Macomb: Miller, Sinclair to face off in clerk race

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News
Democrat Fred Miller and Republican Lisa Sinclair are vying for the Macomb County Clerk job.

Fred Miller will be the Democratic candidate for Macomb County Clerk this fall after edging out Steve Bieda, 33.5 percent to 31 percent, in Tuesday's primary.

Lisa Sinclair, who won 17 percent of the vote in a crowded Republican field of 11 candidates, will be the GOP candidate. 

The winner this fall will complete the final two years of ousted Clerk Karen Spranger's term and take over an office beset with political infighting and legal battles during her 14-month tenure.

Latest election results from Metro Detroit and Michigan

Spranger, who battled the county commissioners in court over office operations and with the union representing office employees, was removed in March when a judge ruled she was not a county resident when she ran for office in 2016. Kathy Smith, who was appointed interim clerk, did not run for the permanent post.

Bieda, a state senator, and Miller, a former county commissioner and state lawmaker, have openly criticized each other and been the subject of news articles prompted by Bieda’s complaint that Miller has been improperly supported by bingo games run by the Philip A. Hart Democratic Club. Bieda has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over what he believes are election campaign violations. 

In its quarterly filing with the IRS, the Building a Better Michigan Group, an advocacy organization, reported it received $250,000 from the  Macomb County-based Hart Club. But Bieda says that contrary to state election reporting requirements, the Hart Club has never disclosed to anyone how it spent about $100,000 in ads criticizing him and supporting a fellow Democrat, Miller.

Miller who lost to Spranger by 635 votes in November 2016, said he has the “right skill-set to get the Macomb County Clerk's Office back on track and have a proven track record of working for reform and taking on powerful insiders.“

Sinclair promised to provide “fair and efficient service to all 870,000 people in Macomb County.”

Executive Mark Hackel won his bid to be renominated for another term, with 83 percent supporting him over Democratic challenger Arnold Simkus, with 17 percent.

Mark Hackel

In a recent interview, Hackel – who won re-election in 2014 with 69 percent of votes cast – expressed so much confidence in his re-election chances this year that he noted while he had sent out a mailer encouraging voters to support Bieda for county clerk, he hadn’t bothered to mail out a campaign flyer on his own behalf.

On the Republican side, Joseph Hunt of Warren defeated Norbert Golembiewski, winning 56 percent of the vote. But Hunt earned roughly half as many votes as Hackel did, and combined the Republican candidates earned only 65,456 votes compared to the 85,674 earned by the Democrats. 

Hunt has run unsuccessfully for several elected offices in the county and also in Warren government, and was the 2016 campaign manager for Spranger.

Golembiewski, a Sterling Heights Republican, said he was running for the county’s top elected office because he “wants to clean up the Macomb County swamp.”

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