DETROIT – Election Day is right around the corner and there are nine times as many candidates for Detroit school board seats as there are seats available.
With a total of 63 candidates running for just seven school board seats, Detroiters will have a difficult time learning about their qualifications.
Most of the candidates do not have campaign websites or Facebook pages, leaving voters with few options to educate themselves about whom they are electing. Twenty candidates were selected at random to see how many had sites set up. Only seven of the 20 had campaign sites and one of them didn’t even work.
Only 25 of the 63 candidates filled out the candidate questionnaire form on the Detroit Public Schools website that would give more information about their potential representatives.
Voters were blindsided when Local 4's Guy Gordon showed them the length of the ballot. They didn't know the names on the list, or what the candidates were running for.
Education leaders are deeply concerned, since this is the first time in seven years residents have had a voice in who runs their schools.
"Am I supposed to know these people?" Maulana Horton asked.
"Wow. This is ridiculous," Andrea James said. "I had no idea."
"I don't think it's fair," Keamya Willard said. "It breeds a lot of confusion."
Voters said they've received no mailers and no contact through schools or churches.
"Nothing came in the mail about these people here," Horton said.
Fewer than a third of the 63 candidates have a campaign website. Most rely on Facebook. The school district's website has a page dedicated to the race, but fewer than half of candidates have bothered to fill out the district's questionnaire.
"Maybe they're not that interested," Horton said.
Voters might have to rely on name recognition, which they said isn't the best option in getting new leadership.
"Because all these seats are citywide, it's nearly impossible for voters to be educated about all of them and so name recognition plays a factor than it otherwise should," Dan Verner, of Excellent Schools Detroit, said.