Candidates say desire for change characterizes Northfield Township election
See more information on the candidates in the AnnArbor.com/MLive.com online voter guide at http://www.mlive.com/voterguide/.
Candidates in the Nov. 6 general election say Northfield Township residents are ready for a change in leadership.
The incumbent supervisor and three incumbent trustees were voted out of office in Northfield Township's primaries. Clerk Michele Manning is running unopposed in the general election. Republican Kathy Braun faces a challenge from Democrat Robert Erickson in the treasurer's race. Current Treasurer Cynthia Wilson didn't seek re-election.
Republican Marilyn Handloser Engstrom will face Democrat Richard K. Rohrer in the supervisor's race.
Voters will choose four trustees from a field of eight: Wayne F. Dockett (R), Jacqueline R. Otto (R), Athena Trentin (D), Douglas R. Del Favero (D), Jeffery Vega (R), Janet M. Chick (R), David E. Gibbons Jr. (D) and Tracy S. Thomas (D).
Incumbent Republican trustees Mark Stanalajczo and Sam Iaquinto both lost in their primaries, while Democrat Mike Magda was not among the top four candidates in the Democratic field.
Several of those facing off in the November general election expressed similar thoughts about why voters opted for change and what they hope to see after the election.
Northfield typically leans Republican but also is known to elect Democrats. The raw numbers on how many residents voted Republican versus Democrat in the primary seemingly indicate that Republican candidates will win most seats in November.
But some candidates say those numbers cloud the real picture. Democrat Rohrer won his party’s primary uncontested with 270 votes.
Handloser Engstrom handily defeated incumbent Mozurkewich 529 to 305 votes. But Rohrer said he thinks many Democrats voted as Republicans in the primary simply to get Mozurkewich out of office.
Handloser Engstrom also said she knew of Democrats who voted as Republicans to support her.
Tracy Thomas received the highest number of votes with 276 among Democratic trustee candidates. He said he didn’t know what was behind the inflated number of votes cast for Republicans.
“I think if you look at the raw numbers then you’ll see that they mostly don’t accurately reflect the Democratic-Republican split in the township,” he said. “But I don’t know what happened.”
Rohrer said voters he spoke with were upset with Mozurkewich’s style of governing.
Republican Trustee Wayne Dockett also said that the supervisor was difficult to work with.
“Deb wanted to run everything by herself - she couldn’t work with us,” he said.
Handloser Engstrom said she feels voters are ready for a new board because they have grown weary of the current board’s inability to work together.
She said she supported Mozurkewich four years ago, but was frustrated with the “lack of team effort on the board.”
“The current supervisor and trustees aren’t working together,” she said. “We have never had a cohesive board working together, and that’s one of the biggest reasons I decided to run.
“It’s such a critical time for Northfield Township. We have to get our act together.”
Handloser Endgstrom and Rohrer both expressed a desire to win the election but also said their opponent had similar ideas about what needs to be done in Northfield.
Rohrer highlighted that both candidates have expressed an interest in reforming the assessor's office and bringing a more civil environment to the board. They both support cutting the administration’s positions to part time and hiring a township manager.
A township manager would be more accountable to the trustees and leave the supervisor with less power. It also would allow more people to run for office because the positions would become part time, Handloser Engstrom said.
Rohrer said he believes the supervisor’s race is now mainly about resumes because the candidates are so similar on the issues. He highlighted that he has lived in the township for 33 years and has a law degree from the University of Toledo.
Handloser Engstrom has lived in the township for 12 years and says she holds a solid reputation in the community because of her work as a real estate agent in the area.
“My numbers from the primary are good,” she said. “I just want the next board to start with a clean slate and have no negativity anywhere.”
On the question of whether Democrats can win seats in Northfield, Thomas downplayed partisanship at the local level in Northfield.
He said each of the candidates has the best interest of the township in mind and trustees don't make “grand policy decisions” but are responsible to the voters. He said the budget is the big issue and said his experience on the planning commission and working with others in the community is part of what qualifies him for the position.
But he said he isn’t the only one who can properly serve the township.
“Frankly, I think everybody that’s running is qualified,” he said, adding that residents take on the challenge for the sense of community.
Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter for AnnArbor.com.
Sat, Oct 20, 2012 : 2 p.m.
I'd have to disagree with Deb Anderson. The voters want a change they want a profesional township manager, oddly enough Brighton township does as well. Its what townships need to do as they grow. The fact that of the 4 board members who won't be returning the three trustees barely lost their seats even though they didn't show up on election day or knock on doors. Had they done so they would have been re-elected they lost by less than 40 votes (Magda by 1, Stanalajczo by 32? and Iaquinto by36?) and they all supported a new township manager position because its common sense. The Supervisor who fought tooth and nail against the township manager postion lost by over 200 votes despite heavy campaigning and door to door visits. She lost because she was wrong on the position of township mgr and because of her vindictive attitude and personal attacks against other board members and members of the public and media. The numbers speak for themselves. Marylin Handloseer did not personally attack or smear Mozurkewich she attacked only her performance as did others which was factual. Any candidate not fully supporting a township manager and who would rather triple the upcoming budgeted salaries for elected politicians is on the wrong side of progress and professionalism. The performance of the current Northfield Treasurer, Clerk and Supervisor show why we need a professional township manager in Northfield Township. Hanloser and Rohrer are right on in supporting the twp mgr position. As for one sided media well the more liberal A2.com and the more onservative local Courantonline.com seem to agree on this issue why is that? Funny how everyone else is wrong and only Mozurkewich supporters (whats left of them) are right.
Sat, Oct 20, 2012 : 12:39 a.m.
The voters decided to nix the current BOT because we realized that they did not represent us for the good of all. Deb's downfall occurred because of this good ol' boys club on the current BOT, and they also helped to fund Handloser's smear campaign and our local news here is half owned by one of the ousted trustees. We did not have the benefit of an objective local news source. Clearly, we lack in one also with this annarbor.com article also, I can only imagine who the sources were. Democracy shall prevail.
Sun, Oct 21, 2012 : 4:43 a.m.
And the other 220 voters are also part of the "good ol' boys club"? Maybe Deb lost in a REPUBLICAN primary because she acts like a Democrat? And why are you, as someone who ran for office as a Republican, claiming Ouimet doesn't care about the people of the 52nd?