New trustees elected to Harrison Township board

Incumbents retain top political seats

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published November 11, 2016

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HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Republicans are in full control in Harrison Township.

During the Nov. 8 general election, Supervisor Ken Verkest received his sixth re-election with 60 percent of the vote over his Democratic challenger, James Senstock (38 percent).

Verkest will join again at the table his fellow Republicans Clerk Adam Wit, Treasurer Darrin York, and Trustees Bill Bitonti and Larry Tomenello. They will be joined by newly elected Trustees Brian Batkins and Bill Servial, also Republicans.

Longtime Trustee David Bratto, a Democrat, did not win re-election, a fact that will be noticeable in the township, Verkest said.

“David served the township well, but things at a higher level sometimes have an impact at the local level,” he said, referring to Republican President-elect Donald Trump and straight-ticket voting. “It’s a loss to our community… to lose him as a board member. It will be felt. I wish him well.”

Bratto did not respond to requests for comment on the local election.

Wit reported a 68.4 percent voter turnout, which he said is right in line with past presidential elections in the township. Voter turnout in 2008 was 68.2 percent, and voter turnout in 2012 was 66.5 percent.

Wit received 60 percent of the vote over his opponent, James Wietecha, who received 38 percent. York defeated challenger Chris Burden with 56 percent of the vote over Burden’s 42 percent. Tomenello received the most votes, followed by Batkins, Bitonti and Servial.

Verkest said the results nationally and locally are a mixed bag.

“There’s some good and bad results in my perspective,” he said. “I think really just at a national level there have been some really amazing results, as well as at the county level. There was a Republican bounce in Macomb County and certainly in Harrison Township.

“I think Trump brought out a lot of people who haven’t voted consistently in the past, if at all.”

Senstock, a former township supervisor, echoed Verkest’s statements about the influence of the presidential vote.

“I feel the Republicans spoke strongly for Donald Trump, and the Republican candidates for local office benefited from that support,” Senstock stated in an email. “I am concerned that the issues I outlined during my campaign will remain local issues, as the makeup of the board has not changed. I will continue to support residents and our community.”

Democratic trustee candidate William Bardill said it was “a bad night for Democrats.”

“I felt Hillary should have picked Bernie Sanders for her VP,” he said. “I think she would have gotten more supporters, those who ended up voting for Trump.”

He said the loss won’t deter him from being involved in local politics or environmental issues, or even another run in the future.

“Who knows? I might, but for now I’ll still be involved in the board meetings and all the Planning Commission meetings and in Save Lake St. Clair because I love Harrison Township,” he said.

“I tip my hat to all the winners and to everyone who voted.”

Full general election results can be found at clerk.macombgov.org/clerk-elections.

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