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Macomb: Chrzanowski triumphs among Dems, Lucido for GOP in prosecutor battle

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Macomb County voters went to the polls Tuesday to choose primary winners for offices including county prosecutor, with that seat open for the first time in 16 years, after the late-March resignation of Prosecutor Eric Smith.

In a back-and-forth race in the Democratic primary for prosecutor, with 100% of precincts reporting, former Macomb County Circuit judge Mary Chrzanowski defeated former Waterford District judge Jodi Switalski, 34.6% to 32.3%, followed by attorney Saima Khalil with 17%, former county commissioner Tom Rombach with 11% and attorney Eva Tkacyzk with 5%.

On the Republican side, state Sen. Peter Lucido triumphed over Richard John Goodman, 68% to 31%. 

The winners of the primary races will face off in November to replace Smith, a Democrat who resigned March 30 after being charged with misusing $600,000 in forfeiture funds seized in drug and drunken driving cases between 2012 and 2018.

ELECTION RESULTS: Follow along as they come in

Goodman, 64, of Romeo, spent 30 years in the county prosecutor’s office, including heading the juvenile court division for five years. Goodman stressed he was “not a career politician.”

“I am running on my reputation, not on a recognized political name," he said. "I have no personal agenda.

“I will pursue justice rigorously and dedicate myself to promoting excellence in the office. I will make the office a place where the assistant prosecutors are well-trained and Macomb County citizens can feel confident in their prosecutor and the assistants."

Macomb County prosecutor candidate, Michigan Senator Peter Lucido at Palazzo Grande in Shelby Township, Michigan on July 23, 2020.

Lucido, 59, who served in the state House from 2015-18 before being elected to the Senate, emphasized the importance of ensuring public faith when he announced his candidacy in April.

“I’ve been a lawyer, a criminal defender and employed 50 people working in my (law) firm,” Lucido said. “The prosecutor’s office presents some big challenges right now, and I want to help restore trust in the office.”

But Lucido faced controversy early this year when a reporter, a fellow lawmaker and a former lobbyist, all women, accused him of sexually harassing them. 

A Michigan Senate investigation found his conduct to be "inappropriate workplace behavior" and led to his removal as chairman of the Advice and Consent Committee. Investigators concluded that none of the complaints could be "unequivocally substantiated," according to a memo from the Senate Business Office but found the accusers to be "credible.

Chrzanowski, who was a judge in Macomb County Circuit Court for 24 years — where she earned the nickname "Scary Mary" for her tough sentencing — touted her long service on the bench as the reason voters should back her. 

Chrzanowski, 58, of Harrison Township, said she would bring "accountability and transparency" to the prosecutor's office, as well as innovation.

Rombach, 62, emphasized his experience, too, saying he has spent more than three decades arguing cases in court. Besides being a county commissioner, he served on the Macomb County Charter Commission and as city prosecutor for Hazel Park.

Khalil, 40, of Sterling Heights, said her experience as a litigator made her "the only candidate that is right for this job.”

"I am a litigation attorney,” she said. “I have served the most vulnerable communities in Macomb County. "I take the cases that no one wants because they are complex, and the client often suffers from every issue imaginable."

Switalski, 49, of Harrison Township, says her work as a judge and prosecutor makes her the best person to take over as Macomb County's chief prosecutor. She was appointed judge in Oakland County's 51st District Court in 2010 and won reelection in 2012. Before that, she was a Macomb County assistant prosecutor from 2004 to 2009.

 “I’m the right person for the job because I’ve done the job,” Switalski said. “I’ve prosecuted criminals and put them in jail ... I’m ready to move up to chief prosecutor and do even more to safeguard the citizens of Macomb County.”

Tkaczyk, 46, a defense attorney from Chesterfield Township, said on her campaign website that she would focus on improving the technology, organization and human resources in the prosecutor's office if elected. "The improvement of these three components will help pursue and punish offenders and to protect communities in Macomb County," she wrote. "Safe communities in Macomb County is my goal."

Voters also were deciding primary races for these offices:

►Two Republicans, Terence Mekoski and Michael Wrathell, competed to run against Sheriff Anthony Wickersham, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary. Mekoski won about 60% of the vote and will move on to November's race.

►Four Republicans competed for the right to run against Democratic county Clerk Fred Miller, who was unopposed in his party's primary: former state Rep. Anthony Forlini; Daniel Joseph Russell; Jackie Ryan, who was deputy clerk under former county Clerk Karen Spranger; and Julie A. Williams, a former employee in the county clerk and purchasing offices. Forlini won with about 45% of the vote.

►Treasurer Larry Rocca, a Republican, faced a challenge for his party's nomination from Sherri Murphy, a former deputy county treasurer, and Erin Stahl, a former St. Clair Shores councilwoman and former county deputy register of deeds. Rocca won with 48% of the vote and will face Warren city treasurer Lorie Barnwell in November. Barnwell was unopposed on the Democratic ballot.

►Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller, a Republican, and Democratic challenger Toni Moceri, a former county commissioner, were unopposed for their parties' nominations.

In other races in Macomb County:

►Former Macomb Township supervisor Mark Grabow, seeking a return to his old job, faced off against Frank Viviano in the Republican primary for supervisor. Viviano won with 67% of the vote.

Since no Democrat filed to run, the winner is assured of taking over the top job in the township, which has been roiled by the corruption convictions of two former trustees and a whistleblower suit filed this spring against retiring supervisor Janet Dunn.

►Close calls: In the Democratic race for the Macomb County Commission 4th District, Carole Chi beat out Tim Hamlin by just 87 votes.

In the Macomb Township race for four trustee positions, Republicans Peter Lucido III, Frank Cusumano, Nancy Nevers and Charlie Oliver were the top vote-getters, but Oliver's 3,393 votes were just 50 more than the next-highest competitor, Lisa Nash, who earned 3,343 votes.

►Washington Township supervisor Dan O'Leary was defeated in the Republican primary by Sebastian Sam Previti. O'Leary has stirred controversy with his demands for the township to have a greater say in a joint parks district that includes Romeo and Bruce Township and his blunt criticism of opponents. According to unofficial results, Previti won with 58.6% of the vote to 41.438.5% for O'Leary.