Sunday, November 24, 2013

2014 Kalamazoo County Commission Election Preview

This post was last updated August 8, 2014.

Republicans won a 6-5 majority on the Kalamazoo County Commission in 2010. The map is likely to maintain a Republican majority, but several districts will have competitive races. Six incumbents will retire, four to run for state representative.  Only two of the remaining commissioners were in office before 2010.  These are Republican Jeff Heppler and democrat John Taylor, who were both elected in 2002.  They are probably the favorites to be the leaders of the commission next year.

Incumbents are marked below with asterisks. The following post has detailed descriptions of the districts and their political leanings. The numbers given are the percentage the Republican county commission candidate got in 2012, Mitt Romney's 2-party percentage in 2012, and Ruth Johnson's percentage in 2010.

Kalamazoo County Commission Districts.


List of Kalamazoo County Candidates

District 1 [N Kalamazoo] Safe Democrat
R% 2012: 13.9 Romney: 13.5 Johnson: 20.3
Democrat: Stephanie Moore
Republican: none
Carolyn Alford, who has held office since 2006, is retiring. She defeated fellow incumbent Robert Barnard in this minority-majority district in 2012.  Moore is a Kalamazoo city commissioner who has been convicted of several crimes over the years.  She won the primary with 55% over Barnard (21%), Vicki Cohn (13%), and Rico White (11%).

District 2 [SE Kalamazoo] Safe Democrat
R% 2012: 0 Romney: 28.1 Johnson: 33.4
Democrat: Kevin Wordelman
Republican: David Lee
Incumbent David Buskirk, who is the board vice-chairman and has held this seat since 1992, retired to run for the democrat nomination in the 60th state house district, which he lost. Wordelman, a union organizer at WMU, defeated Jeremy Orr 68-32 in the primary.

District 3 [SW Kalamazoo] Safe Democrat
R% 2012: 31.1 Romney: 30.1 Johnson: 37.2
Democrat: John Taylor*
Republican: Sonjalita Hulbert
Taylor, who was first elected in 2002 by 13 votes, is safe here.  He was recently elected chair of the Kalamazoo democrat party.  Hulbert is a black conservative.

District 4 [Kalamazoo Twp, Parchment] Safe Democrat
R% 2012: 32.2 Romney: 31.7 Johnson: 41.8
Democrat: Michael Seals*
Republican: none
Seals, who defeated fellow democrat Franklin Thompson in 2010, is unopposed.

District 5 [Alamo, N Oshtemo, NW Kalamazoo Twp] Lean Democrat
R% 2012: 44.3 Romney: 47.2 Johnson: 56.9
Democrat: Julie Rogers*
Republican: Chuck Ybema
Rogers defeated David Worthams in 2012 to win this swingy open seat.  Ybema was the Republican nominee for state rep in the 60th district in 2008 before moving here.

District 6 [Cooper, Richland, Ross] Safe Republican
R% 2012: 54 Romney: 54.7 Johnson: 62.9
Democrat: none
Republican: Jeff Heppler*
Heppler has been on the board since 2002. In 2012, he defeated Tom Novak, who had applied for an open seat claiming to be an independent and received the votes of all the democrats. Heppler won the 2014 primary with 53% over Linda Winters (29%) and Neal Turluck (17%), who finished third in the 2012 primary.

District 7 [Comstock, Galesburg, Charleston, Climax, Wakeshma] Lean Republican
R% 2012: 50.9 Romney: 50.6 Johnson: 59.3
Democrat: David Burgess
Republican: Roger Tuinier*
Tuinier, who is a greenhouse owner, barely defeated Leroy Crabtree in 2012.  Crabtree defeated Republican incumbent Joe VanBruggen 50.7-49.3 in 2006. He was defeated by Ann Nieuwenhuis in 2008 54.5-45.5, and lost a rematch in 2010 61.9-38.1.  Burgess is a Comstock Township Trustee who finished fourth of eight candidates in 2012.

District 8 [Pavillion, Brady, Schoolcraft, Prairie Ronde] Safe Republican
R% 2012: 100 Romney: 55.1 Johnson: 63.5
Democrat: Bret Willis
Republican: John Gisler
Moderate Republican board chairman David Maturen, who has been on the board since 2002, is running for state house in the 63rd district.  Former commissioner John Gisler, who deferred to him in the 2012 Republican primary, is running this year.

District 9 [Texas, SE Oshtemo] Safe Republican
R% 2012: 53.9 Romney: 51.7 Johnson: 62.5
Democrat: Scott Spicer
Republican: Dale Shugars
Brandt Iden, who was elected in 2010, is running for state house in the 61st district.  Shugars is a conservative former state senator (1994-2002) and state rep (1990-1994).  He won 72% to moderate Brian Kovacik's 28%.  Spicer lost a dem primary for county commission in 2010.

District 10 [W Portage] Likely Republican
R% 2012: 52.8 Romney: 49.4 Johnson: 58.8
Democrat: Larry Provancher
Republican: Stan Runyon
Conservative Republican Phil Stinchcomb defeated democrat Michael Quinn 56.4-43.6 in 2010, and defeated Connor Farrell in 2012.  Stinchcomb lost a bid for state house in the 61st district.  Runyon is the Kalamazoo GOP Treasurer.  Provancher, who is 78, was a democrat county commissioner representing central Portage 1995-2002.  He defeated Mary Roscoe 61-39 in the primary.

District 11 [E Portage] Likely Republican
R% 2012: 52.5 Romney: 47.5 Johnson: 56.5
Democrat: Jamie Jager
Republican: Scott McGraw
John Zull, who has been on the board since 2000, is retiring. In 2012, he defeated Jamie Jager, who was nominated as a write-in.  McGraw formerly worked for the Kalamazoo Homebuilders Association and now runs the Kalamazoo Business Alliance.

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