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If you don’t vote, don’t complain

Mike Wilcox

Mike Wilcox

Only 17% of the people registered to vote in Clare and Osceola counties, bothered to do so on Tuesday. I knew this Primary Election was rather mundane, with very few candidates or issues on the ballot, but 17%- c’mon that’s just awful.

It’s not good because day in and day out, you hear constant rhetoric about how bad our country is, and how crooked the politicians are that run it. My Facebook is blown up 24-7, with political commentary from people that complain, but then don’t bother to vote.  To me, they are the bigger problem.

Likewise, the fact that our ballot gives us very few choices, is extremely aggravating. I was appalled when it was announced how many candidates were running for local election. In Clare County, there were no contested County Commission races. In November there will be a couple, but to have our local reps elected year after year without opposition is insane.

There were several surprising results. State Senator John Molenaar managed to win the 4th District Congressional Republican nomination quite handily.  Polls showed Molenaar behind by 22 points only three weeks ago. His major opponent Paul Mitchell was riding a crest of negative TV advertising at the time in which he spend $3.2 million of his own money.

I was glad to see the negative advertising backfired. In the end Mitchell probably spent over $4 million, and I think his most effective ads were those that laid out his opinions and background, and not those that lambasted Molenaar.

Molenaar too was guilty of negative campaigning, although his ads (one called Mitchell a liar) were in response to Mitchell’s untruthful claims. Molenaar was behind the proverbial eight ball, as Mitchell jumped out early with his TV ads, but in the end Molenaar garnered all the major endorsements and was able to fight Mitchell TV spot for TV spot, once money flowed to him from conservative PACs.

I guess I was surprised. I thought Mitchell’s money would make the race very tight. I knew Molenaar was closing and might eek it out, but surprisingly he won by 15 percentage points. I guess there are two lessons to be learned- negative ads don’t always work, and you can start campaigning too early.

Very few campaigned for the road millages that were placed on most township ballots in Osceola County and a few in Clare County. Surprisingly to this columnist, they all won, and won by wide margins. I really didn’t think they had a chance. I presumed voters were sick and tired of paying more money to government.

Heck even  one local township supervisor who shall remain anonymous, told me no way would the road millages pass. He said we put ours on the ballot simply to make people aware that there is very little local money available to fix roads. Well I guess we both misread the voting electorate.

Osceola County voters were extremely generous with their wallets. They voted to increase the amount of money going to the County EMS.  They also renewed the millage that had previously been voted in for senior services. And they agreed to continue the monthly surcharge for 911 service. The only item that didn’t pass was a library millage in Reed City.

The only contested race in Clare County pitted veteran Road Commissioner Dick Haynak against Harrison Village Council member Don Kolander. They were competing for Haynak’s Road Commission seat. With the news breaking a few weeks ago that the Commission may or may not have fired their director ( he says he voluntarily quit) it could have been an opening for Kolander. In other words, the messy exit of Ron Bushong could have given Kolander campaign ammunition.

Alas however, Haynak retained his seat by a 1322 to 959 margin. Haynak simply out-campaigned Kolander, again reinforcing the old adage that the incumbent in any election, has a big advantage.

Certainly more will be at stake in the November General Election. Races for governor, U.S. senate and a slew of proposals will dominate the ballot. My hope is that voters will drastically improve upon that 17% voter turnout that was disturbing to say the least, last Tuesday.

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