Democratic primary winner Mai Xiong, center, said if she wins the Board of Commissioner's District 2 seat in November,  she would become the first member of the Hmong community elected to a Macomb County office.

Democratic primary winner Mai Xiong, center, said if she wins the Board of Commissioner's District 2 seat in November, she would become the first member of the Hmong community elected to a Macomb County office.

Photo provided by Mai Xiong


Macomb County board incumbents fall in Democratic primary in Warren, Center Line

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published August 5, 2020

 Michelle Nard

Michelle Nard

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CENTER LINE/WARREN — There’s a big shake-up coming on the Macomb County Board of Commissioners.

Two incumbents in districts representing neighborhoods in Warren and Center Line fell to Democratic challengers in the primary election Aug. 4.

In District 2, Mai Xiong soundly defeated longtime incumbent County Commissioner Marvin Sauger. Xiong won by 934 votes (12.3%) and received 36.9% (2,797 votes) of the total votes cast in a field of five candidates on the Democratic side of the primary ballot.

Sauger finished second with 1,863 votes (24.6%), followed by former Warren City Council member Robert Boccomino (1,009 votes), Jacqueline Sproles (960 votes) and Danielle Paniccia Khalil (944 votes).

“I’m overjoyed. I’m so happy,” said Xiong, 35, who owns a specialty clothing store on 12 Mile Road in Warren and passed out handmade face masks to hundreds of local seniors after her shop shut down in March at the onset of the pandemic. “The hard work really paid off. We worked extremely hard since January, even given the pandemic, the circumstances surrounding that. We had to sort of change our strategy.

“I want to thank all of the voters for believing in me and the campaign,” Xiong said. “I think people are hungry for change. They want to see people who are active and engaged and really are representative of the district, which has become more diverse.”

Xiong will now face Republican Peter Fuciarelli, who passed through the primary unopposed, in the race for the seat in November. If she wins, she said she would become the first member of the Hmong community elected to a Macomb County office.

She said her family fled Laos during the Vietnam War and that she was born in a refugee camp in Thailand. Xiong came to the United States in 1987, grew up in Ohio and moved to metro Detroit in 2003, where she went to college at the College for Creative Studies.

Sauger said he’s spent the last 23 years representing residents of Warren and Center Line on the Macomb County Board of Commissioners and that he’s proud of what he’s done and of those he’s represented.

“I know nothing about her (Mai Xiong). She won it, so good luck to her,” Sauger said. “I’ve kept my head up high. I’ve never had a negative write-up in my 23 years. There’s nothing I would change.”

In District 1, Michelle Nard bested incumbent County Commissioner Andrey Duzyj by 67 votes to win the Democratic primary election for the seat representing part of Warren on the board. Nard garnered 2,583 votes (34.5%) to Duzyj’s 2,516 (33.6%). Terry Wisnieweski finished third in the Democratic field, with 2,382 votes (31.8%).

“First of all, I’m very excited and kind of shocked a little bit because I wasn’t able to get out and do what I normally would do in an election,” Nard said. “I guess people’s work and background in the community speaks for itself. I didn’t have to spend a lot of money. I didn’t attach myself to any groups because I didn’t want to be bought and answer to people who put money in my campaign.”

Nard ran three times for Warren City Council and said family members have been involved in politics in Flint. She started a home care business years ago and now, at 59, has spent time taking care of her grandchildren.  

“I just want to make sure the money is being used for what is intended,” Nard said. “I’ve got a lot invested in this community. I just want a seat at the table and see what I can bring with my creativity. It’s an exciting time for Macomb County.”

Nard will face Republican Mary Ellen Childs in November, who ran unopposed in the primary.

Duzyj was elected to a total of six two-year terms on the board: three prior to and three after a span of six years from 2010 to 2015.

“I commend everybody for the race they ran, and I’m very thankful to the electors for allowing me the honor of representing them for six terms,” Duzyj said. “I hope I did it right, and I’m very proud of what we were able to accomplish going into the future.”

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