TRAVERSE CITY — At least two other people want Tom Bensley's job.
Bensley, Grand Traverse County sheriff, will face former sheriff's employee and fellow Republican Kevin Sandvig in the August primary election. The winner squares off against Traverse City Police Department Detective Sgt. Joe McCarthy in the November election.
More candidates could decide to run before the May 15 filing deadline.
Bensley will complete his first term this year. He defeated two-term former Sheriff Scott Fewins in 2008 and is ready for another round.
"I like the work, and I enjoy coming to work every day," he said. "I said four years ago that I would commit the time and effort to the job, and I've done that."
Bensley, who retired in 1999 after nearly 30 years with the sheriff's department, believes the department is accessible and runs more "effectively and efficiently" after he implemented a new system that tracks how deputies spend time.
"I see improvements, I hope the people who work here see improvements, and I would hope the people in Grand Traverse County see improvements," he said.
His tenure hasn't been without issues, he said, including a 2010 incident in which two deputies failed to arrest Traverse City police officer Joe Soffredine. An off-duty Soffredine drove drunk and crashed his vehicle along Cedar Run Road. Bensley eventually fired the deputies for not making an arrest.
The situation was troubling, Bensley said, but he believes it was handled appropriately.
His opponents focused their campaigns on a number of proposals, and cite their own experience as job preparation.
Sandvig worked for the sheriff's department for 10 years as a corrections officer and before that retired after 21 years with the United States Coast Guard. He left the sheriff's department last April as part of a settlement related to an injury he sustained while struggling with an inmate, he said.
"I never planned on getting hurt ... I still want to work," he said. "Law enforcement's been a big part of my life for a lot of years, and I'm not ready to give up yet."
Sandvig wants the county's animal control services to move under the sheriff's department. The health department currently oversees animal control. He believes communication problems are rampant and the organization doesn't make sense.
"Animal abuse, neglect and cruelty is a criminal matter, so why shouldn't it be with the sheriff's department?" he said.
Sandvig also wants to start a department youth mentoring program and see the sheriff connect more with county citizens.
"Right now, I would say four out of five people I talk to as I travel around the county don't know who their sheriff is. Why?" he said. "I'll ask them to name two deputies, and they can't. Why?"
McCarthy has been with the city police since 1987, serving as a patrol officer, school liaison officer and detective, among other roles. He supervised other detectives and handled several high-profile city investigations since he became a detective sergeant in 2004.
"I'm at a point in my career where I'm ready for the challenge of running an organization like the Grand Traverse Sheriff's Office," he said.
McCarthy said he has more experience supervising road patrol operations and criminal investigations than other candidates. Bensley supervised the department's marine, snowmobile and off-road vehicle divisions, and Sandvig worked in the jail.
McCarthy is unhappy with several actions under Bensley. The department no longer has liaison officers at Traverse City West and East middle schools, West Senior High or Kingsley schools and has outdated computers in some patrol vehicles, McCarthy said. Despite those concerns, Bensley spent $800,000 on a building to house boats and other items for winter storage, McCarthy said.
"I think we erred in where our priorities were with that," he said.
Both he and Sandvig want to reinstate the liaison programs. Bensley said the schools paid about half the cost of liaison officers, and the county board — which controls the sheriff's budget — didn't want to continue the program unless schools chipped in.
McCarthy also criticized Bensley's labor track record, which he called "disappointing at best."
'"I hope I'll be more successful in dealing with differences of opinion in regards to labor issues," said McCarthy, who served as a union representative for several years.
TRAVERSE CITY — At least two other people want Tom Bensley's job.
Funding issues leave Division's fate unknown
Fixing the crowded and sometimes dangerous Division Street traffic corridor will take years and no one knows yet how the project will be funded, Michigan's top transportation official said.Continued ...
McDowell concedes race to Benishek
Democrat Gary McDowell has conceded his close race for Congress against Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek to serve northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.Continued ...
Unofficial Antrim voting totals online
Antrim County unofficial voting totals were still being updated on Wednesday, but are now accurate and complete, said election officials there.Continued ...
State election results online
Full, unofficial 2012 Michigan General Election Results can be found online at http://miboecfr.nictusa.com/election/results/12GEN/.Continued ...
Voters were driven by issues
Aside from the customary elation and disappointment following a presidential campaign, area voters said they'd really like to see politicians spend less and solve more.Continued ...
School millage failure puts plans in limbo
Many improvement plans at the region's largest school district are in limbo after voters rejected a $100 million tax increase.Continued ...
Recount possible in House race
Michigan's 1st Congressional District may go to a recount to determine if incumbent Republican Dan Benishek's victory will hold.Continued ...
Franz wins by 1,030 votes
Voters in Benzie and Leelanau counties played a critical role in reelecting conservative Republican Ray Franz to the Michigan House of Representatives, vote tallies show.Continued ...
Weaver, Bishop claim open seats on NMC board
The second time for Kennard Weaver was the charm.Continued ...
MacMaster easily wins reelection
Republican Greg MacMaster handily defeated Democratic opponent William Wieske in the race for state representative in Michigan's 105th District.Continued ...
General election roundup
Editor's note: Final, unofficial results from the Nov. 6 general election.Continued ...
- Wednesday, November 7, 2012
McDowell hasn't conceded congressional race
Former state Rep. Gary McDowell has not conceded his race for the 1st Congressional District and will wait for county boards of canvassers to certify election results before determining his next step.Continued ...
Weaver wins spot on NMC board
Kennard Weaver ousted a long-time trustee on the board of Northwestern Michigan College to claim one of two openings.Continued ...
GT County Commission all Republican now
The lone Democrat on the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners is out of a job.Continued ...
Benishek won by less than 1 percent
Incumbent Republican Dan Benishek edged Democratic challenger Gary McDowell by less than 1 percent to win a second term representing the 1st Congressional District.Continued ...
Rendon takes 103rd state House seat
Campaign staffers for newcomer Democrat Lon Johnson has said that he lost his bid for the 103rd State House District seat to incumbent Lake City businessman and Republican Bruce R. Rendon.Continued ...
Voters appear to favor Division Street plan
City voters appeared to favor a proposal to give the state and city the go-ahead to come up with plans to make dangerous, busy Division Street safer for drivers and pedestrians.Continued ...
Grand Traverse, Benzie voters pick probate judges
Two local counties will have new probate judges.Continued ...
Three-way race for NMC trustees still open
A three-way race for two seats on the Northwestern College Board was too close to call at press time.Continued ...
2 incumbents retain seats on Leelanau County board
Two incumbents on the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners won re-election.Continued ...
County board incumbents hold leads
Voters likely will return three incumbents to the Grand Traverse County board and a fourth race was too close to call early today.Continued ...
Dems look to narrow gap in House
All 110 seats in the Michigan House were up for grabs Tuesday, with Democrats looking to narrow the gap with the Republican majority that took over of the chamber just two years ago.Continued ...
Appel wins TCAPS board seat
Gary Appel appeared to cruise to re-election to the Traverse School Board.Continued ...
Franz ahead in 101st District of Michigan House
Republican Ray Franz held a lead against his Democratic opponent in the race for the Michigan House of Representatives' 101st District.Continued ...
Michigan shoots down propositions
Michigan voters say they don't need to weigh in on whether new bridges or tunnels are built between their state and Canada.Continued ...
- Funding issues leave Division's fate unknown