Voters decide candidates, ballot issues
LAKE COUNTY — Voters made their way to the polls on Saturday to decide midterm election races for national, state and local candidates.
With midterm election turnout more than 10 percent up from the 2014 mid-term election, a total of 51.8 percent of voters came out to make their voices heard, according to unofficial results. Several townships had more than 60 percent voter turnout, such as Elk Township with 63.3 percent turnout.
“The general consensus among township clerks is their job was more worthwhile because of the very high voter turnout,” said Jan Brinkert, chief deputy of the Lake County Clerks/Register of Deeds Office. “During the midterm election in 2014, there was 40.21 percent turnout and this midterm election was 51.8 percent. That is a huge difference. People are figuring out their vote really does count.”
In Lake County, voters supported Republican Bill Schuette for governor with 2,602 votes, with Democrat Gretchen Whitmer receiving 1,904 votes. Statewide, Whitmer secured the nomination with 1.7 million votes to Schuette’s 1.4 million votes.
In the Secretary of State contest, Lake County voters supported Republican Mary Treder Lang with 2,551 votes to Democrat Jocelyn Benson’s 1,845 votes. Statewide, Benson secured the nomination with 1.6 million votes to Lang’s 1.4 million votes.
In Lake County, voters approved Republican Tom Leonard for attorney general with 2,613 votes, beating Democrat Dana Nessel, who secured 1,620 votes. Statewide, Nessel will fill the seat, winning with 1.5 million votes to Leonard’s 1.4 million votes.
In Lake County, voters chose Republican John James for U.S. Senator with 2,633 votes to Democrat Debbie Stabenow’s 1,936 votes. Statewide, Stabenow secured the nomination with 1.7 million votes to James’ 1.5 million votes.
Lake County voters supported incumbent Bill Huizenga, Republican, for U.S. Congress District No. 2 with 2,730 votes, defeating Democrat Rob Davidson by 1,767 votes. District-wide, Huizenga secured the nomination, beating Davidson 146,035-116,302.
Lake County voters approved Republican Curt VanderWall with 2,809 votes to Democrat Mike Taillard’s 1,677 votes for State Senator District No. 35. In the district, VanderWall secured the nomination with 58,718 votes to Taillard’s 30,675 votes.
“I am extremely excited to earn the vote to go to Lansing and represent the 35th. I’m appreciative and I know the responsibility that comes with us. I’m truly honored,” VanderWall said, saying the first priority is to fix auto insurance, secondly, to make sure the education system is intact, and lastly, to make sure there is proper broadband to create job growth.
When it comes to a Democrat replacing a Republican for governor, VanderWall sees it as an opportunity.
“I feel it’s an opportunity. We know we have a problem in auto insurance — it doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or Democrat,” he said. “We’ve gotta work together. We’ve gotta make the state better. As the next state senator, we’ve gotta work to make sure we improve what we have. I don’t look at it as a disadvantage — we need to work together.”
In Lake County, supported Incumbent Scott VanSingel, Republican, for State Rep. District No. 100 by 2,662 votes to Democrat Sandy Clarke’s 1,886 votes. District-wide, VanSingel secured the nomination with 8,166 votes to Clarke’s 5,082 votes.
VanSingel said he was surprised with the large voter turnout.
“Voter turnout was a big surprise tonight,” he said. “We knew it was going to be high, but I’m surprised to see it was equal or near equal to the 2016 (presidential) election — and it seems to be equal on both sides.
“I’m thankful for the support. I’ve had so many people reach out to me and tell me they were voting for me. I’m glad to see the numbers come in and show they were telling the truth. I’m looking forward to serving.”
VanSingel said his first priority in Lansing is to work with the new governor.
“We’re going to have to learn to work with a new governor. This will be my first time working with somebody from another party — having another party control one of the chambers. We’ll get to know her (Gretchen Whitmer) and what her plans are and how they line up with our agenda,” he said, adding he is optimistic about that encounter on some issues. “On other issues, I think we’re definitely going to have differences. One of mine, when I look at what she campaigned on, is that I have zero interest in going into debt to do infrastructure projects. We’ve been putting additional money in, paying cash, doing as we go, and I don’t think borrowing money and making the next generation pay for our roads today is the right thing to do.”
In Lake County, voters decided on Proposal 1, approving the measure to authorize and legalize the use and cultivation of marijuana products by individuals at least 21 years of age and older, and commercial sales of marijuana through state-licensed retailers by 2,566 to 2,147 votes. Statewide, voters approved Proposal 1 with 1.7 million to 1.3 million votes.
Voters in Lake County approved Proposal 2, to establish a commission of citizens with exclusive authority to adopt district boundaries for the Michigan Senate, Michigan House of Representatives and U.S. Congress every 10 years, by 2,293 to 2,264 votes. Statewide, the measure was approved 1.8 million to 1.1 million votes.
Voters in Lake County approved Proposal 3, to authorize automatic and Election Day voter registration, no reason absentee voting and straight ticket voting; and add current legal requirements for military and overseas voting and post-election audits to the Michigan Constitution by, 2,587 to 2,029 votes. The measure was approved statewide by 2,077,913 votes to 998,673 votes.
For a six-year term for Lake County Road Commissioner, Republican Richard Runnels defeated challenger Democrat Clyde Welford by 2,381 to 2,203 votes.
Dover Township voters elected Jon D. Smith by 167 votes for township clerk in an uncontested race.
Voters in Elk Township elected Republican Karen Fickies with 442 votes for township clerk in an uncontested race. Jack J. Hankiewicz will remain Elk Township trustee, receiving 252 votes to his opponent, Matthew Forsyth’s 227 votes.
Voters in Webber Township supported Democrat Kathryn Young as township clerk, who secured 358 votes.
Voters decided on three positions for Baldwin Community Schools board of education members for a four-year term, electing incumbent Joseph W. Brooks Jr. (1,151), incumbent Shawn Washington (1,046) and Mary Ann Pieske (1,018), who defeated Nicolette McClure (997), Jan Brinkert (682) and Quaran Griffin (456).
In a position for partial term for Baldwin Community Schools Board of Education member, write-in candidate Lisa Williams secured the nomination with 330 votes.
Voters in the Reed City School District in Lake County supported Jaimie Eichenberg (371), Christine Mund (363) and Derrick Bookwalter (272) to serve four-year terms for Reed City Area Public Schools board of education. In Osceola County, Eichenberg (1,797), Mund (1,738) and Bookwalter (1,472) secured the nominations.
Mark S. Wickens secured Judge of Probate Court with 3,637 votes.
Village officials in Baldwin were up for reelection. In unopposed races, President James Truxton was reelected with 162 votes, trustee Kelsey Bennett was reelected with 165 votes and trustee Clarence Vicent won with 147 votes.
Village officials in Luther also were up for reelection. In a contested race for treasurer, Nicole Emmert defeated Jayne Fullerton by 55 to 54 votes. In an uncontested race for president, Sherry M. Sheele received 95 votes. In an unchallenged race for clerk, Melanie Davis secured 91 votes. Brittany Carlson (84) and Gypsie Pelton (52) were elected for a four-year term as trustees and Hope Ernest (59), Connie E. Jackson Gugle (48) and Jeremy Susanka (78) were elected for the two-year term for trustee.
Voters in Cherry Valley Township approved renewing the fire department millage, which will levy 1.25 mills ($1.25 per $1,000) of taxable value for fire department operations to provide fire protection throughout the township for a period of five years, raising an estimated $17,000 of revenue in the first year. The millage passed 163-31.
Voters in Cherry Valley Township decided on the renewal of the street light millage by approving 0.75 mills ($0.75 per ($1,000 taxable value) within Cherry Valley Township for the purpose of paying for the continuation of the existing street light service in the township for a period of five years, raising an estimated $10,000 in the first year. The measure passed 142-53.