Commentary: A primer for the August primary

By Paul Rozycki

While so much attention has been on the November election between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, Michigan’s August primary may be just as critical to determining who will govern us in the next few years. 

Because our primary takes place in August — when many are thinking of SPF rather than GDP — the turnout for primary elections is usually much lower than for fall’s general election. That’s unfortunate because in many areas of the state where one party is dominant, the winners of the primary election tend to decide who wins in the general.  

So, in the hope of seeing you at the polls this summer (or turning in an absentee ballot before hitting the beach) here’s a look at the candidates running for the Democratic and Republican parties on the national, state and local levels, as well as the proposals and nonpartisan candidates in our area this August. 

The U.S. Congress

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Representative Dan Kildee, both Democrats, will be retiring this term, making area congressional races more competitive than ever with no incumbents running. 

With the party balance so close in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House, Michigan elections could play a key role in deciding which party controls the next congress. 

U.S. Senate

Running to fill Senator Stabenow’s seat in the U.S. Senate are Democrats Beydoun Nasser, Hill Harper, and Elissa Slotkin and Republicans Justin Amash, Sherry O’Donnell, Sandy Pensler and Mike Rogers. Former U.S. Representative Peter Meijer, one of the few Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump, withdrew from the race in April. 

The winners for each party will face each other in November.. 

U.S. House

Flint falls within the state’s 8th Congressional District, which includes most of Genesee County, all of Saginaw and Bay counties, and portions of Midland and Tuscola counties.

When Kildee announced he was not running for reelection in November 2023, it meant that for the first time since 1962 there would not be a Kildee name on the ballot in the Flint area. 

Running to replace him are Democrats Matt Collier, Kristen McDonald Rivet, Pamela Pugh and Republicans Mary Draves, Anthony J. Hudson, and Paul Junge.

Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley also announced a bid, but he withdrew from the race in late April citing that he was “persuaded” he had more he wanted “to accomplish here at home.” 

State House of Representatives 

Aside from federal races, primary voters will also nominate and elect the 110 members of the Michigan State House of Representatives in Lansing. State representatives serve two year terms, and Genesee County voters nominate candidates in seven districts. 

67th District (Northeast Genesee County): Democrat Anissa Buffin is unopposed and will face either Republican Sherri Cross, Phil Green or Sherry Marden in November. 

68th District (East/Southeast Central Genesee County): Both incumbent Democrat Tim Sneller and Republican David W. Martin are unopposed for their party nominations and will face each other in November. 

69th District (West Central Genesee County): Incumbent Democrat Jasper Ryan Martus and Republican Patrick Duvendeck are both unopposed and will face each other in November. 

70th District (City of Flint): Incumbent Democrat Cynthia R. Neeley faces Michael Floyd Clack for the Democratic Party nomination. The winner will face Republican Rob Waskoviak who was unopposed for his party nomination. 

71st District (Southwest Genesee County): Democrat Mark Zacharda is unopposed for his party nomination and will face either Republican Brian BeGole or Kevin Rathbun in the general election. 

72nd District (South Central Genesee County): Both Democrat John Dolza and incumbent Republican Mike Mueller are unopposed for their party nominations and will run in November. 

97th District (Northwest Genesee County): Democrat Mark Putnam and Republican Matthew Bierlein are unopposed and will face each other in the November election.

Genesee County Elections

All Genesee County officials are elected to four year terms of office. Here’s whose expected on the August primary ballot:

Prosecuting Attorney: Though no Republicans have filed to run, incumbent David Leyton is facing a challenge for the Democratic nomination from Trachelle C. Young. 

Sheriff: Incumbent Democrat Christopher R. Swanson is unopposed for his party nomination and will face unopposed Republican Jeff Salzeider in November. 

Clerk/Register of Deeds: Incumbent Domonique Clemons faces a challenge for the Democratic nomination from William E. Swanson. No Republican has filed to run.  

Treasurer: Democrat F. Jack Belzer is running against Sam E. Muma for the party’s nomination. No Republican has filed to run. 

Drain Commissioner: Democrat incumbent Jeff Wright is unopposed and no Republican has filed to run. 

Surveyor: Incumbent Democrat Kim R. Carlson is unopposed and no Republican has filed to run. 

County Commission District 1 (Northeast City of Flint): Incumbent Democrat Delrico J. Loyd is unopposed for the nomination, and no Republican has filed.

County Commission District 2 (North Central City of Flint): Incumbent Democrat Charles Winfrey is opposed by Holly Wilson for the party nomination. No Republican has filed to run. 

County Commission District 3 (East City of Flint and Burton): Incumbent Democrat Ellen J. Ellenburg is opposed by Drew Marsh and Brian Ashley for the party nomination. Gary L. Goetzinger and Sandra L. O’Dell are seeking the Republican nomination. 

County Commission District 4 (South Central Genesee County): Incumbent Democrat Beverly Brown is unopposed for her party nomination. Republicans Steve Minnock and Michelle Sheeran are running for the Republican nomination

County Commission District 5 (Southeast Genesee County): Incumbent Democrat James Avery is unopposed for his party nomination, as is Republican John C. Wellington.  

County Commission District 6 (Southwest Genesee County): Republican incumbent Shaun Shumaker is unopposed for his party’s nomination as is Democrat Donna Anderson. 

County Commission District 7 (Northwest Genesee County): Incumbent Democrat Martin L. Cousineau is unopposed for his party nomination and will run against Republican Jeff Salzeider in November. Republican Lutullus Penton withdrew from the race. 

County Commission District 8 (Western Genesee County): Incumbent Democrat Dale K. Weighill is running against Joseph R.A. Karlichek for the party nomination. The winner will face Republican Dennis W. Cramer who is unopposed for his party nomination. Republican Rod Shumaker withdrew earlier. 

County Commission District 9 (Northeast Genesee County): Democrats Mo A. Aboneaaj and Wendy Wolcott are competing for their party’s nomination. Incumbent Michelle Davis, Brian K. Flewelling, and Daryl Simpson are all seeking the Republican nomination. 

City of Flint Elections

City of Flint Ward 1 (Northwest Flint): A non-partisan primary election is being held to nominate candidates to finish the term of the late Eric Mays, which runs until Nov. 18, 2026. Appointed incumbent Leon El-Alamin is running against Liberty C. Bell, Carol McIntosh, Rosemary Morrow, John Billings and Cynthia Haynes. The top two candidates will compete in the November election.

City of Flint Ward 7 (East Central Flint): The August election will serve as a general election to complete a partial term ending on Nov. 19, 2026, once belonging to former Flint City Council President Allie Herkenroder. Incumbent appointee Candice Mushatt is running against JanMarie Arbor for the position. 

Judicial Elections

There are several judicial elections on the August ballot as well. A number are unopposed. All terms are for 6 years. 

Probate Court Judge: Incumbent Ariana E. Heath is unopposed. 

2nd District Judge of Court of Appeals: Incumbent Adrienne Young is unopposed. 

2nd District Judge of Court of Appeals Non-Incumbent: Two to be elected. Matthew Ackerman, Lisa Marie Neilson, Randy J. Wallace and Latoya Marie Willis are all seeking the position.

7th Circuit Judge of Circuit Court: Two positions to be elected. Both incumbents Elizabeth Kelly and Brian S. Pickell are unopposed.  

7th Circuit Judge of Circuit Court (Non-Incumbent): Two to be elected. Mary Hood and Nancy Chinonis are unopposed. 

67th District – 4th Division Judge of District Court (Non-Incumbent): One to be elected. K.C. Baran, Jeffrey Clothier, Elias Fanous, and Amanda Odette are running for the position. 

67th District – 5th Division Judge of District Court: Two to be elected. Incumbents William Crawford and Herman Marable, Jr. are unopposed. 

Township officers and Precinct delegates

Voters in Genesee County will also be nominating individuals for township offices in the county. They will also be electing precinct delegates to the local Democratic and Republican parties.  

Ballot Proposals 

There will be three county-wide proposals on the ballot. 

The Genesee County Mass Transportation Authority Millage Renewal Proposal requests a 1.225 millage renewal for the purpose of providing a variety of public transportation services in Genesee County. If passed, the millage would restore an earlier levy after the millage was rolled back to 1.2095.

Senior Services Millage Renewal Proposal requests renewal of the .6852 millage to provide services to senior citizens in Genesee County. 

A proposal for 9-1-1 system funding requests a levy of $3.00 per month for landline, wireless and voice internet services to provide for enhanced 9-1-1 services for Genesee County. 

In addition there will be ballot proposals for an Atlas Township Recreation millage, Clayton Township Fire Department, Flint Township fire safety and road millages, Montrose millages for fire safety and emergency equipment, City of Burton police millage, and a Byron area school sinking fund. 

Early Voting

While August 6 is the official date for the primary election this year, registered voters can also cast their ballots early, either in-person or absentee. So, whatever your vacation plans may be, take the time to learn about the candidates and vote! 

After all, the primary is of primary importance.

This article also appears in East Village Magazine’s June 2024 issue.

Author: East Village Magazine

A Non-profit, Community News Magazine Since 1976

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