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Ficano, Worthy, top familiar names on Wayne Co. ballot

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Wayne County voters will see familiar names of those running for county offices on next month’s ballot, but just two will be in competitive races.

Ficano

Former county executive Robert Ficano is vying with seven others for a judgeship on the Third Circuit Court and Kym Worthy, a Democrat, is facing off against Libertarian candidate David Afton of Dearborn. Most other candidates for county offices won their Democratic primaries in August and have no competition on Nov. 8.

Jina Sawani, a spokeswoman for Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett, said the Election Division of the clerk’s office hasn’t seen “any situations similar to this year’s” since 1965.

Ficano will be one of eight nonincumbents campaigning for four, 6-year terms at the circuit court. He received the sixth most votes among 21 candidates in the August primary to advance to the general election.

Ficano, who also served as Wayne County sheriff from 1983 to 2003, said he will be a fair and open-minded judge and his experience will also be a benefit.

“I think I can make a difference in people’s lives,” said Ficano, a lawyer since the 1970s and who teaches constitutional law at the Wayne County Community College District.

Ficano lost his 2014 re-election bid for county executive amid a federal corruption probe. He noted he was never a target and was complimented for his cooperation in the investigation. While he was never charged, several of his aides were.

In addition to Ficano, other candidates for the four terms are Melissa Cox, a Northville lawyer; Matthew Evans, a lawyer who grew up in Riverview; 36th District Court Judge Wanda Evans; Thomas John Hathaway, a lawyer; Brian Morrow, deputy chief in the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office; Kelly Ramsey, special assistant attorney general; and Regina Thomas, a Grosse Pointe Woods attorney.

In four of the five races for the countywide posts, the incumbents are running unopposed.

Sheriff Benny Napoleon, Clerk Cathy Garrett, Treasurer Eric Sabree and Register of Deeds Bernard Youngblood are the sole candidates for new four-year terms in office.

Worthy

Worthy is the lone top county official being challenged for her office. Worthy, the county’s prosecutor since 2004, said voters should look at her record.

“We have had a long record of successes and a long record of not being afraid to do the right thing, no matter who is involved,” she said.

She said sometimes her office is criticized for taking too long to make decisions on criminal charges on cases, but “we’re very proud of the fact that we are very thorough about everything that we do.”

Worthy also points to her accomplishments as prosecutor, including establishing her office’s Elder Abuse Unit and leading the effort to process more than 11,000 rape test kits that were found in a Detroit Police warehouse in 2009.

Afton said he would make a better prosecutor.

“Unlike Worthy, I embrace the idea that the greater justice is to prevent injustice,” he said. “That is to say, there are many practices and policies of the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office that not only fail to prevent injustice, but even promote manifest injustice.

“Kym Worthy has strayed from and even violated her moral, ethical and fiduciary duties to the people of Wayne County.”

Afton said he worked for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Asset Forfeiture Division in the late 1990s. After graduating from law school in 2000, he practiced criminal and family law.

His twin brother, Steve, is the Libertarian candidate for Oakland County prosecutor. The two unsuccessfully ran for prosecutor in Wayne and Oakland counties in 2012.

Re-election bids for the majority of incumbents on the Wayne County Commission also have no opposition.

Eleven of 15 county commissioners are unopposed. The only four vying against challengers are:

■Tim Killeen, D-Detroit. He faces Republican candidate John Steininger for the seat representing the first district, which also covers the Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods.

■Terry Marecki, R-Livonia. She’s being challenged by Democrat Patrick Crandell in the county’s 9th District, which also covers the city of Northville and Northville Township.

■Joe Barone, R-Plymouth. He’s defending his 10th District seat against Canton Democrat Nate Smith-Tyge. The 10th District covers the city of Plymouth as well as Plymouth and Canton townships.

■Joe Palamara, D-Grosse Ile. He’s running against Ecorse Republican Patrick O’Connell in the 15th District, which also covers Gibraltar, River Rouge, Riverview, Southgate, Trenton and Wyandotte.

cramirez@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2058