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Controversial prosecutor's race highlights contests in Macomb County

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

The prosecutor's race has emerged as Macomb County's highest profile contest after the controversial resignation of the Democratic incumbent and the entrance of a Republican state senator.

Much attention has been focused on who will become the county’s next prosecuting attorney, following the resignation of Eric Smith, who is facing with embezzlement charges. Three others, including two of his former assistant prosecutors, are charged in the alleged scheme.

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

County voters also will decide key countywide offices, local contests and ballot proposals in some communities on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Former Macomb Circuit Judge Mary Chrzanowski, a Democrat, and state Sen. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, are facing off for the job. Both candidates have pledged to restore respect and integrity to the Prosecutor’s Office, tarnished by a scandal still playing out in the courts.

“For 24 years I served as your circuit judge protecting you and your families,” said Chrzanowski, 58, of Harrison Township. “I am the most qualified candidate to serve as your next prosecuting attorney. I believe in our system of justice and will serve with humility and pride, providing equal justice for all.”

Lucido, 59, said he plans to “return trust to the Prosecutor’s Office and rid corruption in Macomb County including an anti-corruption and integrity task force bringing transparency to the office and a process where all citizens can bring corrupt behavior forward and know it will be fairly investigated.”

”(I will) keep the citizens safe and advocate for victim’s rights, especially the vulnerable such as seniors and disabled, including protecting the rights of pets which play an important role in families and with seniors,” he said. ”Bring justice for all citizens of Macomb County regardless of race, nationality, religion or financial status."

Mary Chrzanowski, a Democrat running for Macomb County Prosecuting Attorney

Chrzanowski, nicknamed by defense attorneys as “Scary Mary” for her tough sentences of their clients, has said stiff sentencing is not enough.

“We also need to address the problems which caused the individual to commit the crime,” she said. “Whenever possible, I will utilize existing problem-solving courts to treat substance abuse disorders, mental health and veteran’s issues. For many of our most vulnerable, being home is not being safe.

“Battered spouses, victims of child abuse and elder abuse are often unheard. I will create Macomb County’s first Domestic Violence Court to treat offenders and stop the cycle of violence. I am running to be prosecutor for all the people, to give a voice to crime victims and speak out against injustice.”

Voters will also contest races for treasurer, clerk/register of deeds, sheriff and public works commissioner.

Incumbent Treasurer Larry Rocca, a Republican, is being challenged by Democrat Lorie Barnwell, Warren’s treasurer who has vowed, among other things, to “eliminate payment fees, install new money-saving technology that will expand payment options and provide greater investment return and transparency."

Incumbent Anthony Wickersham, a Democrat, and Republican Terence Mekoski are the choices for the county sheriff’s job.

Mekoski has 34 years in law enforcement, including on a federal drug task force. Currently a senior financial investigator with the Drug Enforcement Administration, Mekoski said he will put “safety first” if elected sheriff. Wickersham has been the sheriff for nine years.

Clerk Fred Miller, a Democrat, is being challenged by Anthony G. Forlini, a Republican. Candice Miller, a Republican, will seek another four-year term as public works commissioner against a challenge from Toni Moceri, a Democrat.

Community contests

Sixteen communities will decide various local offices, from library boards to supervisor. Several offices are uncontested. Thirty-six communities will conduct school board elections, many uncontested.

Ten candidates seek three six-year terms on the Macomb Community College Board of Trustees.

All but two county judicial races are uncontested on the November ballot. Current Probate Court Judge Kathryn A. George is being challenged by Lynn Maison for a six-year term. Two non-incumbents, Kathleen Galen and Michael D. Klinefelt, seek a six-year term on the 38th District Court.

Proposals

Among local ballot proposals in six communities, Warren voters will decide whether to limit the term of its mayor to three terms. Currently, the mayor has a limit of five terms, or 20 years, while offices of City Council, clerk and treasurer are all limited to three terms or 12 years.

St. Clair Shores residents will take up a proposal to require residents be given at least two minutes per person to speak at council meetings on matters requiring a vote and also a second period of public comment near the end of each council meeting.

In Sterling Heights, a city charter proposal would be amended to provide that the mayor and council members serve a four-year term of office. A second charter amendment proposal would set the number of signatures on nominating petitions required for elective office at a minimum of 400 of the city’s registered voters and no more than 1,000 voters.

Memphis voters will decide a police protection millage proposal of up to 2.9871 mills for six years. The proposal would raise $80,460 in its first year.

Utica voters will consider a marijuana business ordinance amendment that would revise the existing ordinance, increasing the number of locations from two to three for the sale of medical and recreational marijuana south of Hall Road and on the west side of Van Dyke.

Bruce Township will decide whether to increase the number of township board members from five to seven members. The additional members would be elected at the next general November election.

mmartindale@detroitnews.com

(248) 338-0319