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Posted on Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 8:58 a.m.

New Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners loses four incumbents, adds two new faces

By Amy Biolchini

Editor's note: This story was updated at 10:30 a.m. with comments from Conan Smith and Yousef Rabhi.

As a result of redistricting and Tuesday's general election, the composition of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners will change dramatically when the new term starts in January.

Gone will be Wesley Prater, D-York Township, a commissioner with decades of service on the board and an extensive resume in the public sector.

Kent Martinez-Kratz.jpg

Kent Martinez-Kratz

Prater lost his seat in the redistricting process and was forced to run against Alicia Ping, R-Saline for the 3rd District seat. Ping garnered 55.69 percent of the vote.

Also ousted from the 1st District seat was Rob Turner, R-Chelsea, by his Democratic opponent Kent Martinez-Kratz, a Chelsea City Council member.

Turner won 48.30 percent of the vote, but it was not enough. It was his first term on the board.

As the Board is shrinking from 11 to nine seats as a result of redistricting, longtime Ann Arbor Commissioners Leah Gunn and Barbara Levin Bergman did not make bids for re-election.


Andy LaBarre

The newly drawn 7th District in Ann Arbor will be getting a fresh face on the board: Andy LaBarre, a Democrat who made his first bid for the county commission and won Tuesday with 77.37 percent of the vote over Republican candidate David Parker.

Incumbents will return to the remainder of seats on the board:

  • 2nd District: Incumbent Dan Smith, R-Northfield Township, was unopposed and gained 96.67 percent of the vote.
  • 4th District: Incumbent Felicia Brabec, D-Pittsfield Township, won 66.61 percent of the vote over her Republican opponent Richard Conn.
  • 5th District: Incumbent Rolland Sizemore Jr., D-Ypsilanti Township, secured 71.49 percent of the vote over Republican opponent Richard Deitering.
  • 6th District: Incumbent Ronnie Peterson, D-Ypsilanti, will be returning to the board with 83.44 percent of the vote. He defeated his Republican opponent David Raaflaaub.
  • 8th District: Incumbent Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, won 77.75 percent of the vote over Republican opponent Joe Baublis,
  • 9th District: Incumbent and board chairman Conan Smith, D-Ann Arbor, will be returning to the board with 79.88 percent of the vote and a victory over Republican challenger John Floyd.

Commissioners serve two-year terms and their base pay is $15,500 with additional per diems and mileage reimbursements. As the chairman of the board, Conan Smith is paid $18,500 per year.

The changing of the guard for the board means for the first time, a majority of the commissioners will be under the age of 50 years old. Additionally, the majority of the commissioners on the new board will also be minorities, Conan Smith said.

The younger generation of commissioners on the board will likely be less focused on contributing to benefits for workers and place more of an emphasis on mobility, Conan Smith said. He is anticipating there will be less of a liberal-conservative divide on the board.

The loss of institutional memory with Prater, Bergman and Gunn leaving the board will be a challenge the commissioners will have to address, Conan Smith said. Bergman and Gunn had a tight relationship with the Ann Arbor City Council and mayor, Conan Smith said.

Conan Smith will likely not retain the position of chairman of the board in the new 2013 term. There's a tradition among commissioners to rotate the duty when voting in the next chairman -- and Conan Smith said he's ready to take more of a partisan stance as a commissioner rather than play the peacemaker.

The new chairman of the board will be a Democrat and by process of elimination, Conan Smith said Rabhi will likely be the next commissioner to hold that position.

Rabhi said he feels that he's done a good job of bringing the voices of the board of commissioners together during working sessions and building a cohesive group to get things done.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.


Rick Stevens

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 4:59 p.m.

Some housecleaning was badly needed on the board. Too bad Christine Judge is gone - finally there is a board that might have listened to her! Hope the new folks take a long hard look at everything and don't get stampeded into the status quo by Conan who has contributed to the stagnation.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

maybe they will add cats to the picture for licenses. maybe they will just 4 get it.