By Gari Voss
The State of Michigan Primary Elections will be Tuesday, August 2, 2022. Allegan County voters have their work cut out for themselves with the full slate of candidates in the primary. This is the first election since the redistricting lines were drawn for county commissioners, state representatives and senators, and federal representatives and senators. For the Democrats in Allegan County, the Primary will be a relative cakewalk, but for the Republicans, there are several hotly contested races. Bottomline for the Republicans, if you do not get out to vote on August 2nd, you may not see your favored candidate on the ballot on November 8th.
Points to remember
Make sure you are registered with your area’s clerk. This person can become your new best friend.
If you are not sure of your polling place, check your tax records, speak with your landlord, call your clerk, or go to https://www.allegancounty.org/departments/elections/polling-locations.
If you are not sure where to vote, speak to your neighbor, call your clerk or go to https://www.allegancounty.org/departments/elections/election-districts-maps.
Each Polling place has its own ballot. An easy place to locate the ballot for your polling place is with your clerk, or check online at https://mvic.sos.state.mi.us/PublicBallot/Index (fill in the blanks).
You must only vote in the Republican OR Democrat column of ballot for the Primary Election of candidates only, but EVERYONE needs to vote for the Ballot Proposals. These may be specific for a township or city, for your school district, for Allegan County or for the State of Michigan. THIS PRIMARY IS THE ONLY TIME YOU WILL BE ABLE TO VOTE ON THESE PROPOSALS.
Absentee Ballots are currently available and voters have already begun requesting them from their clerks. The process is simple, but each voter will be checked carefully before a ballot is mailed. All Absentee Ballots must be returned to the local clerk by August 2nd.
Because of reducing the county commissioner districts from 7 to 5, several districts have incumbent Republican commissioners running against each other while new names are on the ballot. The Commissioners are expected to keep in close contact with the towns and townships they represent. Issues that have been at the top of the current commissioners’ list have been Broadband access for everyone in Allegan County; quality of Life or health and safety issues such as the new Mental Health facility in the old Allegan Shopko; water quality; county transportation; and park assessments and upkeep. The commissioners keep an eye on what is happening in Lansing that will benefit or hinder the citizens and/or environment in Allegan County.
District 1: Incumbent Jim Storey is challenged by Ron Walters. Be careful! District 1 now includes part of Holland, plus Laketown, Fillmore, Overisel and Salem Townships. Storey is well known as he has served 10 years on the Board with 4 of those years as Chairperson. Ron Walters is a virtual unknown from Hamilton.
District 2: Incumbent Mark DeYoung was in the old District 4 and has no challengers, Republican or Democrat. The new District 2 includes Wayland plus Dorr, Leighton and Wayland Townships.
District 3: Two incumbents Tom Jessup (old District 5) and Dean Kapenga (old District 1) are running against each other. District 3 now entails Saugatuck, Douglas and a sliver of South Haven along with Casco, Cheshire, Clyde, Ganges, Lee, Manlius and Saugatuck Townships. This is familiar territory for Jessup who resides in South Haven and has covered Casco, Cheshire, Clyde, Ganges and Lee Townships since 2007. Vice-Chair of the Board Kapenga has been known to Saugatuck, Douglas, and Fennville in addition to Saugatuck and Manlius Townships since 2007. Both have served on numerous committees in their communities and their districts. The Republican winner will vie against Democrat Don Doggendorf in November.
District 4: Incumbent Max Thiele is vying against Scott Beltman and Stephen Young. District 4 now includes the cities of Allegan and Hopkins along with Allegan, Heath, Hopkins, Trowbridge and Valley Townships. Thiele has represented Allegan along with Allegan, Monterey and Salem Townships since 2001. He sits on 4 Committees. Beltman contends that he will uphold the constitution, avoid government overreach, and ask the tough questions. Young also contends that he will uphold the constitution and feels people need to take more responsibility for the maintenance of their property rather than relying on government assistance.
District 5: Incumbent Gale Dugan (old District 6) is running unopposed in the Republican Primary, but will vie against Democrat Austin Marsman on November 8th. District 5 now represents Otsego and Plainwell plus Gun Plain, Martin, Otsego and Watson Townships. Dugan has represented the citizens of Otsego along with Otsego and Watson Townships since 2016. At the recent Meet and Greet held by the League for Women Voters, Dugan assured those in attendance that he wants to continue ensuring that all issues are addressed and that he will bring diversity to the Board. Marsman stated that all citizens in the county need a “fair shot” (equal access to amenities) so he wants to continue the focus on broadband and has been on the Broadband Task Force. In addition, he wants better quality water with which he is familiar after living along the Kalamazoo River with the Superfund PCB Cleanup. Then, there are educational opportunities countywide with which Marsman is familiar because of serving on the Martin Board of Education.
State Representatives in the House and Senators
Allegan County can pick up some solid representation in the State House and Senate. All the seats have multiple Republican candidates and several have Democrats vying to represent their party in November. Districts are often aligned to represent groups with similar needs whether rural or more populated, near natural resources such as rivers, and/or social demographics.
State House District 38: District 38 has contests for both Democrat and Republican representation. Democrats Joey Andrews (St. Joseph) and Annie Brown (South Haven) desire the Democrat vote. Republicans George Lucas (Harbert), Troy Rolling (Benton Harbor) and Kevin Whiteford (South Haven) are running for the Republican nomination. Voters in Casco, Ganges and Saugatuck Townships along with the cities of Saugatuck and Douglas will weigh in on the decisions as to who will represent each party in November.
State House District 39: Republicans Matt Nilson (Hartford) and incumbent Pauline Wendzel (Coloma, previously District 79) will compete to run against Democrat Jared Polonowski (Otsego). Most of District 39 is in Van Buren County, so voters in Lee, Cheshire, Trowbridge and Otsego Townships will need a strong turnout to assure Allegan County representation.
State House District 42: Matt Hall (Kalamazoo) and Gary Mitchell (Kalamazoo) will compete for the Republican nomination to run against Justin Mendoza (Kalamazoo) in November. The only portions of Allegan County in the 42nd District are Gun Plain Township and the cities of Otsego and Plainwell. This area might be interested in what the candidates know about the Superfund PCB Cleanup, and Eagle Creek Renewable Energy and its subsidiary STS that drew down Morrow Dam which released tons and tons of sludge that caused an ecological crisis downstream of the dam. Even though only a small corner of District 42 is in Allegan County the voters here want representation from their State Congressional leadership.
State House District 43: This is definitely an opportunity to have Allegan County representation in Lansing. Republican Nevin Cooper-Keel (Allegan) is running against Phillip Joseph (Delton), Lindsay Kronemeyer (Dorr) and Rachelle Smit (Shelbyville) to be the Republican representative on the November ballot. Though District 43 has a sliver going into Ottawa County and a dogleg to the right in Barry County and a township in Eaton Counties, most of the district is Allegan County – Allegan, Clyde, Dorr, Fillmore, Heath, Hopkins, Manlius, Martin, Monterey, Overisel, Salem, Valley, Watson, and Wayland including the municipalities of Hopkins, Martin, Wayland and Allegan. The Kalamazoo River and its tributaries run through much of this area plus the rural areas have limited Broadband in large sections.
State House District 79: Manlius Township is the only Allegan County representation in the 79th District. Ryan Gallogly (Byron Center), Jeremiah Keeler (Caledonia) and Angela Rigas (Alto) vie to represent the Republican party again Democrat Kimberly Kennedy-Barrington in November. This district may be influenced by the more affluent southern townships of Kent County and a few townships in Barry County.
State House District 86: Laketown Township and the southern Holland precincts are joined onto a large portion of Ottawa County. Republicans Nancy DeBoer (Holland) and Seth Getz (Holland) will attempt to be the Republican on the November ballot to run against Larry Jackson (Holland).
State Senate 18th District: Republican candidates incumbent Thomas Albert (Lowell, previously District 86) and Ryan Mancinelli (Alton) want the slot. Allegan County voters in Cheshire, Gun Plain, Leighton, Martin, Otsego, Wayland, and Watson Townships along with Wayland, Otsego and Plainwell will help decide which Republican candidate will run against Democrat Kai DeGraaf (Ada) in November.
State Senate 20th District: Republican candidates Kaleb Hudson (Grand Rapids), Austin Kreutz (Allegan) and incumbent Aric Nesbitt (Lawton, previous District 26) will vie for the Republican slot. The greatest land mass of Allegan County votes for these candidates – Allegan, Casco, Cheshire, Clyde, Dorr, Ganges, Heath, Hopkins, Lee, Manlius, Monterey, Overisel, Salem, Saugatuck, and Valley Townships along with the City of Allegan. The winner of the Republican nomination will compete with Democrat Kim Jorgensen Gane (Benton Harbor) in November.
State Senate 31st District: Republicans Brian VanDussen (Zeeland) goes against incumbent Roger Victory (Hudsonville, previously District 30) for this seat which includes Fillmore and Laketown Townships and the southern precincts of Holland. Most of the 31st Senate District is a large chunk of Ottawa County so Allegan County voters will need to know which candidate will best represent Allegan County and who is best to go against Democrat Kim Nagy (Jenison) in November.
Federal House of Representatives
With the retirement of U.S. Representative Fred Upton, the field is clear for Bill Huizenga to be the Republican nominee for the November election. Joseph Alfonzo was disqualified as the Democrat nominee on a technicality, but there is a drive to allow him to run as a write-in candidate. That is yet to be verified.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer will once again represent the Democratic Party. The Republicans have a list of possibilities. Tudor Dix comes from Lansing. Ralph Rebandt is from Farmington Hills. Kevin Rinke is from Bloomfield Hills. Garrett Soldano hales from Mattawan. Ryan Kelley, who currently has legal action pending, comes from Allendale. There are a variety of issues that face anyone in the governor seat. Voters must examine the background of each candidate to determine how the candidate will address the issues and if the candidate understands the concerns of the residents in Allegan County.
The August 2nd Primary Election will be challenging to voters of Allegan County, especially those in the Republican Party, since the primary ballot is stuffed with candidates who carry views and agendas that may or may not fit the needs of the county and its diverse population. The critical point to remember is to vote on August 2nd either by Absentee Ballot or in person to ensure that your favorite candidates will be on the ballot for the November election.