Primary election narrows field for council, mayor in Sterling Heights

By: Andy Kozlowski | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published August 4, 2021


During the primary election in Sterling Heights Aug. 3, a field of 15 council candidates were narrowed to 12 who will advance to the general election in November. Likewise, three candidates for mayor were reduced to two. 

In the race for Sterling Heights City Council, there will be six seats up for grabs in November, each for a four-year term. The 12 candidates who prevailed in the primary include:

1. Liz Sierawski, with 10.7% of the vote (8,450 votes).

2. Barbara Ziarko, with 9.8% (7,734 votes).

3. Maria Schmidt, with 9.7% (7,674 votes).

4. Deanna Koski, with 9.4% (7,471 votes).

5. Henry Yanez, with 9.4% (7,407 votes).

6. Michael Radtke, with 8.8% (6,960 votes).

7. Moira Smith, with 6.1% (4,844 votes).

8. Paul Manni, with 6.1%  (4,817 votes).

9. Elizabeth Hanna, with 5.1% (4,032 votes).

10. Eric Briskey II, with 4.9% (3,839 votes).

11. Roy Wilson, with 4.8% (3,813 votes).

12. Russ Cleary, with 4.1% (3,260 votes).

The 12 include all six incumbents: Koski, Radtke, Schmidt, Sierawski, Yanez and Ziarko.

The three candidates who did not make the cut include Kelley Skillin, with 4% (3,139 votes); Nicholas Cavalli, with 3.7% (2,960 votes); and Steven Bahoura, with 3.5% (2,736 votes).

In the primary for mayor, incumbent Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor finished first with 62.6% of the vote (9,476 votes), followed by Ken Nelson at 32.8% (4,961 votes). They will compete for one four-year term as mayor in November. The third candidate, Charles Jefferson, came up short at 4.6% (693 votes). 

All 32 precincts in Sterling Heights had reported their results by the end of the night Aug. 3.

This election cycle is notable in that it is the first election since voters approved changes last November that increased the length of terms while reducing the signature requirements to run. 

Mayoral and council terms were increased from two years to four years. At the same time, candidates now only need 400 signatures to run — a reduction from the previous requirement of valid signatures from at least 1% of the city’s registered voters. City officials last year informally referred to the two proposals as “4 & 400.”

Skillin, one of the council candidates who will not advance, said in an email that she will continue to be involved. 

“While I didn’t make it through the primary, the best part of campaigning has been getting to talk to the people who live here and hearing their stories,” Skillin said. “My campaign has always been about increasing the number of voices in local politics. While I may not be on the November ballot, I will continue to fight for the people in my community and the issues I believe in. Thank you to everyone who supported my campaign, and the best of luck to those still in the race!”

At press time, the Sterling Heights Sentry was seeking comment from the other candidates. 

Call Staff Writer Andy Kozlowski at (586) 279-1104.