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Harrison Township election results

Library millage fails

By: Nick Mordowanec | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published August 5, 2020


HARRISON TOWNSHIP — A total of 39.6% of voters in Harrison Township elected a clerk, a treasurer and a slew of trustee candidates that will battle again this November, while a library millage was rejected by double digits.

Registered voters totaled 8,175, including 5,484 absentee ballots. The township’s 10 precincts were all open and offered in-person voters and polling workers with personal protective equipment.

Incumbent Republican Clerk Adam Wit defeated challenger Lisa Sinclair 63% to 37%. Wit, who was originally elected in 2012, said he’s “excited, honored and privileged” to serve his third term in the community in which he grew up.

Wit was part of a political slate of candidates who did quite well on primary day, featuring Supervisor Ken Verkest (who ran unopposed), new Treasurer Larry Tomenello and Republican trustees Paula Rose, Brian Batkins, David Bratto and Dean Olgiati.

Looking ahead to the next four years, when the new term starts Nov. 20, Wit said, “I think we need to focus on what we’ve been doing” regarding infrastructure and public safety.

“The answer from voters was supporting the majority of the board,” he said.

Tomenello said he looks forward “to making a lot of improvements in the Treasurer’s Office,” including securing funds in anticipation of state revenue sharing losses due to COVID-19 and making advancements in audio and video services for cable improvements.

“The people picked on the slate by the supervisor — the reason he picked them was because all the candidates in the slate had previous experience in leadership and proven records for either political offices or other boards or leadership roles,” Tomenello said. “I think it was a good choice, and the residents saw that.”

Aside from his own future office, Tomenello said he wants the city to address infrastructure and code enforcement. He is against selective enforcement and aims to utilize funding mechanisms that could possibly leverage building officials to “be proactive and not reactive.”

A plan needs to be instituted to use available dollars and allocate them responsibly, he added.

“Like everyone in Michigan and across the country, our water and sewer infrastructure is aging,” he said. “It’s out of sight and out of mind, but it’s underground and failing.”

Rose, who garnered the most votes of the 11 Republican trustee candidates, was “overjoyed.” An “outsider” by some accounts, she said people knew her name from her work with school districts, churches and youth soccer associations.

“I just think it’s a testament to our name and involvement in the community over the years, and it just came to fruition. … I think (being part of the slate) definitely gave me validation that Ken Verkest knew who I was. I’m not a close friend of Ken’s at all, but I admire his ability to lead.”

Rose possesses a marketing background and said the township needs to do a better job getting the word out on the community, notably in the vein of attracting businesses. Along with business growth is a focus on infrastructure, with Rose highlighting roads and downtown development.

Library millage fails
Harrison Township Public Library Director Melissa Goins said the morning after the primary that “a loss is difficult.”

By about a 15-point margin, township voters rejected a 1-mill, 10-year millage that would have improved staffing, technology, business hours, electronic resources and added amenities.

The millage, if successful, was promised to replace the current .5 mills set to expire in 2023.

Ballot language never actually included the term “replacement.” Goins said the only way the language could be written was the way it was, by asking for 1 mill and rolling back the existing .5 mill resolution, due to it already being previously approved.

She said there was a “trust factor” that was “not well received.”

“What we did hear from many people is they weren’t opposed to the library and they weren’t even opposed to the millage,” Goins said. “They were opposed to the way the millage was written. … Ultimately, I think that was the thing that gave voters some caution.”

Asked if there was a misinformation campaign against the library millage, in terms of purported tax increases and what the library offers, Goins said “absolutely.”

“There was a lot of misinformation online,” she said. “We’re a library and are the information people. As a library, we know just because you read it on the internet, you don’t know that it’s true. We weren’t surprised. … What was more surprising is that people were more willing to accept what’s put out there on the internet.”

A Clinton-Macomb Public Library millage proposal, and a Mount Clemens library bonding proposal, were both overwhelmingly successful. Goins was happy for them, adding that a challenge for her library is to make people understand everything the library offers in this day and age.

“People think libraries are just books,” she said. “It’s a big hurdle because people who think libraries are just books haven’t been to a library in a while.”

Leonetti edges Grant in primary
In District 10 of the Macomb County Board of Commissioners, incumbent Robert Leonetti beat out Carol Grant to win the Democratic nomination for the seat. Leonetti received 4,007 votes, or 52.8%, compared with Grant’s 3,578 votes, or 47.2%.

“It was close,” said Leonetti, who is running for his third two-year term of office. “Carol was a good candidate, and it was a close race.”

He said he is grateful for the voters who supported him and looks forward to the November election, where he will face Barbara Zinner, who ran unopposed on the Republican ticket.

“I’m going to continue to do the things that I’ve done for the district,” which Leonetti explained includes working to keep Lake St. Clair clean, reforming government and keeping government transparent.

Staff Writer Kristyne Demske contributed to this report.