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Posted on Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 6 a.m.

Washtenaw County business leaders fuel Rick Snyder's run for Michigan governor

By Nathan Bomey

The Ann Arbor region’s business community is investing in Republican Rick Snyder’s Michigan gubernatorial campaign.

Other Republicans are not getting traction in Washtenaw County fundraising circles, based on state documents.

Of the 72 individuals who contributed the $3,400 maximum to Snyder’s campaign during 2009, some 60 percent listed Washtenaw County municipalities as their addresses.

Only four local donors gave the maximum to Snyder’s three top competitors for the nomination: Attorney General Mike Cox, U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra and Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard. (They were: McKinley Inc. CEO Albert BerrizPaula Berriz and U-M nurse Vivienne Young for Cox; and Ypsilanti's John Cueter for Bouchard.)

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Michigan gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder, an Ann Arbor venture capitalist and former president of Gateway Inc.

Snyder, a founder of Ann Arbor SPARK and former president of computer maker Gateway, has deep ties to the technology businesses in the Ann Arbor region. As CEO of two Ann Arbor-based venture capital firms over the last 13 years, he was a co-founder of Ann Arbor-based software firm HealthMedia and a chairman of Ann Arbor-based medical devices firm HandyLab.

“Rick has built strong relationships with leaders in the business community in this region through his leadership in economic development and his dedication to creating jobs,” Snyder spokesman Jake Suski said in an e-mailed response to an request. “We’re proud to have a great amount of support not only from Washtenaw County, but throughout all of Michigan.”

Those connections are paying off in his gubernatorial fundraising efforts. Snyder’s campaign on Sunday ran its first ad -- the first of the entire gubernatorial contest - during the Super Bowl in Michigan TV markets.

“Since the Super Bowl ad aired, we’ve seen a substantial increase in online contributions and support for our campaign,” Suski said.

Still, Snyder’s own pocketbook is most important to his campaign. Of the $3.2 million he raised in 2009, nearly $2.7 million came from Snyder himself. In comparison, Cox raised $1.8 million.

Here’s a list, compiled by, of Washtenaw County donors who gave at least $1,000 to Snyder’s campaign in 2009. Following that is a list of other notable donors outside of Washtenaw County who gave at least $1,000. Search a database of all gubernatorial donors here.

Washtenaw County donors for Rick Snyder in 2009 (alphabetical order by last name; business titles are based on donor records or research)

$3,400 (maximum during primary)

  • Essel W. Bailey Jr., managing director of Alpha Capital
  • Robert Buckler, retired ex-president of Detroit Edison
  • Cheryl Brust, homemaker
  • Eric W. Brust, orthodontist
  • Brad Canale, executive director of the University of Michigan College of Engineering
  • Michael Chrissos, physician
  • Martha Darling, retired
  • Wendell Dunbar, CPA for Dunbar & Martel LLC
  • Ron Feldeisen, vice president of Key Safety System
  • Pam Feldeisen, homemaker
  • Bill Ford Jr., executive chairman of Ford Motor Co.
  • Lisa Ford, homemaker
  • Joseph J. Fitzsimmons, retired
  • Claes Fornell, U-M professor and founder of American Customer Satisfaction Index
  • Sheila Hamp, homemaker
  • Wan-Thai Hsu, chief information officer of Discera
  • Lisa Jaqua, strategic account executive for Ingenix
  • Stephen Jaqua, CEO of Pinstripe Publishing
  • Steven Hamp, owner of Hamp Advisors
  • Todd Kelley, CPA for Pietrasiuk Kelley & Kelley PC
  • Thomas Kinnear, executive director of U-M’s Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies
  • Michael Marsh, owner of Flatout Bread
  • Stacey Marsh, president of Flatout Bread
  • Bill Martin, athletics director for the University of Michigan
  • Roger Newton, CEO of Esperion Therapeutics and co-discoverer of Lipitor
  • Larry Nisson, executive coach for Larry D. Nisson & Associates
  • Lucie Nisson, retired
  • Michael Nisson, president of MDN Holdings
  • Anita Paolella, self-employed
  • Neil Paolella, president of Arbor Asset Management LLC
  • Roland Pohlman, owner of West End Grill
  • Joshua Pokempner, vice president of Elmers Products Inc.
  • Jeri Rosenberg, self-employed consultant and health coach
  • Richard Sheridan, CEO of Menlo Innovations
  • Vic Strecher, U-M CVO and co-founder of HealthMedia
  • John R. Ternes, chief financial officer for HealthMedia
  • Marc Weiser, co-founder of RPM Ventures
  • Mary Weiser, homemaker
  • Dawn Williams, homemaker
  • Jeff Williams, CEO of Accuri Cytometers and former CEO of HandyLab
  • Pamela Wood, Ufer and Co. sales executive
  • Thomas Zurbuchen, associate dean for entrepreneurial programs for the U-M
    College of Engineering


  • Brian Vlazny, client service assistant for Arbor Asset Management LLC


  • Beth Fitzsimmons, retired
  • Conrad Kalitta, CEO of Kalitta Air LLC
  • Deepa Ramsinghani, officer of Issue Media Group


  • Herbert Black, self-employed insurance agent
  • Douglas A. Busch, owner of Busch’s
  • David Canter, U-M William Davidson Institute researcher and former site leader of Pfizer in Ann Arbor
  • Michael Chrissos, physician
  • Paul Dimond, senior counsel for Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone PLC
  • Stephen Dobson, retired
  • Rene Greff, owner of Arbor Brewing


  • Mahendra Ramsinghani, self-employed


  • David Gregorka, vice president of HealthMedia
  • Joan Morrell, office manager at Emerson School


  • Charles Boyd, otolaryngologist
  • Ted Dacko, president of HealthMedia
  • George M. DeGrood III, attorney
  • Rossana M. DeGrood, physician for Integrated Health Associates
  • Francine Jones, realtor for Charles Reinhart Co.
  • David Lusk, CEO of EQ Co.
  • Terry Morrison, investor
  • Ron Reed, managing partner of Seneca Partners
  • Genie Sherard, homemaker


  • James Adox, managing director of Venture Investors
  • John Balbach, director of major gifts for U-M in mid-Michigan
  • Mark Boonstra, attorney at Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone PLC
  • James Byrne, retired
  • Mary Campbell, general partner of EDF Ventures
  • Sheila Crowley, registered nurse at U-M
  • Jerry Frost, retired
  • Richard Haller, president of Walbridge Aldinger Co.
  • Phil Jenkins, retired
  • John Langs, real estate agent for Magellan Properties
  • Bhushan Kulkarni, CEO of GDI Infotech
  • Swatee Kulkarni, homemaker
  • Kevan Lawlor, CEO of NSF International
  • Diane Mukkala, director at Daycroft Montessori School
  • Ed Pagani, general manager of Beckman Coulter
  • Diana Paolella, retired
  • Frank Paolella, retired
  • Joseph A. Sesi, president of Sesi Automotive
  • Yvonne T. Sesi, physician and attorney
  • Scott Underwood, owner of Farmer & Underwood Transportation
  • Thomas W. Ufer, executive for Ufer & Co.

Prominent non-Washtenaw County donors for Rick Snyder who gave at least $1,000 in 2009 (alphabetical order by last name; business titles are based on donor records or research)


  • Keith Alessi, CEO of Westmoreland Coal Co. (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
  • John E. Coleman, CEO of Unisys (Annapolis, Md.)
  • Richard Dauch, CEO of American Axle & Manufacturing (Bloomfield Hills)
  • David T. Fischer Sr., owner of Suburban Collection (Bloomfield Hills)
  • David Fischer Jr., owner of Suburban Collection (Bloomfield Hills)
  • James Nicholson, president of PVS Chemicals Inc. (Grosse Pointe)
  • John R. Rakolta Jr., CEO of Walbridge Aldinger Co. (Bloomfield Hills)
  • Margaret Ann Riecker, president of Herbert H. & Grace A. Dow Foundation (Midland)
  • Chris Rizik, partner with Ardesta and CEO of Renaissance Venture Capital Fund (Northville)
  • Colette Rizik, homemaker (Northville)


  • Richard Baird, partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (Palatine, Ill.)


  • Eugene A. Gargaro, chairman of Masco Corp. (Grosse Pointe Shores)


  • James McCann, CEO of (Manhasset, New York)
  • Mark Rohde, president of Rohde Construction (Grand Rapids)
  • Robert P. Ufer, co-chairman of Service Brands International (Bloomfield Hills)
  • Sam Zell, chairman of Equity Group Investments (Chicago, Ill.)

Contact’s Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter


Lynn Liston

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 9:11 p.m.

Now if only will go another step and tell us which of these companies have received incentives, credits or rebates from State and Local governments, and how much they paid in State, local and US taxes.


Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 8:14 p.m.

While an R is not my choice, he's at least likely to counter the bias agianst SE Michigan on display by Western and UP republicans


Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 3 p.m.

After seeing his "nerd for governor" commercial I have to say I like what I saw when I read up on him. I agree though, just because you have good ideas doesn't mean you can get them passed.

Top Cat

Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 9:31 a.m.

I share noreaster's concerns. Rick has no experience dealing with the likes of public employee unions or state legislatures. California took a similar chance with Arnold and the results have been catastrophic. None the less, I plan to do the Meet and Greet that Rick is holding at The Corner Brewery on Monday and listen to him.


Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 9:24 a.m.

Rick has some good ideas, but how will he get them past all the territorial bureaucrats and elected partisan bozos in Lansing? A good CEO is somewhat dictatorial, I doubt that approach will work in the governor's office with one's own party, and certainly not for the "opposition".


Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 8:42 a.m.

Go Rick! We need a real business person to run our state not a big government person.