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Local Attorney Andrew Fink is running for the 58th Dis­trict seat in the Michigan State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Courtesy | Andrew Fink

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.” 

Attorney Andrew Fink announces his can­didacy for the 58th Dis­trict seat in the Michigan State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives on Nov. 7. Carmel Kookogey | Col­legian

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.” 

Scott Hod­shire is running for Hillsdale County Sheriff in the August 2020 Election. | Facebook

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 Stiverson will go up against Brendan Sanger for Hillsdale 2B Dis­trict Court Judge in November. | Facebook

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.” 

Can­didate for dis­trict judge Brendan Sanger joined six other local can­di­dates and first responders at the annual Hillsdale County Patriots Parade, July 3, 2020. Sanger came in second after Megan Stiverson in the August 4 primary. Col­legian | Brian Freimuth

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.