Candidates file for August election

Ryan Lewis, Editor

Three Republicans on the Allegan County Board of Commissioners will face rare challenges to their party’s nomination come the August primary. That is only the beginning to an uncommonly crowded field of races for voters to decide in August and November.

Dean Kapenga of Manlius Township chairs the county board and represents District 1; he will face GOP challenger Anthony Brown, also of Manlius Township.

Each county board seat will have a Democratic challenger in November, likely another first. In District 1—which includes the cities of Douglas, Fennville and Saugatuck and the townships of Laketown, Manlius and Saugatuck—that challenger is Christi Allen of Manlius Township.

In District 3, which includes the City of Allegan and the townships of Allegan, Monterey and Salem, longtime incumbent Republican Max Thiele of Allegan will face William Sorensen of Monterey Township in the primary. The winner of that match-up will face Democrat Kathryn Bamberg of Allegan.

In District 7—which includes the Village of Martin, the City of Plainwell and the townships of Gun Plain, Martin and Wayland—two new faces will meet in the primary to see who will take over for longtime Commissioner Don Black for the GOP nod: Nathaniel Sherman of Wayland Township and Rick Cain of Shelbyville. Black chose to not file for reelection. The winner of that race will face Democrat Rachel Colingsworth of Plainwell.

There was nearly a similar Republican primary challenge for District 5 Commissioner Tom Jessup of Casco Township, but Allegan County Clerk Bob Genetski said Kenny Clovenger did not turn in enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. Jessup will face Democrat Don Doggenoorf of Ganges Township in November.

District 5 includes the townships of Casco, Cheshire, Clyde, Ganges, Lee and Valley.

The Democratic challengers to the remaining three Republican incumbents on the county board include:

• District 2: Jim Storey of Holland, challenged by Kenneth Whitcomb of Overisel Township (includes a portion of the City of Holland and the townships of Fillmore, Heath and Overisel)

• District 4: Mark DeYoung of Dorr Township, challenged by Mike Salisbury of Wayland (includes the City of Wayland and the townships of Dorr and Leighton)

• District 6: Gale Dugan of Otsego Township, challenged by Benjamin Snape of Otsego Township (includes the Village of Hopkins, City of Otsego and the townships of Otsego, Hopkins, Watson and Trowbridge)

County board terms last two years.


State House

This election may have another first: a Democratic primary race for Michigan House of Representatives District 80.

The winner between Mark Ludwig of Fennville and Erik Almquist of Fennville will face incumbent Republican Mary Whiteford of Casco Township, who is finishing up her first term in the House.

District 80 includes the entire county except: the City of Wayland and Dorr, Leighton and Wayland townships.

State representative terms last two years.


County Prosecutor

When Judge Kevin Cronin retired earlier this year, it set off a domino effect that will continue to play out in this election cycle.

Roberts Kengis—who won an uncontested election as a Republican county prosecutor last year to replace retiring longtime prosecutor Fred Anderson—was appointed to fill Cronin’s post to the county’s circuit court.

Allegan County Circuit Court Chief Judge Margaret Zuzich Bakker then appointed Kengis’ chief assistant prosecutor Myrene Koch as prosecutor. The remainder of the term is up for election this fall and the Valley Township Republican faces a primary challenger in Michael Villar of Allegan.

Probate Judge Michael Buck is running unopposed for his post.

Prosecutor terms last four years.



Locally, there will be a few individuals running largely uncontested for their positions.

In Fillmore Township, Republican incumbent Leah Folkert is looking to keep her position as township treasurer. Folkert was appointed in April 2017 to take over the position from Janella Hop, who resigned her position and moved out of the township.

Manlius Township supervisor Lowell Winne, appointed earlier this year to replace JoAnn Csapos, will run unopposed as a Republican for the remainder of the partial term.

Appointed Salem Township treasurer Ashley Brower is unopposed for the Republican nomination for the remainder of that term.

In Saugatuck Township, there will be more going on due to the recall, but the August ballot will be relatively simple.

Republican Chris Roerig will run unopposed for the township supervisor position, a partial term expiring in 2020. Roerig, the township’s deputy supervisor and a former board trustee, was appointed to the position in April after incumbent Jon Phillips moved from the district.

While Roerig won’t have an opponent in November, the rest of the board will, due to a recall election. Recalls now function more like a general election with opposition candidates on the ballot. In this case, the incumbents are all Republicans and the challengers are all running as Democrats. Each term expires in 2020.

Former township supervisor Bill Wester will run against clerk Brad Rudich. Jon Helmrich will seek to replace Lori Babinski as treasurer. Stacey Aldrich and Abby Bigford will run against current trustees Doug Lane and Roy McIlwaine.

In Valley Township trustee Timothy Batchelor is running unopposed as a Republican for the remainder of the term he was appointed to.

Wayland Township Trustee Matthew Miner is running unopposed as a Republican for the remainder of the term he was appointed to.


State Senate

With Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker term-limited out of her seat, Genetski of Saugatuck is running for the GOP nod for Michigan Senate District 26, joined by fellow former state representative Aric Nesbitt of Lawton. Don Wickstra of Hamilton rounds out the Republican side of the ballot.

Come November, the winner of that primary will face Democrat Garnet Lewis of Saugatuck and Libertarian Erwin Haas of Kentwood.

The position is a four-year term.

Contact Ryan Lewis at or (269) 673-5534.


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