PACs, which were the subject of a recent Metro Times story (“Double vision,” Metro Times, April 20), were attempting to view the losses in Bloomfield Hills, Rochester and Farmington through, shall we say, rose-colored glasses.

The groups — along with a newly formed 20/20 PAC in Royal Oak — claim no formal ties, only a linked ideology that seems to consist mostly of vague catchphrases like “financial accountability” by school boards and “improved academic standards” without many specifics to indicate how they would achieve those elusive goals.

The original 20/20 PAC, formed to influence school board elections in Bloomfield Hills School District, saw incumbent Jenny Greenwell get voted out of office.

“I realized we had a well-organized and -funded opposition against us,” Greenwell says. “The unions just wanted an annual pay raise commensurate with nothing. I’m really proud to say 3,500 people voted for me.”

Make that 3,408 votes. Creighton Forester, the other BH 20/20 candidate, did even worse, with 3,059 votes. Compare that to the 5,373 votes garnered by Martin Brook, and fellow victor Mary Ellen Miller, who received 6,624 votes.

Bloomfield Hills School Board President Cynthia von Oeyen says she hopes this will now be a time of healing. Since Bloomfield Hills 20/20 has formed, she says, there have been bitter divisions within the school district.

“I’m hoping we can now have some meaningful dialogue,” she says. “I’m hoping the 20/20s will focus more on the issues, and do so in a less toxic atmosphere.”

Tim Greimel, president of the Rochester School Board, was elected to a second four-year term despite 20/20’s opposition. “Obviously the election was a real day for those of us who believe in public education,” he says.

In the Rochester district, 20/20’s candidates were defeated by a margin of more than two-to-one.

Nonetheless, Bob Sharp, executive director of the Rochester 20/20, has an upbeat take on things.

“What we found encouraging,” he says, “was that all four candidates rallied around issues that 20/20 members considered important, such as fiscal responsibility and academic accountability.”

Keep those catchphrases coming, kids.

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]
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