Four file to fill Roberts’ term-limited seat in state House

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published May 2, 2016




ST. CLAIR SHORES — With the current representative term-limited out of office, four newcomers are throwing their hats into the ring to compete for the 18th District of the state House of Representatives. 

The position is currently held by state Rep. Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores. But she is in her third term in office, and Michigan election law limits state legislators to three two-year terms, or six years, in office.

Roberts said her term ends Dec. 31.

“I still have eight months left to serve as state representative, so that’s my priority, but I’m exploring other options,” she said. “They just won’t be elected office.”

One Republican and three Democrats have filed to run in the Aug. 2 primary election with the Macomb County Clerk’s Office. Renata Polonaise, of Grosse Pointe, is the only Republican to file. She will challenge one of three Democrats in the November general election: Steven Joseph Fleck, of Eastpointe, or St. Clair Shores residents Paul R. Francis and Kevin Hertel.

Polonaise said she is self-employed in real estate and raised two sons as a single mother. 

“I’m not a politician and I hope I will never become one. I just see that there are so many things that need to be done, and when politicians get in the office it’s all about politics and never about the people,” she said. “That’s what inspired me to run.”

She said she hopes to be able to work with local leaders and residents to make Michigan a better place to live and take care of the schools, roads and infrastructure. 

“For the St. Clair Shores area, I am hoping that somehow we would be able to revive the marinas and the lakes and bring more business, because it’s such a beautiful area and it’s not being productive for (its) potential,” she said. 

Hertel works in an administrative role for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and is involved with different organizations throughout the community.

He said he wanted to run for office because he was raised in a family with a strong dedication to public service.

“We should all be involved in our community in the best way, the most effective way we can be,” he said. “This is a way I can have a positive impact on my community and the state.”

Hertel said he is frustrated with “the way that Lansing is currently not working for our local communities,” with cuts to revenue sharing and no plan to fix Michigan’s roads.

Francis said he’s running to “get a voice out there that could hopefully bring the two parties together.”

He said he’d also like to help diversify the economy to attract new business to Michigan.

If “we start promoting the state properly, we can definitely diversify and get some high-tech business to move to Michigan,” Francis said. 

Francis works in sales for a manufacturer of sealant and products for log homes, and he also co-owns a firewood business.

Fleck did not return a request for comment by press time.

At the county level, St. Clair Shores Republican Ryan Hurd has filed to run against incumbent District 3 Macomb County Commissioner Veronica Klinefelt, D-Eastpointe. District 3 encompasses the southern portion of St. Clair Shores. The northern portion of the city is covered by District 10, which is currently represented by Steve Marino, R-Harrison Township. 

Marino, however, has filed to run for the 24th District of the state House of Representatives, which does not include St. Clair Shores. Filing to run for his county seat are Republicans Greg Fedon, of Warren, and Linda Burns Torp, of Harrison Township, and Democrats Michael Boyle, of St. Clair Shores, and Harrison Township residents Raymond D. Contesti, Jimmy Gwizdala, Robert A. Leonetti and Matt Wojcik.

Check back to for coverage of the Lake Shore Public Schools bond election.