Two state reps get challenges in Macomb County primaries

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

A couple of state House incumbents are facing contested primaries in Macomb County, where there are few open seats in in Tuesday's primary election. 

Republican State Rep. Steve Marino of Harrison Township and Democratic State Rep. Kevin Hertel of St. Clair Shores are facing challenges as they both seek a third and final term because they would be prevented from running for re-election under state law.

At the same time, a Democratic-leaning state House seat in the Roseville area is up for grabs because State Rep. John Chirkun, D-Roseville, is term-limited.

24th House District

In the Republican-leaning 24th House District, Marino of Harrison Township is being challenged in the GOP primary by former Macomb County Commissioner William Revoir of Clinton Township. Marino's district includes Harrison Township and parts of Clinton and Macomb townships.

State Rep. Steve Marino, R-Harrison Township, was removed from his committee assignments after state Rep. Mari Manoogian, D-Birmingham, accused him of sending threatening text messages.

Marino, 31, chairs the House Commerce and Tourism Committee and is vice chair of the Local Government and Municipal Finance Committee. He has been endorsed by the Michigan AFL-CIO.

The lawmaker says he is running for re-election to ensure that Michigan's economic climate is heading toward a full recovery.

"We must continue forging a job-friendly environment by removing unnecessary regulations and barriers, providing a skilled workforce, and collaborating with our key industries so our businesses are able to compete in the global economy," Marino said.

Marino said he wanted to improve the state's skilled workforce through vocational training opportunities, diversifying its economic portfolio through cross-sector partnerships such as agri-tourism and promoting key industries such as defense and information technology.

Revoir, 66, is challenging Marino because he said House District 24 residents need a representative who can get things done and be trusted, pointing to his three terms on the county commission. He is also a financial adviser.

"In the last several years Macomb County has seen its elected officials go to jail, resign, charged with corruption and been convicted of crimes," Revoir said, referring to an ongoing federal public corruption probe. "I believe if a person is elected to serve the people, that is exactly what they should do: Serve the people, not themselves."

Bill Revoir

Marino has not been named in the corruption investigation.

Revoir's priorities are to reduce taxes, provide high-quality education and ensure essential services are provided to those in need in the most equitable and cost efficient way possible.

In the Democratic primary, Alex Bronson, 30, of Harrison Township, owner and manager of a painting and drywall company, said he backs higher minimum wages and stronger unions so workers in Michigan can earn livable wages. He also want to fix water infrastructure to have clean drinking water and a clean environment.

Alex Bronson

"I'm running for office so I can bring a stronger voice to workers in Michigan and my district. I’ve been a worker my whole life and want to see changes made to our policies that help working families get through the current economic and health crisis," said Bronson, who is endorsed by the United Auto Workers union and Michigan AFL-CIO. 

Michelle Woodman, 36, from Harrison Township has been teaching music in Chippewa Valley Schools since 2012 and has spent summers as a division director at Interlochen Arts Camp. 

Michelle Woodman

"Everything that I stand for comes down to one thing — people," Woodman said. "The people in my district deserve a representative who shows up, who listens and who works for them. The people of Michigan deserve a representative who protects and values all people, not in spite of, but because of their race, religion, gender and sexual orientation."

18th House District

Hertel, 35, has been endorsed by the UAW and Michigan AFL-CIO over challengers  Patrick Biange and Christopher Jeffery.

Hertel said he grew in a family dedicated to public service. He has co-sponsored legislation with State Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr, D-East Lansing, who is his brother. 

State Rep. Kevin Hertel, D-St. Clair Shores, represents Michigan's 18th House District.

Hertel's priorities are to ensure health care and protect coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions, to continue to find ways to increase funding to public schools and to protect Michigan retirees by repealing the expanded pension tax. In 2018 Hertel said he worked with lawmakers to obtain a $3 million grant to reduce combined sewer overflows into Lake St. Clair.

"The priorities I fight for every day are the things that are important to the families across the 18th District. Properly funding our schools, reducing the cost of prescription drugs, protecting our environment and investing in Michigan’s infrastructure are all vital to moving our state forward," Hertel said.

Biange, 53 of St. Clair Shores, works as an independent subcontractor in education providing tutoring and other services to students for pre-college exams. From 2001 to 2009, he was in the U.S Army as a commissioned officer.

Patrick Biange

Biange says he want to focus on improving education, the environment and community well-being.

"I want to start more recycling programs that are connected to the government with incentives to bring in items with rebates or moving toward a green economy," Biange said. "Cleaning the lakes, decontamination programs, getting the community together to clean up lakes."

Jeffery did not responded to a request for comment on key issues.

In the Republican primary, Christine Timmon said her 25 years of experience, including working for the Detroit Edison engineering department, make her the right candidate.

If elected, Timmon says she wants to emphasize states' rights, create jobs training for young men and reform immigration, education and auto insurance. She also said she wants to improve safety at the Chapatan Retention Basin.

"Most people haven't a clue about this. My district could wake up in a Midland disaster or some other catastrophe," Timmon said.

Michael Babat and Brian Hakola did not respond to requests for comments.

22nd House District

Three Democrats and two Republicans are competing for a chance at for Chirkun's post in the fall election in this Democratic stronghold. 

The pandemic and the massive increase in absentee voting make this primary unpredictable, said David Dulio, director of the Center for Civic Engagement at Oakland University. Anything can happen in open seat primaries under such conditions, he said.

"With such a crowded field, you can have a winner emerging with a low percentage vote, like 20% to 25%," Dulio said.

The Democratic primary features the Roseville clerk, a former congressional aide and a Roseville school board member. 

Michael James Anderson, 26, is a Roseville school board members but is unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Anderson said he would work toward a better education system, proving an easy path to organized workplaces and make affordable health care accessible.

Michael Anderson

"Being raised in a household by a union sheet metal production worker, and a para-educator who not only founded her local union, but also later became president of it, I grew up understanding the issues of both labor and education in this state," Anderson said.

Ryan Nelson, 42, of Roseville is a former legislative aide in the U.S. House and Senate who co-launched the employment services company Hiresite. Nelson said he knows how Lansing works and how important compassionate, transparent governance is.

"When I need information to write legislation, or to vote, or to stand up and fight on an issue, I'm not going to get that information from the lobbyists or the bureaucrats in Lansing, I'm going to call and knock on doors in East Warren and Roseville and ask for the wisdom and experience from our citizens," Nelson said.

Steenland, 58, of Roseville has been the city's clerk since 2007. He worked for Macomb County from 1983 through 2007 in Juvenile Court, Friend of the Court and the Court Administrator’s Office as a judicial aide and in tax collection at the Macomb County Treasurer’s Office. 

If elected, Steenland said he would work on restoring the economy and getting past the pandemic.

Richard Steenland

"We need to ensure that we have the necessary equipment, resources, and policies in place to protect our families, employees and avoid further shutdowns," Steenland said.

In the Republican primary, Steven G. Warner is a 56-year-old Warren resident who served on City Council for 12 years. "I am running to further serve my community in a positive manner as I have for Warren," Warner said. "District 22 is an open seat and could use some fresh ideas from someone with legislative experience."

Steve Warner

Jeff Bonnell did not respond to a request for information.