Republican voters on Tuesday nominated Andrew Fink for the state legislature’s 58th district and Scott Hodshire to become Hillsdale County’s next sheriff, in a pair of hotly contested elections.
Megan R.M. Stiverson and Brendan Sanger finished first and second, respectively, in the nonpartisan primary election for 2B District Court Judge. They will face each other in the general election on November 3.
Voter turnout in Hillsdale County increased by more than 12% compared to the 2018 primary election, with 36.09% of registered voters showing up at the polls, according to the Hillsdale County Cumulative Results Report. More than 22,800 residents in Hillsdale and Branch counties cast votes for candidates in the Michigan state house’s 58th district in Tuesday’s primary election and more than 10,000 residents voted in the Hillsdale County sheriff’s race.
Voter turnout in Branch County increased by about 10% this year compared to the 2018 primary.
Fink wins Republican nomination for 58th District in state house race
Local attorney and Hillsdale College alumnus Andrew Fink ’06 secured the Republican Party’s nomination to represent the 58th District in the Michigan State Legislature. Fink earned 31.57% of the votes in Hillsdale County and 48.41% of the votes in Branch County for a total of 6,520 votes.
Fink, who will go up against Democratic nominee Tamara Barnes in November, said he’s grateful to his family and team of volunteers who helped share his campaign message with the residents in the 58th District.
“We had my family, including my kids, and volunteers out with us knocking on doors, putting stamps on pieces of mails, and making phone calls,” Fink said. “My family and our volunteers were awesome. They were, what we call in the Marines, a force multiplier. I am blessed with the support we had.”
While on the campaign trail, Fink said he enjoyed learning from residents in the community about what issues are most concerning for people.
“I heard a lot about concern for good and thoughtful government response to coronavirus that respects both safety and liberty,” Fink said. “ I also heard a lot of concern about respect for police officers and discouraging destruction of property.”
With his background in law, Fink said if he is elected state representative in the general election he will use his position in Lansing “to articulate exactly why it’s wrong for our governor to assume under herself the powers that she has without getting any input from our representatives and senators.”
“I’m ready and more than willing to take advantage of the amplified voice that a legislator is given to explain why that’s not normal in American government,” Fink added.
Former Chairman of Hillsdale County’s Board of Commissioners Andy Welden was the last Republican candidate to enter the race but only trailed Fink by 2.53% of the vote in Hillsdale County, where he earned 2,883 votes. Welden said he enjoyed the campaign process but wished he would have begun two years earlier to line up more support.
“I didn’t know it took so much finance to run a campaign for this position,” Welden said. “That is an overall surprise that I learned during the process.”
Although he does not plan to run for elected office in the future, Welden said he will still be actively involved in the community.
“If there’s anything I can do to help anybody, don’t hesitate to contact me,” Welden said.
Local real estate agent Daren Wiseley was also a candidate for the 58th District House Seat and ran his first campaign for elected office. Although he passed Hillsdale Mayor Adam Stockford in the polls, Wiseley trailed Fink and Welden.
Looking back, Welden said he wished he had been more aggressive with his fundraising efforts. He added that COVID-19 changed the campaign field as he and his team were not able to go around knocking on doors.
“The mail campaign was very important,” Welden said. “Andrew Fink implemented that aspect of the campaign well. It just takes more money to do the mailing than I had to invest.”
As Fink prepares for the general election, he said that he’ll continue to go door to door introducing himself to constituents and will participate in events if COVID-19 restrictions allow for it.
The Collegian reached out to Hillsdale Mayor Adam Stockford and Democratic nominee for the 58th District Tamara Barnes, but they did not reply to requests for comment.
Hodshire to represent Republicans on ticket for Hillsdale County Sheriff
In a close race, Scott Hodshire clinched the Republican Party’s nomination for Hillsdale County Sheriff. He earned 35.81% of the vote and narrowly defeated current Hillsdale County Undersheriff Carl Albright who received 33.04% and Hillsdale County Justice Project Founder Jon Paul Rutan who received 31.15%.
Hodshire ran unsuccessfully for Hillsdale County Sheriff in 2012 but said he was “floored” by the amount of support he received from people in the community during his 2020 campaign.
“I was able to base my platform on the things that the folks of Hillsdale County wanted,” Hodshire said. “I was transparent on who my undersheriff was going to be, and we ran a clean campaign.”
If elected Hillsdale County Sheriff in the general election, Hodshire said he plans on starting up community policing, offering an inmate labor program, and starting an in-house General Educational Development test program for the inmates.
“I appreciate the votes and the hardwork from my campaign members,” Hodshire said. “Now, the real work begins.”
Stiverson defeats Sanger and Burger in nonpartisan district judge race
Megan R.M. Stiverson earned 37.39% of the vote, finishing ahead of Brendan Sanger, who received 31.61% of the vote. Stiverson will face Sanger in November’s election. A third candidate, Kimm Burger, received 31.01% of the vote, trailing Stiverson and Sanger.
As a first-time candidate, Stiverson said she enjoyed talking to residents in the community and answering their questions. One recurring question she heard was about the idea of being nonpartisan.
“A lot of people are really concerned when you can’t tell them what party you’re affiliated with,” Stiverson said. “It concerns people because they feel like it has to be Republican or Democrat.”
While Stiverson said she ran a large social media campaign, she also went door-knocking throughout Hillsdale County to share her platform and ideas with residents.
“My family walked miles with me,” she said.
Stiverson said early on, she decided she would run a clean race to set an example for her children.
“My family is second only to God. My faith and my family’s faith is what got us through this,” Stiverson said.
As she approaches the general election, Stiverson said she will continue her social media campaign but hopes she will have more opportunities to participate in public forums to tell people about her platform.
“I feel like my biggest strength is speaking to people,” Stiverson said. “I relish being challenged, and I will answer people’s questions.”
Four new nominees chosen to represent Republicans for Hillsdale County Board of Commissioners
The Hillsdale County Board of Commissioners will have four new members in January 2021 if the Republican Party’s nominations win the general election.
Doug Ingles earned 590 votes and defeated incumbent and four-term commissioner Ruth Brown by 2% to secure his nomination for the District 1 seat. Ingles, who previously served the City of Hillsdale as both a council member and mayor, said he feels re-energized and ready to serve the public once again.
“I’m already beginning the next part of my process so that in January we have very strong and prepared county commissioners,” Ingles said. “I’ll be ready when it’s time.”
Ingles is also the owner of Stadium Roller Rink, which has been closed during the pandemic. He said that its closure gave him the opportunity to go out and speak with many different people in the community.
“One of the things that made such a big impact was just talking to the people,” Ingles said. “It’s very humbling, and it’s so overwhelming at this moment. I’m appreciative of the support and the confidence that so many have that I’ll do a good job.”
Local accountant Kathy Schmitt earned 959 votes and defeated incumbent Julie Games to win the nomination for the District 2 seat.
Schmitt said she believes her background in accounting helped her get the votes she needed to secure the Republican Party’s nomination.
“I assume people were interested in my finance background and believed the county would benefit from my experience,” Schmitt said.
In the months leading to up to January, Schmitt said she hopes to learn more about her duties as county commissioner and more about what concerns her constituents in District 2.
Brent A. Leininger defeated incumbent Namatra Brad by 9.52% of the votes and Jon Smith by 5.98%. Benzing ran unopposed for the District 4 seat, which is currently occupied by Bruce Caswell.
Incumbent Mark E. Wiley defeated Karla D. Malone by 45.96% of the votes to defend his seat representing District 3.