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Candidates muster for packed forum (From the 10-18 2015 Lapeer County Press)

Candidates muster for packed forum

BY JEFF HOGAN
810-452-2640 • jhogan@mihomepaper.com

 Thirteen of 14 candidates running in the Nov. 3 primary election were on hand Tuesday for a candidates forum at the Lapeer County Education and Technology Center in Attica Township. Photo by Alex Petrie

  Thirteen of 14 candidates running in the Nov. 3 primary election were on hand Tuesday for a candidates forum at the Lapeer County Education and Technology Center in Attica TownshipPhoto by Alex Petrie

  ATTICA TWP. — Maria Clancy of Imlay City knows who she is going to vote for in the Nov. 3 special primary election after attending a Tuesday evening candidates forum sponsored by The County Press and the Tri-City Times and hosted by the Lapeer County Intermediate School District (LCISD).

Clancy, 57, a single mother of two teenage children, was among the 280-plus people at the ISD’s Education and Technology Center in Attica Township, who had the opportunity to hear from 13 of the 14 candidates running to win her vote and yours for the chance to become the next 82nd House District representative.

 

Lapeer County’s former state representative, Todd Courser, resigned Sept. 11 following an extramarital affair and a bizarre cover-up scheme with expelled former state representative Cindy Gamrat. Despite everything, Courser and Gamrat both filed and are running to reclaim the seats they only recently quit from or were kicked out of.

 A spectator at the first forum showed their disdain for Todd Courser. Photo by Phil Foley

   A spectator at the first forum showed their disdain for Todd Courser. Photo by Phil Foley

  “I have to say I was real- ly impressed with the passion and the love of community many of the candidates expressed tonight (Tuesday),” said Clancy, who came to the forum with a friend from work. “I definitely know who I’m not voting for. But after seeing him in person I know who I will support. He’s a Republican and he’s from my town, that’s all I’m going to say.”

Her friend, Connie Chandler, 54, of Goodland Township, was equally impressed though indicated she was likely going to vote for aDemocrat — also from Imlay City.

 Gary Howell on Friday picked up the endorsement of AgriPac, the political arm of Michigan’s largest farm group — the Michigan Farm Bureau. Howell’s bid to represent the 82nd is also endorsed by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Alex Petrie

  Gary Howell on Friday picked up the endorsement of AgriPac, the political arm of Michigan’s largest farm group — the Michigan Farm Bureau. Howell’s bid to represent the 82nd is also endorsed by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Alex Petrie

“Margaret Guerrero (DeLuca) is a breath of fresh air. I just love her. She’s not so partisan like the others and I can see her representing all of us — including my friend a Republican, and everyone. That’s what we need.”

On the Republican ticket, by far the deepest bench on the primary ballot, and present Tuesday evening were Russell Adams, Courser, Jake Davison, James DeWilde, Rick Guerrero Jr., Gary Howell, Ian Kempf, Allan Landosky, Jan Peabody, Sharna Cramer Smith and Chris Tuski.

Democrats present were Guerrero DeLuca and R.D. Bohm, who wore a hard helmet emblazoned with his name on it. The third challenger, Eric Johnson said he was too sick to attend.

 Republican candidate Ian Kempf, 50, of Imlay City, scored points Tuesday with some in the audience when he said he knows and is friends with many of his primary election challengers including Gary Howell, Sharna Cramer Smith and Margaret Guerrero DeLuca and no matter what happens Nov. 3 will remain friends with them. Photo by Alex Petrie

  Republican candidate Ian Kempf, 50, of Imlay City, scored points Tuesday with some in the audience when he said he knows and is friends with many of his primary election challengers including Gary Howell, Sharna Cramer Smith and Margaret Guerrero DeLuca and no matter what happens Nov. 3 will remain friends with them. Photo by Alex PetrieTuesday’s candidate forum was moderated by LCISD Superintendent Steven Zott, whose staff graciously offered their space and time to host the second of two settings by which area residents in recent weeks could see and hear from the primary election candidate field.

The Michigan Bureau of Elections and the Secretary of State’s office have told The County Press that Lapeer County’s field of 14 primary candidates is the most ever in recorded state history for a primary election at the county level.

  Earlier this month the Lapeer County Tea Party held a forum at the Lapeer Country Sportsmen’s Club in Arcadia Township. It too drew a generous crowd of around 300 people, some who admitted were just curious and wanted to see Courser for the first time since the sex scandal and cover-up story with Gamrat broke on Aug. 7.

In a related development, the local tea party organization under the direction of Tim Lintz recently mailed a detailed questionnaire to the Republican candidates, though not all responded. Based on their questions and independent research the Lapeer County Tea Party scored the top three candidates to be Tuski, Kempf and Howell.

“This is not an endorsement, but it’s how the candidates came out when they were scored against our criteria and principles,” Lintz said.

Tuesday’s forum at the ISD asked eight questions of the candidates ranging from their stance on guns in schools, to their source for funding to sustain their campaigns to their top priorities to deliver for Lapeer County should they be elected.

Better roads, more jobs, secured funding for K-12 education and improved services for veterans were common responses.

Before the three-hour forum had concluded some audience members had left, but the last question of the night is still being talked about among those who were there and the candidates alike.

“If you weren’t running, who would you vote for?” was the question.

Peabody stuttered at the question that caught her off guard, but said she would vote for herself. She said she wouldn’t vote for Courser. Tuski stood and said he wouldn’t “duck” the question, and said he would vote for Cramer Smith, whom he also supported in 2014; Adams would support Democrat Guerrero DeLuca; Bohm would support Guerrero DeLuca; Courser would support Guerrero Jr.; Cramer Smith would support Adams; Davison would vote for Howell; DeWilde “would pick a hybrid between” Adams and Guerrero DeLuca; Guerrero Jr. said, “I don’t believe anybody would support the constitution like Courser”; Guerrero DeLuca would vote for Howell “because he does the research”; Howell would support Cramer Smith; Kempf would vote for Howell while Landosky also backed Howell. He commented, “Sounds like I could have a conversation with him.”

In closing statements, candidate Cramer Smith and Arcadia Township clerk likened the Nov. 3 primary and March 8 general election as a “chance for a do over” for Lapeer County residents to elect “an honest politician.”

Courser said he wasn’t there to make friends and if re-elected would continue to hold government accountable.

Editor’s note: The County Press will publish a comprehensive 82nd House primary election section in the Sunday, Oct. 25 edition of The County Press. Candidate questionnaires have been circulated to the candidates. Their responses will be published in next week’s paper.

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