City Coun­cilman Adam Stockford was elected mayor on Nov. 7, car­rying 56 percent of the vote and defeating incumbent Scott Ses­sions.

Coun­cilman Adam Stockford wins election.
(Photo: Hillsdale City Council)

Hillsdale res­i­dents also voted on four open city council seats. City Coun­cilmen Will Mor­risey and Bill Zeiser ran unop­posed, holding their seats in Wards 2 and 3. Ray Briner, a senior credit analyst at County National Bank, took Ward 4’s seat and write-in can­didate Greg Stuchell surged ahead in Ward 1, taking the seat Stockford vacated in order to run for mayor.

“I am excited, humble, and grateful for the public support,” Stockford said.

City Clerk Stephen French said voter turnout was abnor­mally high, more than double what it has been in years past. Hillsdale nor­mally sees 7 to 8 percent voter turnout in local elec­tions, but this year more than 17 percent of the city voted.

French said voter turnout could the can­di­dates’ focus on the local economy could have con­tributed to it.

“The city has had con­tested elec­tions before, so I’m not sure what was dif­ferent about this one,” French said. “Both can­di­dates did good cam­paigning.”

Stockford’s cam­paign focused on growing the local economy. He said this issue res­onated with voters.

“All they have to do is look around them to see how it’s going. This election was a reflection of that,” Stockford said.

Stockford said he plans on getting right to work and that his cam­paign promises were not just promises. He said he wants to begin by shifting the city’s eco­nomic focus to an indus­trial one.

“Every­thing I said during the cam­paign I meant,” he said.

Hillsdale res­ident Natasha Crall said Stockford will bring a strong, much-needed presence to the city.

“Mayor Stockford is a man with a vision for the future of this city, and his expe­rience will serve the city well,” she said. “I am excited to see what his lead­ership brings to the table.”

Zeiser said he is looking forward to working with Stockford because he will be a proactive, pos­itive, public face for the City of Hillsdale. Having worked with Stockford on the city council, Zeiser said the mayor-elect brings new ideas to help grow Hillsdale’s economy.

“Stockford is uniquely sit­uated,” Zeiser said. “He under­stands what it takes to bring employers in and get people jobs.”

French said he wasn’t sur­prised by the election results, but Stuchell’s victory in Ward 1 did shock many res­i­dents — including Stuchell.

“It was a huge sur­prise,” Stuchell said. “I thought my advantage would be a low voter turnout, but it was so high that I didn’t think I had a chance.”

He said write-in cam­paigns are nearly impos­sible at a state and federal level, but his victory proved that cit­izens were looking for another option. Stuchell entered the race six weeks before the election, and described his cam­paign as “neighbors talking to neighbors.”

“I only spent $200 on the cam­paign total. I had cards made with a picture of my family on them, and we went door to door talking to people,” Stuchell said.

Stuchell’s decision to run for city council was last-minute. The city council’s ini­tiative to allow medical mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries downtown — unan­i­mously rejected in a Sept. 18 meeting — moti­vated him to get involved.

“It’s a moral issue,” Stuchell said. “That’s not the kind of business you want in town. I knew I had to do some­thing.”

Some res­i­dents have voiced con­cerns about Stuchell’s victory.

“I am sad­dened to see someone who has never shown any interest at all in local pol­itics until the mar­i­juana ini­tiative came up get elected,” Hillsdale res­ident Penny Swan said. “There is a huge amount of knowledge that goes into being on council and not some­thing that should be done on whim.”

Stockford said that he looks forward to working with Stuchell and the other elected city council members. He said he intends on appointing a mayor pro-tempore as well as assigning new com­mittee appoint­ments.

“It’s time to get right down to business,” Stockford said. “I want the sur­rounding com­mu­nities to know the City of Hillsdale is open for business.”

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Kaylee McGhee
Kaylee McGhee is a senior at Hillsdale College, majoring in Politics with a minor in Journalism. This is her fourth year writing for the Collegian and she serves as the paper's Opinions Editor. Kaylee worked in Washington D.C. last year and wrote for the Weekly Standard. Her work has also appeared in the Detroit News and the Orange County Register. Follow her on Twitter: @KayleeDMcGhee email:
  • disqus_odKVC5cL1k

    To those that think only those that have been involved in pol­itics should run for office. Look around at all that is wrong in Hillsdale. The best thing that could happen is someone who has no entrenched business as usual bias getting elected. There may be hope for getting out of the stone ages.

  • Living­In­Hells­dale­County

    It’s so heart­ening that a new admin­is­tration has taken over. The Dec 4th meeting, where city Human Resource’s director Kay Freese insulted members of the audience and the com­munity was just another show of how dire the sit­u­ation is in the city offices. We needed a strong Exec­utive in the mayor’s office to reign in the cor­ruption and abuse of office resources. We need a new eco­nomic devel­opment path, being Gary Wolfram FAILED this city, costing $665,000 per year, but cre­ating no new tax revenue, instead giving tax abatement away and focusing on rentals and service industry for a purpose other than the community’s good. Crim­inals like Stephen French and Jason Walters should have been NEVER been hired, but David Mackie cer­tainly is no one that should have been trusted as the “defacto” mayor, which needs to change. Lit­erally, my prayers are with Mayor Stockford, that he can remain steadfast to his plan to turn the city into some­thing great. Kicking out the cor­ruption will not be easy, putting city employees on notice that embez­zlement, criminal acts and mis­conduct won’t play in the future? That’s going to be the hard part, but a month later, it sure seems like he’s hitting the ground running!