I was kind of disappointed when we learned only 23 had filed for political offices in Clare County. In past election years, Clare had more than its share of candidates. Not so in 2012.
One major County political office, that of Country Treasurer, which is currently held by Democrat Jenny Beemer-Fritzinger has no candidates other than the incumbent. By most accounts, Beemer-Fritzinger is a competent treasurer, but it’s a travesty that no one is running against her.
On the other hand, two Republicans are facing off in August for the right to challenge incumbent sheriff, John Wilson. Former undersheriff and Surrey Township Supervisor Richard Miller and former Clare County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Mark McClellan are expected to have a heated race for the right to face Wilson in November.
Interestingly enough, the two judgeships up for grabs have plenty of competition. Former Clare County Prosecutor Norm Gage, and Clare attorneys Tara Hovey and Marcy Klaus are competing for the position of 17th District Judge of Probate Court. All three contestants are campaigning hard- knocking on doors and spending lots of money on advertising.
That’s not the case, so far, with the 55th Circuit Court, where former Prosecutor (there we go again- former prosecutors seem to never quit politics) Ghazey Aleck has thrown his hat in the ring against incumbent Judge Roy Mienk. This could be an interesting race, if both candidates want to make it that way.
What’s particularly disappointing to me is the County Commission seats. I must be one of the few interested in what these guys do, although if you think about it, they make most of the major decisions affecting citizens at the county level. It is a thankless job- they get paid very little and take a lot of flak when they make an unpopular decision, but they literally can make or break county government.
There are seven commissioners in Clare County. Three of them- Lynn Laverty-Grim, Leonard Strouse, Jack Kleinhardt and James Gelios are assured re-election because no one bothered to run against them. That points to a lot of apathy in Clare County. Four out of seven seats have no opposition. Where are the people who screamed about the ambulance problems in the County? Where are the people who were so concerned when County services were being cut? Apparently none were interested in holding commission seats.
To their credit three qualified individuals are taking on the other three commissioners. Commission Chairman Don David is being challenged by former magistrate, Rick Laboda. This should be an interesting race, since they both have spent much time as county insiders. Additionally incumbents Jerry Burger and Karen Lipovsky are being challenged by Dale Majewski and Jim Keysor, respectively.
Here’s hoping for a vigorous election season. I’m a firm believer in a certain amount of changeover. It’s easy to get stagnant and stale if you’re in office for several terms. We need change, but it needs to be managed change. Voters should look to maintain the status quo in certain situations, while electing newcomers in others. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top in August and November.