The Aug. 5 primary is quickly approaching, and Oakland County residents will have plenty of candidates to choose from to represent them in the Michigan House. In several districts, open seats have attracted sharp competition from interested candidates.
Here are our recommendations:
District 27 (Berkley, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Oak Park, Pleasant Ridge and Royal Oak Township): Two Republicans and five Democrats are competing for this open seat. Incumbent Ellen Lipton is term-limited. On the Republican side, there isn’t a stand-out candidate, but consultant Mark Manier of Ferndale gets our nod over Berkley dentist Michael Ryan. Manier seems more focused on the economy, while Ryan is chiefly concerned with health care.
In the Democratic primary, Joe McHugh of Berkley and Rudy Serra of Ferndale are the top candidates. Serra has an impressive background, including as a district judge and Oakland County commissioner. But Joe McHugh, who is a business owner and former Marine, gets our support for his clear ideas on improving Michigan — including job creation and education.
District 29 (Auburn Hills, Keego Harbor, Orchard Lake Village, Pontiac and Sylvan Lake): Two Republicans are running for the chance to unseat Democratic incumbent and House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel, who is unopposed in his primary. But neither Christina Barr of Pontiac nor David Lonier of Auburn Hills is likely to do so. We withhold an endorsement in this race.
District 35 (Lathrup Village, Southfield and Southfield Township): Four Democrats are vying to replace incumbent Rudy Hobbs, who is leaving the House after two terms to run for Congress. The contenders include assistant prosecuting attorney Nicole Brown of Lathrup Village, Southfield Councilman Jeremy Moss and accountant Charles Roddis of Lathrup Village, who gets our backing. Roddis is the director of business and finance in the River Rouge School District. He has developed a firm understanding of school finance and has made public education one of his key issues.
Republican Robert Brim of Lathrup Village is not contested.
District 37 (Farmington and Farmington Hills): Two Republicans and three Democrats are running for an open seat. Incumbent Democrat Vicki Barnett is term-limited. On the Republican side, our choice is Richard Lerner of Farmington Hills. He’s a City Council member and was mayor pro tem in 2012. Lerner is running against small-business owner Julie Grippo of Farmington Hills.
It’s a competitive race among the Democrats, with all candidates fairly strong contenders. But Barry Brickner of Farmington Hills stands out for his political expertise. He’s mayor of Farmington Hills and would put a top priority on fixing roads. Christine Greig of Farmington and Theresa Rich of Farmington Hills both have solid business backgrounds.
District 38 (Lyon Township, part of Northville, Novi, Novi Township, South Lyon and Walled Lake): Two Republicans and two Democrats are squaring off. Incumbent GOP Hugh Crawford is term-limited. His wife, Kathy Crawford, of Novi is running for his seat and gets our endorsement. She has experience on the Novi City Council and Oakland County Board of Commissioners, and is a better choice over retired pastor and former business owner Dan Lauffer of Walled Lake.
On the Democratic ballot, Jasper Catanzaro of Novi and Jason Dorsch failed to return our questionnaire. We refrain from endorsing either candidate.
District 39 (Commerce Township, part of West Bloomfield Township and Wixom): First-term GOP incumbent Klint Kesto of Walled Lake has competition from two candidates in the primary. He’s done fine in his first term and should get another chance. He faces a formidable challenger in Deb O’Hagan of West Bloomfield, who is calling herself the “real conservative” in the race and has a strong business and political background.
Democrats Sandy Colvin of West Bloomfield and Michael Saari of Commerce Township are facing each other. Colvin, a corporate attorney and accountant, has a decent grasp of Michigan’s challenges and gets our support over Saari, who has founded and run several companies.
District 43 (Independence Township, Lake Angelus, Clarkston and part of Waterford Township): Republican incumbent Gail Haines is term-limited, and there is intense competition for her seat. Five Republicans and three Democrats are running in the primary. On the GOP side, several contenders are promising, but our choice is Andrea Schroeder of Clarkston, who has built a significant record of public service and leadership. She is a director of investor relations for Blackford Capital.
The best Democrat is Dennis Ritter of Clarkston, who has experience in elected office, and most recently was city manager of Clarkston.
District 44 (Highland Township, Milford Township, Springfield Township, part of Waterford Township and White Lake Township): Four Republicans are hoping to replace term-limited GOP incumbent Rep. Eileen Kowall. Several of the candidates could step into the role and do a fine job, including Liz Fessler Smith of Union Lake. Smith is active in the Republican Party and has good ideas. But our choice is Jim Runestad of White Lake. He is an Oakland County commissioner and has earned the support of many in the community.
District 45 (part of Oakland Charter Township, Rochester and Rochester Hills): Three Republican candidates hope to fill the open seat left by term-limited GOP incumbent Tom McMillin. Michael Webber of Rochester Hills, who is a member of the City Council, stands out for his good ideas and will be best suited to run against Democrat Joanna VanRaaphorst of Rochester in November.
District 46 (Addison Township, Brandon Township, part of Oakland Charter Township, Orion Township and Oxford Township): Republican incumbent Brad Jacobsen is seeking his third term, and he should get it. He’s facing a challenge from John Reilly of Oakland.