EASTPOINTE — With 63 percent of voters opting for the Democratic nominee, Eastpointe resident Veronica Klinefelt nabbed the District 3 seat on the Macomb County Board of Commissioners.
“I’m really excited about taking on this new challenge,” Klinefelt said the morning after the election. “I’m looking forward to working with the commissioners up there for the betterment of government in Macomb County.”
She spent election night surrounded by family, friends and past fellow council-members-turned- friends. Many of them braved the cold, handing out her literature at the polls.
Councilwoman Wendy Richardson represented Klinefelt at Precincts 7 and 8 at the community center in the morning and Precinct 6 at Pleasantview Elementary School in the evening.
“I’m so excited about the heavy turnout that has been all through Eastpointe,” Richardson said.
Councilman Phil Gaustella and Mayor Pro Tem Bill Sweeney were on hand supporting Klinefelt’s campaign and celebrating early wins in Eastpointe and Warren, as results began rolling in around 9 p.m., but with opponent Randell Shafer hailing from St. Clair Shores, Klinefelt refused to claim a victory until almost midnight, when reports from all the precincts there were in.
Klinefelt won three of the four cities with precincts in District 3 — in Eastpointe she won with 11,223 votes to Shafer’s 2,207 votes; in St. Clair Shores, Klinefelt brought in 5,478 votes to Shafer’s 4,959 votes; and in Warren, she won with 2,656 votes to Shafer’s 1,025. Only in Grosse Pointe Shores did Shafer beat out Klinefelt, with 24 votes to her 12 votes.
While excited to be moving on from the election, Klinefelt expressed gratitude toward her opponent. “Randell Shafer ran a good, clean race and I wish him the best,” she said.
“I would like to say congratulations to Veronica Klinefelt — I wish her luck on the Board of Commissioners — and thank you to all my supporters and for the support of my family and friends,” Shafer said.
Councilman Ron LaForest never served with Klinefelt, but he worked her campaign, saying he really believes she is the best person for the job.
“I believe with Veronica’s experience, professionalism and knowledge, she brings hope to the county. It is a privilege to have someone like Veronica being an Eastpointe resident and working on the county level. I just know she is going to do great things and I’m really excited about that.”
Klinefelt comes to the position with more than a decade of experience, having served six years as a trustee on the East Detroit Board of Education and eight years as mayor pro tem on City Council in Eastpointe.
She’s coming to the board at the tail end of a struggle to define powers. According to the county charter, the 13-member commission is responsible for adopting ordinances, establishing committees, approving contracts, levying taxes and appropriating funds, submitting tax and ballot proposals, approving the budget and approving or rejecting executive appointments; but when, in 2008, voters approved the inclusion of a county executive, the responsibilities of the board came into question — particularly if contracts for more than $35,000 had to go through the commission for approval.
After a power struggle between the two branches, County Executive Mark Hackel filed a suit against the board in early 2012, and Macomb County Circuit Court Judge John Foster ruled in his favor May 14. The board appealed the ruling and the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in their favor Oct. 31, ruling that contracting and purchasing activities were subject to their discretion.
It’s an issue Klinefelt has been following closely. She’s very pleased with the court’s most recent decision.
“I believe the appellate court decision more accurately reflects the intent of the Charter Commission, as well as the intent of the voters when they approved the charter,” Klinefelt said.
Klinefelt will take her spot on the Macomb County Board of Commissioners in January.
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