Incumbents Swanson, Neeley and Gleason defeat challengers in competitive primary

By Paul Rozycki

THIS STORY WAS UPDATED at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday Aug. 5

In an election where mail-in votes were dominant, Genesee County voters turned out in larger than expected numbers and set the stage for the November election. With all the votes counted more than 29 percent of voters turned out for the August primary, significantly higher than the typical 20 percent turnout.

A voter plies his way through a small forest of campaign signs Tuesday (Photo by Tom Travis)

Though there was a concern that the large number of absentee ballots might delay the final results, early in the evening several candidates seemed on their way to victory, while others had to wait until the last ballots are counted. By Wednesday afternoon all the votes were tallied.

The contests for Genesee County offices were some of the most contentious of the night, though incumbents generally did well.

The contest for the Genesee County Sheriff was one biggest contests of the night.  Incumbent Democrat Christopher Swanson had little trouble defeating Flint Police Chief Phil Hart and former chief Tim Johnson.  Swanson had 58 percent of the vote, Johnson 19 percent and Hart had 13 percent. Swanson will face Republican Stephen Sanford in the fall.

Incumbent David Leyton easily earned the Democratic nomination for Genesee County prosecutor. With his win he garnered 59 percent of the vote, and Trachelle Young had 30 percent. No Republican has filed to run.

Genesee County Clerk John Gleason faced what could have been one of the more serious challenges to an incumbent. As a Democrat he failed to win the endorsement of the UAW, which went to his challenger Renee Watson, and many thought Gleason might have a problem winning his nomination. Though the race was closer than some others, he had little problem. Gleason won with 52 percent of the vote, while Watson had 37 percent. He will face Republican Jesse Couch in November.

Last minute campaigners (l-r) Heather Burnash volunteer – Lisa Metropoulos; Charles Winfrey volunteer – Juan Hernandez; Torchio Feaster volunteer – Sequoia Brown (Photo by Tom Travis)

Democratic County Treasurer Deb Cherry was unopposed for her party’s nomination and will face Republican Deborah Hoss the fall.

Incumbent Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright faced a challenge from Travis Wines, but Wright emerged victorious with little problem. Wright won with a 62 to23 percent margin over Wines. No Republican has filed to run.

As is often the case in Genesee County, many of those who have won the Democratic nomination are in a strong position to win in November.

For the U.S. Senate seat incumbent Democrat Gary Peters was unopposed as was Republican John James. They will face each other in November.

In Michigan’s 5th U.S. House district Democrat Dan Kildee was unopposed, and Republican Tim Kelly was well on the way to winning the Republican nomination over Earl Lackie by a 63 to 18 percent margin.

For the Michigan State House of Representatives, most incumbents led easily in the early counts.

Precincts in the time of COVID (Photo by Paul Rozycki)

For the 34th district incumbent Cynthia Neeley easily emerged victorious over four Democratic challengers—DelTonya Burns, Claudia Perkins-Milton, Diana Phillips, and Arthur Woodson.  Neeley won 62 percent of the vote, Woodson 12 percent, Perkins-Milton 10 percent and Burns and Phillips about four percent each. Neeley will face Republican James Miraglia in the fall election.

For the 48th district Democrat Sheryl Kennedy defeated her lone opponent, Andalib Odulate, for the nomination, taking 80 percent of the vote. She will face David Martin, who won the Republican nomination over Sheri Cross, in what many expect to be a very competitive race. Martin had 54 percent of the vote, and Cross 29 percent.

Democrat incumbent John Cherry was unopposed in the 49th district. He will face Republican Bryan Lutz in the fall.

In the 50th district incumbent Democrat Tim Sneller, with 67 percent of the vote, easily defeated challenger Raymond Freiberger. Republican Christina Fichett-Hickson, with 30 percent of the vote, edged out Lynn Frieberger who had 27percent, and Lynn Nuckee, with 19 percent. Incumbent County Surveyor Kim Carlson was unopposed for the Democratic nomination. No Republican has filed to oppose him.

Of the nine county commission districts four of them include Flint-area neighborhoods.

In the 1st district, incumbent Bryant Nolden was unopposed for the Democratic nomination and he faced no Republican opponent in the fall.

In the 2nd district, three Democrats are competing to replace the Brenda Clack, who chose not to run again. Charles Winfrey edged out Michael Clack by a 40-38 percent margin. Corey Locket had 12 percent of the vote.

In the Third district, incumbent Democrat Ellen Ellenburg is unopposed, as was her Republican challenger Gary Goetzinger.

In the Fourth district, Democrat Dominque Clemons had 46 percent and topped challenger Donald Wright, with 39 percent of the vote. No Republican has filed to run.

There were also a number of judicial contests in the area.

For the 7th Circuit Court position, Chris Christianson and Stephanie Witucki emerged on top. Christianson had 29 percent of the vote, Marable came in second with 21 percent. In one of the closest races of the night, Witucki finished third only 34 votes behind Marable.

For the 76th District Court Tabitha Marsh had 38 percent and Torchio Feaster had 19 percent to lead the field.  Heather Burnash was close behind with 17 percent and Glenn Cotton had eight percent.

The two candidates with the most votes will face each other in November.

There were two county-wide proposals on the ballot on the August ballot.  Both seemed on the road to passing.

The Animal Control millage proposal won by a nearly 2-1 margin with a 64 percent yes vote. and the MTA millage replacement proposal also led by a similar margin, with a 60 percent yes vote.

EVM political commentator Paul Rozycki can be reached at

(Banner Photo by Paul Rozycki)



Author: East Village Magazine

A Non-profit, Community News Magazine Since 1976

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