Bonnell, Chirkun win state representative primaries

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published August 13, 2014

ROSEVILLE — Roseville Mayor John Chirkun and Jeff Bonnell succeeded in their bids for the Democratic and Republican nominations, respectively, for the Michigan House of Representatives’ 22nd District.

Chirkun took the Democratic Party nomination with 3,009 votes to Gary McMenamin’s 1,288 votes. On the Republican side, Bonnell won with 1,222 votes to Art Blundell’s 958. Bonnell and Chirkun will compete against each other on the November ballot for the seat held by the outgoing Rep. Harold Haugh.

Roseville City Clerk Richard Steenland said turnout was about 12.2 percent, in line with what he expected it to be. The city had 4,184 ballots cast out of about 34,300 registered voters.

Storms in the first part of the day did cause some havoc with power outages at some of the precincts, he said, and they had problems at City Hall, as well.

“We thought there was a fire, but it turned out to be something on the roof — a compressor or something burned out and sent smoke out to the absentee counting board’s room, who are supposed to be sequestered,” Steenland said. “It did set us back a couple hours until we had the building cleared, but the good news was we were still able to stay on track with the (counting) process.”

Chirkun said he was pleasantly surprised by the results and is looking forward to November’s general election. He said he plans on running the general campaign much the same as his primary one.

“I’m going to knock on doors, I’m going to (do more) mail, and I’m going to go to different events in both cities: Warren and Roseville,” Chirkun said. “Get out there and meet more people.”

Bonnell said he was not necessarily running against his opponent for the nomination, Blundell, as they were both running for the same idea. He said he squeaked by him, but being up against Roseville’s mayor in a Democratic-leaning area is going to be a challenge.

“As long as I can get my message out and I can get the voters out more than (Chirkun) can, I say I stand a good chance of actually winning it in November,” Bonnell said.

Blundell said he was more “appalled” by the low voter turnout and interest level rather than the fact that he did not win the Republican primary. McMenamin could not be reached at press time.

Steenland praised the election staff for its work that day, as well as the work the city’s Police and Fire departments did when all the smoke came down. He said Fire Chief Mike Holland ordered his firefighters not to disturb the counting room unless absolutely necessary, and Police Chief James Berlin sent a couple officers over to ensure the integrity of the voting process during the emergency.

Steenland added that based on complaints he has heard from voters, he thinks the low primary voter turnout could be because voters cannot split their tickets. He said he does not have the authority to change that rule, however.