Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 3, 2010

Leelanau board chair's write-in effort fails

By Bill O'Brien

LELAND — Leelanau County's board chairwoman failed in an effort to keep her seat through a write-in campaign, while four other board incumbents coasted to victory at Tuesday's general election.

Leelanau Township fruit farmer Tom Van Pelt handily won election to the District 1 seat by defeating outgoing board chair Mary Tonnenberger.

Van Pelt beat Tonnenberger in the Republican primary in August. She then launched a write-in campaign and collected almost 500 write-in votes in District 1, which includes Leelanau Township and a small portion of Suttons Bay.

She finished with less than 39 percent of the vote and lost by more than 280 votes.

Van Pelt owns Overlook Farms near Northport and is a longtime member of the Cherryland Rural Electric Cooperative board. His wife, Deb, is Leelanau Township clerk.

The other four sitting county board members handily defeated their opponents. Richard Schmuckal won District 3, David Shiflett took District 5, David Marshall clinched District 6 and long-time Commissioner Melinda Lautner won District 7. All but Marshall are Republicans. Commissioners Jean Watkoski of Elmwood Township and James Schaub of Suttons Bay were unopposed Tuesday.