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Home News  Washington to take over Hewitt’s seat in 1st Ward
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Wednesday, November 9,2011

Washington to take over Hewitt’s seat in 1st Ward

by Andy Balaskovitz

At 9:30 Tuesday night, Jody Washington
reflected on her 1st Ward campaign as votes were still being tallied.
“I learned a lot about local politics. One day I picked up the phone
and it was Virg Bernero on a robo call trashing me,” she laughed.


At 10:30 p.m., the mayor walked into the
Green Door Blues Bar on Lansing’s east side — where Washington was
celebrating a victory over Lynne Martinez — to congratulate her. “It
was not against Jody but more for Lynne,” Bernero said of the robo
call. “I’m looking forward to working with Jody. … I’ve known Jody for
years — it’s not as if she’s a stranger.”


And so marks the end of the campaign for
northeast Lansing’s new City Council ward representative. Washington,
55, beat Martinez, 63, by a narrow 88 votes, unofficial results showed
by 10:15 p.m. Tuesday night. Washington begins her term Jan. 1.


After placing second to Martinez in the
Aug. 2 primary by 57 votes, Washington pulled ahead Tuesday by taking
six of 11 precincts. More important, though, were absentee voters:
Washington took home 114 more absentee votes than Martinez did.
Martinez narrowly won over absentee voters in the primary.


An even 19 percent of 1st Ward voters turned out Tuesday. Unofficial results show Washington won 1,826 to 1,738.


“I think I’m still a little bit in
shock,” Martinez said shortly after announcing her defeat at the Soup
Spoon Café, a half-mile from Washington’s election party. “I knew I had
to be ready for anything.”


Washington was in “disbelief” upon
hearing the results Tuesday night, surrounded by about a dozen
supporters, mostly family members. “I’m very excited to serve in this
community.”


Washington said she began exploring a
run for Council “about a year ago. Initially it was because I was upset
with (incumbent) Eric Hewitt. Since then I got to know him.” Hewitt
displayed a Washington campaign sign in his front yard throughout the
election. “That speaks a lot of truth. I was one of his biggest
critics.”


Ingham County Treasurer Eric Schertzing,
who donated $125 to Martinez’s campaign, was one of more than 30
supporters at Martinez’s party Tuesday. “I think the 1st Ward has
struggled with its ward person for the last four years. I hope Jody can
rise above the pettiness and do what’s right for the city,” he said. 


The last few weeks of the 1st Ward and
At-Large races marked a clear divide between labor-backed (Washington)
and Chamber of Commerce-backed (Martinez) candidates.


“The race got more divisive than I hoped
it would be,” Martinez said. “The powers that be saw a benefit in
seeing a world of dichotomy.”


When asked if she had any regrets from
the campaign, Washington said: “No — I wouldn’t have done anything
differently. I think I ran a good campaign.” 


As for those who voted against her Tuesday, Washington said: “They can expect I’ll work for them.”

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