Signs direct voters at Blossom Heath Inn Aug. 3.

Signs direct voters at Blossom Heath Inn Aug. 3.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske


Incumbents lead primary pack in St. Clair Shores council race

Top six move on to November election

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published August 4, 2021

 Voters cast ballots for the St. Clair Shores City Council Primary and a primary for a special election to fill a partial term for the 8th District state Senate seat.

Voters cast ballots for the St. Clair Shores City Council Primary and a primary for a special election to fill a partial term for the 8th District state Senate seat.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — An unprecedented number of candidates has been whittled down to six who will proceed to the general election in November to compete for three seats on St. Clair Shores City Council.

Unofficial election results from the Macomb County Clerk’s Office show the three incumbents — Candice Rusie, Dave Rubello and John Caron — as the top three vote-getters in the Aug. 3 primary election, with Jennifer Oresti, Justin Maniaci and Lawanda Turner garnering more votes than the other seven residents running. Those six candidates will proceed to the Nov. 2 election, when St. Clair Shores residents will select three people to serve four-year terms on council.

In total, Rusie took in 7,099 votes, or 25.3%; Rubello won 6,728 votes (24%); Caron earned 4,709 votes (16.8%); Oresti received 1,553 votes (5.5%); Maniaci had 1,342 votes (4.8%); and Turner earned 1,272 votes (4.5%). There was a total voter turnout of 20.9%.

Candidates Dustin Hoffman, Michael Smiatacz Jr., Angela Washington, Nicholas Handy, Nathaniel Bean, Mark Fuga, and Joseph Fuga fell short and won’t move onto the November election.

“It’s a chance we get twice a year,” said voter Elizabeth Abel. “I like to show my kids it’s important, if you want to have a say, to vote.”

She said she wasn’t looking for any change in city leadership.

“I’m happy with the city I live in,” she said.

Caron said he thought the election results showed other residents felt the same as Abel.

“People are very happy with the direction the city is going in,” he said he believed the results showed. “The margin between the incumbents and the challengers is the largest I’ve ever seen in any past election in the city. That shows that we’re moving everything in the right direction for the city, and the voters agree with that.”

Rusie agreed the results showed residents are “pretty happy and satisfied” with the direction of the city.

“It’s a tremendous honor, being chosen to go on to the November ballot, and I really appreciate the residents’ support,” she said. “I feel very positively about that, that we’re making the right decisions and people appreciate that.”

Rubello said he felt “good vibrations” from the people of St. Clair Shores in the results.

“It feels good to have the support of people, the trust of people in St. Clair Shores,” he said. “I work hard at what I do, and it feels good to see results like this when people vote.”

The challengers saw the results a little differently and say they’re excited to be moving on to the November general election.

Oresti said it meant a lot to her that she made it through.

“I think that is because voters believe in the campaign I’m creating, which is a campaign for them,” she said. “I want to continue to do the work of talking to people about the issues that matter to them and ... how we can better empower them so they feel supported by their city.”

Like the other candidates, Maniaci wanted to thank the St. Clair Shores residents who voted for him.

“We are at a moment in the city where there is unlimited potential,” he said. “St. Clair Shores is the shining star of the eastside, but we will shine no more if our dated infrastructure keeps flooding our streets, our homes and polluting our precious Lake St. Clair.”

The city is ready for more diversity and inclusion, Turner said.

“I just think the city and residents are screaming that they want a diverse, inclusive city where ideas matter, where experience and educational background matters, and I am happy to bring all of those things to the table,” she said.

Voting Aug. 3, Melissa Younes said she thought the fact that so many candidates were running for City Council showed that residents were looking for something different in St. Clair Shores.

“It sounds like they want change,” she said. Change is needed, she added, “in all forms of politics.”

Ron Bartley, however, said he is pleased with the current leadership in St. Clair Shores.

“We’re content with the direction that the Shores is going,” he said. “The people that are running have good characteristics.”

Walking into Blossom Heath Inn to cast her vote, Karen Palonis said she was hoping to help Rusie win reelection.

“She’s so responsive to the community’s needs,” Palonis said.

She wasn’t surprised at the pool of 13 candidates running for the office.

“It’s a pretty big community. There’s a lot of people who have done a lot of good in the city.”

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