Both local county board seats contested

By: 
Ryan Lewis

When Don Black, Allegan County Commissioner for District 7, announced last fall he would not seek reelection, he actively sought out interested replacements.
Several answered that call.
Two Republican newcomers will face off for their party’s nomination in August: Nathaniel Sherman of Wayland Township and Rick Cain of Shelbyville.
Each county board seat will have a Democratic challenger in November, likely another first.
In District 7—which includes the Village of Martin, the City of Plainwell and the townships of Gun Plain, Martin and Wayland—that Democratic challenger will be Rachel Colingsworth of Plainwell.
Over in District 6, incumbent Republican Gale Dugan of Otsego Township is wrapping up his first term following his 2015 election to replace longtime Commissioner Jon Campbell.
Dugan’s Democratic challenger is Benjamin Snape of Otsego Township
District 6 includes the Village of Hopkins, City of Otsego and the townships of Otsego, Hopkins, Watson and Trowbridge. County board terms last two years.

State House
This election may have a first: a Democratic primary race for Michigan House of Representatives District 80.
The winner between Mark Ludwig of Fennville and Erik Almquist of Fennville will face incumbent Republican Mary Whiteford of Casco Township, who is finishing up her first term in the House.
District 80 includes the entire county except: the City of Wayland and Dorr, Leighton and Wayland townships.
State representative terms last two years.

County Prosecutor
When Judge Kevin Cronin retired mid-term earlier this year, it set off a domino effect that will continue to play out in this election cycle.
Roberts Kengis—who won an uncontested election as a Republican county prosecutor last year to replace retiring longtime prosecutor Fred Anderson—was appointed to fill Cronin’s post to the county’s circuit court.
Allegan County Circuit Court Chief Judge Margaret Zuzich Bakker then appointed Kengis’ chief assistant prosecutor Myrene Koch as prosecutor. The remainder of the term is up for election this fall and the Valley Township Republican faces a primary challenger in Michael Villar of Allegan.
Probate Judge Michael Buck is running unopposed for his post.
Prosecutor terms last four years.

County Commission
Elsewhere in the county, three Republicans will face rare challenges to their party’s nomination come the August primary. That is only the beginning to an uncommonly crowded field of races for voters to decide in August and November.
Dean Kapenga chairs the county board and represents District 1; he will face GOP challenger Anthony Brown, also.
Democrat Christi Allen will face the winner of that contest. District 1 includes the cities of Douglas, Fennville and Saugatuck and the townships of Laketown, Manlius and Saugatuck.
In District 3, which includes the City of Allegan and the townships of Allegan, Monterey and Salem, longtime incumbent Republican Max Thiele will face William Sorensen in the primary. The winner of that match-up will face Democrat Kathryn Bamberg.
There was nearly a similar Republican primary challenge for District 5 Commissioner Tom Jessup, but Allegan County Clerk Bob Genetski said Kenny Clovenger did not turn in enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. Jessup will face Democrat Don Doggenoorf in November.
District 5 includes the townships of Casco, Cheshire, Clyde, Ganges, Lee and Valley.
The Democratic challengers to the remaining GOP incumbents on the county board include:
• District 2: Jim Storey challenged by Kenneth Whitcomb (includes a portion of the City of Holland and the townships of Fillmore, Heath and Overisel)
• District 4: Mark DeYoung challenged by Mike Salisbury (includes the City of Wayland and the townships of Dorr and Leighton)

State Senate
With Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker term-limited out of her seat, Genetski of Saugatuck is running for the GOP nod for Michigan Senate District 26, joined by fellow former state representative Aric Nesbitt of Lawton. Don Wickstra of Hamilton rounds out the Republican side of the ballot.
Come November, the winner of that primary will face Democrat Garnet Lewis of Saugatuck and Libertarian Erwin Haas of Kentwood.
The position is a four-year term.
Contact Ryan Lewis at rmlewis@allegannews.com or (269) 673-5534.

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