2018-02-08 / Front Page

Wessell is 1st commissioner filing to run

By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff

County commissioner Ty Wessell of Northport is certainly ahead of the power curve.

He’s already met the April 24 deadline for filing his nominating petition and an Affidavit of Identity to run for re-election.

“We welcome candidates who file early,” said Leelanau County Clerk Michelle Crocker, who is responsible for administering elections in the county. “If there’s something wrong with your paperwork, we can’t help you if you’ve waited until 4 p.m. on the final deadline date to file.”

The process of filing to run for office in Leelanau County is not all that onerous. An Affidavit of Identity consists of little more than a form you fill out confirming who you are and where you live. The petition you need file to run for most county offices usually requires only a handful of signatures.

It promises to be an important and contentious election year nationally even though the next presidential election is two years off.

And Leelanau County already has its first candidate for a state elected position. Kathy Wiejaczka of Empire has filed as a Democrat seeking to unseat first-term State House Rep. Curt VanderWall of Ludington. House District 101 includes Leelanau, Benzie, Manistee and Mason counties.

First-term U.S. Cong. Jack Bergman, who represents the 1st Congressional District, is expected to face opposition for re-election to another two-year term. Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a three-term incumbent, will also face opposition.

And State Sen. Darwin Booher is term-limited and will need to be replaced by voters in the wide-ranging district.

Locally, all seven seats on the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners will need to be filled as they are every two years. Primary Election voters in August will decide slates of candidates for political parties in the General Election.

Republicans had dominated County Board seats until 2008 when the first Democrat in recent history was elected to the County Board.

The only other countywide elected positions to be decided by voters will be three seats on the Leelanau County Road Commission. The County Board last year decided to increase membership on the Road Commission from three to five members, with three seats filled in the General Election.

The seat currently held by Road Commissioner James Calhoun will be up for re-election along with two new seats. The new seats will be for six- and four-year terms. No one has yet filed to run.

No other county positions are up for election this year, nor are any township positions. Roughly half of the positions on the three village councils in Leelanau County will need to be filled in 2018, however. In addition, certain school board seats will need to be filled.

Because village and school board seats are nonpartisan in nature, the deadline to apply to run in November is July 24.

Candidates without party affiliation running for other positions in the Nov. 6 General Election have until July 19 to file.

Ty Wessell, a Democrat, has already signed up to run for his party’s nomination in District No. 4 in August and hopes to run unopposed in the General Election. No one has filed to challenge him yet.

“I am eager to keep working – and that’s why I was eager to file early,” Wessell said. “I consider it an honor and a privilege to serve, and I’m looking forward to the campaign ahead.”

The last day for voters to register for the August primary is July 9. The last day for voters to register for the November general election is Oct. 9.

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