Voters approve millage proposals for Hanson Hills, Sheriffs Department
Mon, 11/09/2020 - 12:51pm caleb
In local races, voters also decide contested races for Road Commission Board, Frederic Township, and Lovells Township during November 3 general election
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Crawford County voters approved two local millage proposals – an operating millage renewal for Hanson Hills Recreation Area and money for the Sheriff’s Department to support a School Resource Officer and a local STING officer – and decided a few contested races during the November 3 general election on Tuesday.
Three candidates were running for two Crawford County Road Commission Board seats. Voters elected Ronald Larson (Republican) with 4,357 votes and Cris Jones (Republican) with 4,144 votes. Darryl Babbitt (No Party Affiliation) received 2,436 votes.
Other county-wide races were uncontested.
The voting numbers for Crawford County government positions: Prosecuting Attorney, Sierra R. Koch, 5,808 votes; Sheriff, Shawn M. Kraycs, 6,017 votes; Clerk/Register of Deeds, Sandra Moore, 5,992 votes; Treasurer, Kate Wagner, 5,919 votes.
All Crawford County Board of Commissioners candidates ran unopposed on November 3. The voting numbers: 1st District (City of Grayling), Laurie Jamison (Republican), 581 votes; 2nd District (Beaver Creek Township, Grayling Charter Township Precinct 302), Sharon Priebe (Republican), 824; 3rd District (Frederic Township and Maple Forest Township), Shelly L. Pinkelman (Republican), 908 votes; 4th District (Grayling Charter Township Precinct 304), Jamie McClain (Republican), 928 votes; 5th District (Grayling Charter Township Precinct 305), Carey Jansen (No Party Affiliation), 649 votes; 6th District (Lovells Township and Grayling Charter Township Precinct 306), Sherry Powers (Republican), 877 votes; 7th District (South Branch Township), Phil Lewis (Republican), 818 votes.
Two candidates – Bryan Bearss and Josh Peters – ran unopposed for two seats on the Crawford AuSable Board of Education. Peters received 3,253 votes and Bearss received 3,194 votes.
The November 3 general election featured two county-wide millage proposals: a request from Grayling Recreation Authority for an eight-year operating millage renewal for Hanson Hills Recreation Area and a request from the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department for a new five-year millage to pay for a School Resource Officer and a local STING officer.
The Grayling Recreation Authority millage proposal asked voters to approve “0.4845 ($.4845 per $1,000 of taxable value” of “general ad valorem taxes” for “2021 through 2028 inclusive, for the purpose of maintaining recreational facilities and activities in Crawford County,” according to the ballot language.
Voters approved the GRA millage request by a vote of 3,783 yes to 3,202 no.
The millage will generate approximately $282,000 in its first year, according to the proposal.
“We are very excited to have the millage renewal pass,” said Justin Andre, Director of Operations for Grayling Recreation Authority. “The community has been very supportive of GRA and Hanson Hills and for that we are grateful. We look forward to continuing our maintenance and operation of Hanson Hills and to continue to provide community programs and special events. Right now we are in the planning process to open for winter operations with modifications to minimize exposure to COVID-19.”
The Crawford County Sheriff’s Department millage request to pay “the costs of maintaining and equipping a deputy assigned as the School Resource Officer in the Crawford AuSable School System and maintaining and equipping a deputy assigned to the Strike Team Investigative Narcotics Group” for “a period of five years, 2020 through 2024 inclusive” asked voters to approve “0.4500 ($0.4500 per $1,000 of taxable value” on “the total amount of general ad valorem taxes imposed on real and tangible personal property” in the county.
Voters approved the Sheriff’s Department millage with a vote of 4,151 yes to 2,915 no.
Sheriff Kraycs said his department is grateful for the support of Crawford County voters.
“The passing of this millage will ensure that Crawford County has a School Resource Officer and an officer on our STING team. These two positions are so important to the community. We are pleased that our community is supportive of our effort,” Sheriff Kraycs said.
The millage will generate approximately $262,000 in its first year, according to the ballot language.
The City of Grayling had three candidates running unopposed for three city council seats: Heather Forbes (444 votes), Roger Moshier (393 votes), and Wm. Dennis Sloan (317 votes).
Lisa Johnson, City of Grayling Clerk/Treasurer, said the city handled a large number of absentee ballots, which ended up causing a slight delay at the end of the day.
“The City of Grayling had 326 absentee ballots. It is usually under 100,” Johnson said. “It was pretty steady with voters during the day, so we were unable to have all absentee ballots in the tabulator before 8 p.m., so this added an additional 30 minutes to our day, so a little more difficult.”
Candidates for Beaver Creek Township government positions did not face opposition during the November 3 election. The numbers: Dan Bonamie (Republican), Supervisor, 650 votes; Sandy R. Beaudet (Republican), Clerk, 644 votes; Max Meisner (Republican), Treasurer, 655 votes; Lee Riley (Republican), Trustee, 615 votes; Douglas Yanniello (Republican), Trustee, 595 votes.
Sharon Hartman, current Beaver Creek Township Clerk, said the township’s voting was close to a 50/50 split with in-person vs. absentee ballot, and the township had high voter turnout.
“Absentee ballots were more than doubled from previous elections and we spent hours in the office before the election making sure that everything was in order for their opening election morning. To handle all the extra, I had several more election workers than usual, workers that just took care of the absentee ballots. Beaver Creek had the most voters of any previous election, so we were very busy all day,” Hartman said. “Votes cast were made up of 52% in person voting and 48% absentee voting.”
Hartman said the township had a few issues leading up to the election – including people requesting absentee ballots to be mailed only a few days prior to November 3 – and a few problems to work through on Election Day.
“Prior to the election, many phone calls: did you receive my ballot, how do I know my absentee ballot will be put through the machine and counted, will it hurt if the ink bleeds through the ballot, and on Friday before the election, please mail me a ballot,” Hartman said. “Challenges on election day included many people returning or ‘surrendering’ their absentee ballot and wanting to vote in person, which is allowed. To do this, they must fill out an affidavit, write ‘surrender’ on the returned absentee ballot, sign and date it. One gentleman told me it was not right to write ‘surrender’ on a ballet, even though he was surrendering it back to me and getting a regular ballet. We had quite a few people who registered to vote and then voted the same day. I had several people asking to be registered so they could vote, and when checking the qualified voter file, found them already registered, so I can only assume they had never before voted. But with a smile, most problems were solved.”
“My election workers are the best,” Hartman said. “They work so very hard, 16 hours, and ended the day happy and tired. I appreciate them all so very much. As I am retiring and this was my last election, I hope the new clerk appreciates them also.”
Frederic Township had three contested races – clerk, treasurer, and trustee.
Frederic Township elected Amanda Siwecki (Republican) to serve as clerk with 367 votes. Kimberly Johnston (No Party Affiliation) received 219 votes and Christine Cox (No Party Affiliation) received 121 votes.
Karen M. Dawson (Republican) won the Frederic Township Treasurer race with 421 votes. Jodie Tompkins (No Party Affiliation) received 296 votes.
Three candidates – Donald Weaver (Democratic), Debra Friedman (Republican), and Randy Richardson (Republican) – were vying for two Frederic Township Trustee seats. Richardson and Friedman won the two seats with 510 votes and 428 votes, respectively. Weaver received 313 votes.
Brandon Gabriel (Republican), running unopposed for the Frederic Township Supervisor position, received 584 votes.
“Frederic Township had around half of the voters choose absentee voting. Our poll workers worked diligently to make sure all the absentee ballots were counted before the 8 p.m. deadline,” said Dorothy Moore, Frederic Township Interim Clerk.
All of the candidates for Grayling Charter Township positions were running unopposed on the November 3 ballot: Lacey D. Stephan III (Republican), Supervisor, 2,499 votes; Diane Giska (Republican), Clerk, 2,538 votes; Cindy Olson (Republican), Treasurer, 2,507 votes; JoAnn Michal (Republican), Trustee, 2,081 votes; Claudia Selthoffer (Republican), Trustee, 2,038 votes; Joseph Smock (Republican), Trustee, 2,199 votes; Shannon Sorenson (Republican), Trustee, 2,248 votes; Albert Ingalls (Republican), Constable, 2,368 votes.
“We had a high turnout. We had a lot of absentee ballots, 1,909, as well as in-person voters, 1,409. Our total registered voter count is 4,921. With the amount of in-person voters it did make the counting of absentee ballots more difficult as it is done in the precincts while still processing in-person voters,” said Giska, the current Deputy Clerk for Grayling Charter Township.
Giska said she appreciated the “patience” of voters on Election Day.
“We had long lines all day long with no break and still had a line at 8 p.m. when the polls closed. All voters in line were allowed to vote; the last person finished voting at 8:45 p.m. We have a great group of inspectors and they just continued on throughout the day,” Giska said.
Lovells Township had one contested race with two candidates vying for the supervisor position. In the Lovells Township Supervisor race, Gary Neumann (Republican) had the most votes with 304 and Randy Long (Democratic) had 153 votes.
Unopposed Lovells Township candidates included: Cynthia L. Infante-Inman (Republican), Clerk, 371 votes; Ann Carole Duby (Republican), Treasurer, 369 votes; Cheryl L. Hopp (Republican), Trustee, 333 votes; Heather G. Lovell (Republican), Trustee, 330 votes.
None of the Maple Forest Township government candidates faced opposition on the November 3 ballot: Supervisor, Thomas L. Coors (Republican), 325 votes; Clerk, Sandra L. Baynham (Republican), 338 votes; Treasurer, Denise M. Babbitt (Republican), 329 votes; Trustee, Kristine K. Madill (Democratic), 143 votes; Trustee, Gayle L. Desprez (Republican), 296 votes.
In South Branch Township, all government candidates were running unopposed on the November 3 ballot: Supervisor, Laurie Luck (Republican), 846 votes; Clerk, Brenda Nelson (Democratic), 594 votes; Treasurer, Cathy Lewis (Republican), 837; Trustee, Michael J. Janisse (Republican), 801 votes; Trustee, Anna Sylvester (Republican), 779 votes.
Voter turnout in Crawford County’s 10 precincts ranged from 55 percent to 88 percent, according to the county’s election results website.
S. Moore, the Crawford County Clerk/Register of Deeds, said voter turnout in the county “jumped from around 27 percent in previous elections.”
Turnout numbers, according to data provided by Crawford County’s official election website, by precinct:
101, Beaver Creek Township, 62% (1,049 ballots cast, 1,681 registered voters)
201, Frederic Township, 55% (781 ballots cast, 1,427 registered voters)
302, Grayling Charter Township, 65% (229 ballots cast, 352 registered voters)
304, Grayling Charter Township, 71% (1,210 ballots cast, 1,699 registered voters)
305, Grayling Charter Township, 68% (1,158 ballots cast, 1,696 registered voters)
306, Grayling Charter Township, 66% (720 ballots cast, 1,095 registered voters)
401, Lovells Township, 88% (460 ballots cast, 525 registered voters)
501, Maple Forest Township, 75% (408 ballots cast, 545 registered voters)
601, South Branch Township, 71% (1,119 ballots cast, 1,567 registered voters)
701, City of Grayling, 55% (774 ballots cast, 1,403 registered voters)
Overall, Crawford County voter turnout was 66 percent, according to the county’s election website.
“Turnout and absentee ballots were both up within the City (of Grayling). It was nice to see the residents out and voting,” Johnson said. “One of the best turnouts since I have been in the clerk/treasurer position.”
“We had a record high voters and absentees. We are very proud of our residents for making the effort to vote in such trying times and we were blessed with workers that gave their all,” D. Moore said.
Complete local results of the November 3 election were not available until the early morning hours of Wednesday, November 4. In some local precincts, people had to wait in line to vote, with some of the delays caused by protocols in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Regarding COVID, we sat up our voting area using the six-foot rule, therefore not able to set up as many voting stations as usual because of space, and experienced a line of residents waiting to vote most of the day,” Hartman said.
“Overall everything went well even with COVID. Residents were respectful and kept six feet apart,” Johnson said.
“Overall it went great. People were in compliance as far as mask and the six foot social distancing even while waiting in line outside. I do believe having a mild sunny day brought out even more voters and helped with the general good mood of everyone. Our average wait time was approximately 45 minutes and nobody seemed to mind,” Giska said.
S. Moore said there were a few issues but overall the election went well in Crawford County.
“Township clerks and election inspectors did an amazing job running a fair and accurate election. Our results are certified and are complete now,” S. Moore said. “The no-reason absentee more than tripled our numbers. As far as I know, the wait times weren’t much more than an hour and voters were patient and kind. Residents knew the lines would be long, came prepared, and enjoyed the beautiful day waiting to vote.”
“We had workers that totally spent their day processing ballots. It did cause delays; however, our dedicated election inspectors didn’t mind the excessive volume. Overall the election went very well, the ‘early voting’ message from the Michigan (Secretary Of State) had voters confused as we only have no-reason absentee ballot voting. Voters also thought they could bring their ballot to the courthouse which generated additional confusion. Ballots are only received and processed at the local township/city offices,” S. Moore said.
“I have received questions regarding the use of felt tip Sharpie marker pens, which was the Bureau of Elections preferred choice of marking. If a voter noticed bleeding through to the other side and felt that their vote would be jeopardized it is their legal right to request a replacement ballot. Our ballots are designed so the markings cannot bleed through to mark the other side,” S. Moore said.
“A great deal of time goes into the election process and residents should have faith in that process,” S. Moore said. “I am confident in our election process and can only hope residents recognize that election integrity. I encourage people to become more involved in the election process as we can always use more qualified inspectors.”