On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, the polls were bustling and in some cases there were long lines at the polls throughout Harbor County as anxious voters cast their ballots for the Presidential election as well as local elections.
Increased voter registration, mild weather and absentee voting made for a larger than normal voter turn-out. Although rain threatened and winds picked up as the day went on, the temperatures were in the 50 degree range.
In addition to the National Presidential elections there were state, county and local elections in all of the local municipalities; City of New Buffalo, New Buffalo Township and the Village of Grand Beach, Chikaming Township, Three Oaks Township and the Villages of Three Oaks and Michiana. The local elections were held to fill seats on the municipal boards, school boards, park boards, library boards and councils and to vote on referendum proposals.
There were a high number of absentee voters throughout the municipalities, which meant counting the ballots took longer and the candidates and their supporters were kept anxiously awaiting for the local results.
The City of New Buffalo has registered 1,727 voters; 959 cast their ballots,there were 222 absentee ballots cast.
The City of New Buffalo election saw a highly competitive field of ten candidates running for three City Council seats and two candidates competing in a recall election. Despite lengthy and strongly contested campaigns, the incumbents prevailed at the polls and returned to office. The voters also voted in favor of the $4 million dollar bond referendum proposal and the Lake Michigan College 0.48 millage request.
Running on the City of New Buffalo ballot were ten candidates for three open council seats with expirations in November 2019. In addition, Ray Kirkus ran against Mayor Lou O’Donnell IV in a recall election; that seat expires in November 2018. The city voters also cast their ballots on the proposed $4 million dollar bond referendum and on the Lake Michigan College 0.48 millage request.
In the recall election, Mayor Lou O’Donnell IV received 475 votes, defeating Ray Kirkus who received 331 votes.
The voters elected three City Council members: Elizabeth Ennis, Mark Kroll and Robert Spirito. Ennis received 404 votes, incumbent councilman Kroll received 363 votes and Spirito received 345 votes to fill the three council seats.
Also running were: Ray Lawson – 254 votes, Diana Nichols – 237 votes, John Sayne – 185 votes, Jeanette Kirkus – 155 votes, Lea Grzywacz – 123 votes, Kevin Huber – 107 votes and Si Osiri – 74 votes.
The voters approved the following bond referendum by a vote of 594 to 317 votes:
“CITY OF NEW BUFFALO BOND PROPOSAL Shall the City of New Buffalo, County of Berrien, Michigan, borrow the principal sum of not to exceed Four Million Dollars ($4,000,000) payable in not to exceed fifteen (15) years from the date of issue, and issue its limited tax general obligation bonds, in one or more series, for the purpose of paying all or part of the cost of the planning, engineering, design and construction of municipal infrastructure improvements, including, but not limited to, improvements to the water distribution system, sanitary and storm sewer facilities, streets, curbs, gutters, sidewalks, public parking facilities, public restroom facilities, and the fire station parking lot; a bridge over the Galien River; and the relocation of overhead power and communications facilities, together with all appurtenances and attachments thereto.”
The City of New Buffalo voters approved the 0.48 millage request for Lake Michigan College by a narrow margin of 414 votes to 407 votes.
New Buffalo Township has 2,095 registered voters and 1,032 cast their ballots (including absentee ballots).
In New Buffalo Township, the voters elected former trustee Michelle Heit to be their new Township Supervisor. She defeated former Supervisor Rose Dudiak, who ran as a write-in candidate.
Heit received 796 votes, Dudiak received 159 write-in votes.
For the New Buffalo Township Board positions, the following were elected: Incumbent Treasurer Jack Rogers (D) defeated write-in candidate Barbara Anderson by a margin of 731 to Anderson’s 205 write-in votes.
For the Clerk position, Judith Handley Zabicki (D) defeated incumbent Paul D. Oselka (R) by a margin of 681 to Oselka’s 578 votes.
The open two trustee positions were won by Patricia Iazzetto (R) who received 759 votes and incumbent Pete Rahm who received 653 votes. Shannon Shawver (D) received 600 votes.
In the Village of Grand Beach, two unopposed councilmen were re-elected. Jim Bracewell received 120 votes and Blake O’Halloran received 120 votes.
New Buffalo Area School Board had three open positions. Elected to the NBAS board are: Chuck Heit, Heather Black and Lisa J. Werner. Heit retained his seat on the board with 1,197 votes.
Werner received 964 votes to retain her seat and Black garnered 856 votes. Candidate Joyce Lantz received 830 votes and Lisa Tertel received 618 votes.
All of the six candidates running won their bid for seats on the New Buffalo Township Library Board, which had six open seats. Those are: Becky Borglin – 708 votes; Kathie Butler – 679 votes; Paul Ciccarelli – 583 votes ; Mary Stewart McPherson – 571 votes; Albin Sikora – 539 votes and Sandra Sporleder – 564 votes.
The voters in Chikaming Township also cast ballots for River Valley School Board (2,476 voters) and New Buffalo Area School Board (214 voters).
In Chikaming Township, challenger David Bunte defeated incumbent Township Supervisor Wayne Warner. Bunte received 917 votes, Warner received 662 votes. Running unopposed were incumbents: Clerk Paula Dudiak received 1222 votes; Treasurer Liz Rettig received 1145 votes; Trustee William Marske received 1089 votes and Trustee Rich Sullivan received 990 votes.
For Chikaming Park Board, seven seats were open with nine candidates running. The following were elected: Joseph Reed – 814 votes, Janet Schrader – 938 votes, Kathy Sellers – 827 votes and Shelly Taylor – 836 votes. As of press time, write-in candidates Deborah Hall, Enrico Heirman and Jill Underhill were declared “unofficial winners” of the remaining three seats, with the official results to be confirmed by the county.
The voters approved the 0.48 millage request for Lake Michigan College by a vote of 938 to 697.
Three Oaks Township elected candidates who were all unopposed: Supervisor George Mangold received 923 votes. Incumbents: Clerk Elizabeth Cummings – 910 votes; Treasurer Kathleen Osburn – 916 votes; and Trustees Rexalee Gordon – 753 votes and Christian P. Mitchell – 726 votes.
The Village of Three Oaks cast their ballots for incumbent President David Grosse, who ran unopposed, he received 485 votes.
For The Village of Three Oaks Council, with three open seats: Incumbent Cheryl Capiak received 343 votes, Johnny Pappa received 257 votes and Troy Zebell received 330 votes versus challengers, Dustin Blaszczyk who received 220 votes and Brendan Wagner, who eceived 188 votes.
River Valley School Board had two positions open: Incumbent Michael Ehlert received 1688 votes and Cheryl Capiak received 1649 votes. Jon Cory German received 1216 votes while Jennifer Alderink received 1218 votes.
The Village of Michiana elected three councilpersons: Timothy R. Iverson, Michael R. Mintz and Don Zion.
The voters approved an Emergency Millage by a vote of 72 votes to 40 votes.
The millage approved is: “EMERGENCY SERVICES MILLAGE FOR POLICE, FIRE & AMBULANCE SERVICE”
“In support of the continued operation of the Village of Michiana, Berrien County, Michigan, Police, Fire & Ambulance service and continued operating expenses for Emergency Services including Police, Fire & Ambulance service, shall the Village levy 1 (one) mill which is equal to $1.00 (one dollar) for each $1,000.00 (one thousand dollars) of real and personal property subject to taxation. Said millage will be used for emergency services equipment and general operating expenses for emergency services. Said millage, if approved by the electors of the Village of Michiana, will be levied for a period of 5 (five) years, starting in 2017 and ending in 2021. It is estimated that the levy will generate approximately $70,000 in the first year.”
In Berrien County, Challenger Ezra Scott (R) defeated Incumbent County Commissioner 9th District Andy Vavra (D) by a vote of 3384 to 2993. Sheriff Paul Bailey won with 48,586 votes, defeating challenger Rick Briand who received 9,164 votes. Both U.S. Congressman Fred Upton and 78th District State Representative Dave Pagel were reelected. Republican Fred Upton received 24,511 votes to Democrat Paul Clements’ 11,917 votes and Libertarian Lorence Wenke’s 1,698 votes. 78th District State Representative Republican Pagel received 9,098 votes in defeating Democrat Dean E. Hill who received 4,564 votes.
Countywide, voters approved the 0.48 millage request for Lake Michigan College with 34,591 votes to 34,082 votes:
“CAPITAL MILLAGE PROPOSAL
Shall the charter tax rate limitation, previously approved by the electors of Lake Michigan College District, Michigan, for levy on all real and personal property within said District, be increased by .48 mill ($0.48 per $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a period of 10 years (2017 to 2026, inclusive), for the purpose of safety and security improvements, energy efficiency upgrades, renovation of instructional spaces, instructional technology upgrades, and other capital improvements, which if approved, is expected to raise approximately $4,364,000 in the first year (2017) of such a levy.”
The final victor in the National Presidential election was Donald J. Trump. In Berrien County, with 40 of 77 precincts reporting, the Presidential race was won by Republican candidate Trump, who received 21,872 votes, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton received 14,369 votes. Libertarian Gary Johnson received 1610, U.S. Taxpayer Darrell L. Castle received 156, Green Party Jill Stein received 386, Natural Law Emidio Mimi Soltysik received 14.
For further countywide election results visit www.berriencounty.org, go to Clerk’s office, choose elections on left side of screen.