IRON COUNTY— Words like “exponential” and “skyrocketing” have been used to describe the added interest in absentee voting in Michigan this election cycle, mainly because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
With that in mind, the Reporter is publishing early previews of the candidates and issues on the ballot in Iron County for the Nov. 3 general election.
As 2020 is a presidential year, the race between Donald Trump (R) and Joe Biden (D) looms over everything nationally. Still, there are plenty of state-wide and local elections which have great importance to voters across the country.
In Iron County, prosecuting attorney Melissa Powell (D) is running unopposed, as are sheriff Mark Valesano (D), clerk and register of deeds Julie Kezerle (R), treasurer Melanie Camps (D) and mine inspector Thomas Karvala (D). All are four-year terms.
Incumbent Ernest Schmidt (D) is running unopposed for the six-year county road commissioner seat in play this cycle.
In county commission seat races, Patti Peretto (D) 1st District, Mike Stafford (no party affiliation) 2nd District, Jeff Ofsdahl (NPA), 4th District and Jacob Conery (NPA), 5th District are all running unopposed.
Battling for the 3rd District seat are incumbent Ray Coates (NPA), Keith Hamel (NPA) and Mark Stauber (NPA).
The county commissioners serve two-year terms.
There are five county-wide proposals on the ballot. Three are for millage renewals and two are new millage requests
• Road Millage Proposal – 0.5 mill for the next four years (2021-2024) for the purpose of maintenance, repair and reconstruction of all public streets, avenues and roads in Iron County.
• Advance Life Support Ambulance Maintenance Proposal - .15 mill for a period of four years (2021-2024) to be exclusively used to maintain advanced life support ambulance service in Iron County.
• Senior Centers Millage - .27 mill for a period of four years (2021-2024) to be used exclusively for operations of all senior centers in Iron County.
• County Meals on Wheels Nutrition Program Millage - .10 mill for a period of four years (2020-2023) to be exclusively used to provide for the preparation and delivery of nutritious meals for individuals age 60 or older in Iron County.
• Healthcare Benefits Assistance Millage – .10 mill for a period of four years (2020-2023) to be used exclusively to provide professional assistance for obtaining Medicare, Medicaid, prescription drugs, affordable health insurance and other related healthcare benefits throughout the county.
School board seats are up for vote in both county districts this year. At Forest Park, incumbents Mike Bjork and William Leonoff are running for their two spots unopposed. The terms are for six years.
At West Iron, incumbents Ian Gill, Ryan Meske, Gary Pisoni and Dennis Tousignant are running for the four spots unopposed. The terms are for four years.
Four candidates are running for three spots on the Caspian City Commission (two-year term). The candidates are incumbents Matthew Jacks (current mayor), Robert Remondini and Gary Sabol as well as Robert Ketchum.
Three candidates for the Crystal Falls City Council are vying for two seats – incumbents Chris Nocerini and Blair Anderson as well as Nathaniel Kudwa.
In Gaastra, Mari Kay McNamara and Ashley Schober are running unopposed for the two-year seats.
Mike McCarthy is running unopposed for Crystal Falls mayor (4-year term) and Thomas Place is running unopposed for mayor of Gaastra (1-year term). Both are incumbents.
In Alpha, Sharon Eaton is running unopposed for village clerk (2-year term), while no one is on the ballot for village president (4-year term).
Finally, in state-wide races, incumbent U.S. senator Gary Peters (D) seeks reelection against John James (R); incumbent 1st District U.S. representative Jack Bergman (R) is up against Dana Ferguson (D); and in the race for the 110th District State Legislator, incumbent Gregory Markkanen (R) faces Janet Metsa (D).
A sample ballot, which includes candidates for state university boards and judiciary races, can be viewed at mvic.sos.state.mi.us/PublicBallot/Index.
Those who need to register to vote can do so by mail or online by Oct. 19 or at the local clerk’s office up to and on Election Day. Those who wish to request an absentee ballot can do so by Oct. 19. Apply online or download an application at Michigan.gov/Vote.
Ballots sent to voter’s homes must be received by their clerk by 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Clerk’s offices and polling places will be supplied with protective and hygiene supplies and will follow protocols to ensure safe in-person voting. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.