As promised, here is my elections blog. This is for Ingham County. I will do my best to provide information about the races that you may not know about. This blog is really long...sorry about that! If you want to see the official candidate and proposal list, you can click here.
The top of the ticket is Mayor Virg Bernero (D) vs. businessman Rick Snyder (R). I assume you know all you want to know about this race, so I will move on.
For Attorney General, the race is between Prosecutor David Leyton (D) and Bill Schuette (R). Layton is the Prosecutor in Genesee County and is a former county commissioner. Mr. Schuette is a former Appeals Court Judge, former State Senator, former Department of Agriculture Director, former Congressman. I believe he is in private practice now, because he had to be off the bench for a year before he could run for office. This race has gotten nasty, as Schuette has attacked Layton for not prosecuting a murderer and using the victim’s mother in ads. The victims’ mother has accused the coverage of being slanted because the Jewish owner of the Flint Journal wants to help a fellow Jew (Leyton). Leyton refutes this and points out his over-90% prosecution record. He says that Schuette is abusing a disgruntled victim in order to politicize a complicated situation. I have endorsed Leyton, as he contacted me a while ago and I have been very impressed with his time as a prosecutor. I believe we need a prosecutor as Attorney General.
In the Secretary of State race, Jocelyn Benson (D) is facing off against Oakland County Clerk Ruth Johnson (R). Benson is a professor at Wayne State, and Johnson is a former State Representative and the former Lieutenant Governor candidate for Dick DeVos. This race is also getting nasty, as the Democrats really want to turn the tide of Republican control of this office while the Republicans are sinking a lot of money into keeping it. Johnson has accused Benson of being run by out-of-state interests and of carpetbagging to Michigan. Benson countered saying she has contributions from a majority of the counties in Michigan as well as from friends out-of-state, and said that she chose to live in Michigan because she lived in other states and Michigan is the best place to settle. Benson has said Johnson of putting millions of her own money into the race, and has accused Johnson of disenfranchising voters by saying that those with foreclosures can’t vote. Johnson refutes that by saying she was part of the group alerting people with foreclosures that they can vote. Benson is married to a friend from college and I have met her many times. I am very impressed with her dedication and drive, and I support Benson.
For Congress, there are two races. Republican Congressman Mike Rogers is being challenged by Democrat Lance Enderle. This race has flown under the radar. Rogers has millions in the bank, and is campaigning on lessening the debt. Enderle has vowed not to take PAC money and has much less in the bank. He is campaigning on the fact that Rogers is much too conservative for the district, that Rogers was part of creating the debt when he was in the majority, and is campaigning on eliminating unfair trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA.
On the west side of the county, Democratic Congressman Mark Schauer is being challenged by Republican former Congressman Tim Walberg. Anyone watching TV knows that this race is very nasty. I can’t even go into the myriad of claims that each is making against the other. Suffice it to say…if you live in this district, you have received mail, calls, tv, knocks on your door, etc.
For the State Senate, Democratic Senator Gretchen Whitmer is being challenged by Republican Kyle Haubrich. Sen. Whitmer is expected to win this race, and I don’t know much about Haubrich. Whitmer is also one of two front-runners for Democratic leader for the next session.
In the biggest chunk of Lansing, Democrat Joan Bauer is the State Representative. She is challenged by former firefighter Tim Moede. Again, I don’t know much about his campaign and it is expected that Bauer will be returned to the House. If you don’t know, Joan has been doing a great job and works often with local officials. She has met with county commissioners several times, and reached out to us on several appropriations bills that could negatively affect services that the county can provide.
In East Lansing and Meridian and Williamston, Democrat Mark Meadows is being challenged by Republican Susan McGillicuddy. McGillicuddy is getting more attention that normal challengers to this seat because the year is expected to be more Republican, and because she is the township Supervisor in Meridian Township. There is an outside chance of an upset here, but capitol insiders seem to think that Meadows (who is assistant leader of the House) will prevail.
The real heated State House race in our areas is democratic Rep. Barb Byrum who is being challenged by Republican Jeff Oesterle. Byrum has been a moderate Democrat and is running for her third and final term. Oesterle is a farmer and seems to be running on smaller government. The Republican party is running the most ridiculous commercials against Byrum, blaming her for just about all the ills of state government. Byrum has chaired the Insurance Committee for the last two years and has tried to hold their feet to the fire, so the insurance industry is also coming after her with intense TV and radio ads. I have not seen anything from Oesterle at this point, and expect that he is trying to ride the tide of voter discontent through the GOP and insurance ads.
All 16 county commission seats are up for grabs. Two of them are unopposed – Commissioner Randy Schafer (R-Williamston) and Commissioner Don Vickers (R-Mason). The rest of us face competition. Here is a quick glimpse from my perspective, in district order from 1-16:
Lansing Twp, West Lasing – Vic Celentino (D) has done a great job on the Board and is very popular. I don’t know anything about his opponent.
North Lansing – Deb De Leon has been Board Chair for 2 years and has led us through tough times. I don’t know anything about her opponent.
Groesbeck and eastside Lansing – Brian McGrain really distinguished himself in his first term as a leader in the caucus and on the Board. I don’t know anything about his opponent.
Westside and mid-town Lansing – Rebecca Bahar-Cook has become a Board expert on zoo and judiciary issues that the rest of us count on. I don’t know anything about her opponent.
Southeast Lansing – this is my district. I am opposed by a gentleman named Chris Christensen. I have met him and he is very nice. We are both running respectful campaigns, and I am hoping to be returned to the Board by my constituents.
Southwest Lansing – Dale Copedge is very active in the community and has asked the questions that really need to be asked as a member of the Board. His opponent seems to be active with some signs, but that is all I know.
South Lansing – Todd Tennis has been an expert on Human Services issues and really understands how to balance the needs of the workers with the budget realities of the county. His opponent is someone who has challenged him before and has some signs up, but I don’t know much else about him.
East Lansing – Penelope Tsernoglou is serving the balance of a vacated seat and is running for her first full term. She has hit the ground running and has a good mix of experience and questions. I don’t know anything about her opponent.
East Lansing – Carol Koenig has been a real leader on the Board. She has been very active with Law Enforcement and Human Services issues, and has tremendous experience. I don’t know anything about her opponent.
East Lansing - Mark Grebner is, well, Mark Grebner. He has served for 30 years and is truly the voice of experience on our Board. I don't know anything about his opponent.
Meridian Twp - Dianne Holman is one of our leaders in terms of law enforcement issues and has a good understanding of economic development. I don’t know anything about her opponent.
Meridian Twp – Deb Nolan has lead efforts on juvenile justice issues, and in dealing with the Road Commission and roads. Her opponent seems to be active and the Republicans are trying to win back a seat that was once theirs. Deb is a tremendous commissioner, though, and I believe that her constituents appreciate her hard work on their behalf.
Holt and several out-county townships – Steve Dougan has represented this area for 6 years. We don’t see eye-to-eye on a lot because he opposes things on the Board floor without commenting or trying to work on them and make them better (usually for political reasons). He also has done things like assisting my opponent in the Democratic primary, which I find simply wrong (I have never gotten involved in a Republican primary). His opponent is Liz Kranz, who is campaigning on supporting the out-county as a leader on the Board instead of just voting no on everything. This should be an interesting race as both candidates are working hard.
Holt and several out-county townships – Commissioner Laura Davis is not seeking re-election due to health reasons. Republican Vince Dragonetti is facing off against Democrat Karen Dravenstatt-Moceri. I have seen lawn signs for both of them, but don’t really know the issues that they are campaigning on. This seat has flipped back and forth from Republican to Demcoratic hands, and this should be an interesting race.
There are several judge races on the ballot in the non-partisan races. PLEASE REMEMBER TO VOTE IN THESE ALSO!
For Michigan Supreme Court, there are two incumbents running who will run with the designation “Justice of the Supreme Court” on the ballot. The first is long-time Justice Robert Young. He is one of the so-called “Gang of Four” Republican-nominated justices who have very conservative philosophies and tend to rule in favor of business and insurance companies instead of citizens. When he was elected the first time, the Supreme Court took an arch-conservative philosophy and really started changing case-law in Michigan by overturning several long-established decisions. This ended two years ago when Justice Taylor was defeated, but Young is still very conservative. The other incumbent justice is newly-appointed Justice Alton Thomas Davis. From what I know, he has been a very reasonable judge on the Appeals Court (neither liberal nor conservative), and was appointed to the Supreme Court when Justice Elizabeth Weaver retired. I am hopeful that he will be retained and will provide a voice of reason on the Supreme Court, which has been very politically charged recently.
The other two Supreme Court candidates are Republican-nominated Wayne Circuit Judge Mary Beth Kelly and Democrat-nominated Oakland Circuit Judge Denise Langford Morris. I really don’t know much about either of them.
Locally, we have a circuit court judge race that is being contested. Lansing assistant attorney Billie Jo O’Berry is facing attorney Clinton Canady. I have seen them both at several candidate forums and they are both working very hard. There is also a District judgeship that is contested. Judge Donald Allen is being opposed by attorney Paul Joseph. They have also both been at candidate forums and knocking on doors. I have worked with Judge Allen, and I am very impressed with all that he has done in the courtroom.
There are also several judges that are on the ballot unopposed - District Judges Amy Krause, Louise Alderson and Richard Ball; Circuit Judge Joyce Draganchuk; and Court of Appeals Judges Owens and Whitbeck.
The education boards are all up, but I don’t know much about any of the candidates so I can’t help there. But you will be voting for State School Board candidates, University of Michigan Regents, MSU Trustees, and Wayne State Governors.
Finally, there are several ballot initiatives on the ballot. On statewide ballot measures, you will decide if you want a constitutional convention or not, and if felons should be able to hold elected office.
Countywide, voters will decide if they want to continue to support the Potter Park Zoo. The economic benefits to Ingham County have been huge and I hope that county voters will continue to support the zoo. If this fails, the zoo will go back to being funded at a much lower level by the City of Lansing.
City of Lansing voters will decide if they want to support a Sinking Fund for infrastructure improvements for the schools. As a parent with a child in Lansing Schools, I know first hand of the unbelievable need of the schools. I think it is time for Lansing residents to adopt this so we can fix boilers and roofs and update to energy efficient power and solve other pressing needs. That is needed to keep kids in the district.
Voters in the general law townships and villages you will decide if they want to pay to support Road Patrols from the Sheriff through either assessments or millages (depending on the jurisdiction). If these do not pass, then these residents will no longer receive road patrol services from the county and will only receive emergency response from the county as well as whatever is provided by State Police.
There are also several other local council races, millage requests and other things on the ballot. Click here to see the entire candidate and proposal list.