TRAVERSE CITY — Embattled Mayor Michael Estes easily won re-election as voters stuck with the person they considered most qualified for the job.
Estes defeated challenger Rick Buckhalter by capturing 57 percent of the ballots cast, despite his recent drunken driving arrest. Several voters told the Record-Eagle they had concerns about Estes, but weren’t willing to cast their lot with Buckhalter.
“Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know,” said Ginger Preston.
More than one in 10 voters skipped casting a vote for mayor and another 215 people chose a write-in candidate.
“I don’t know the one candidate (Buckhalter) and I really don’t like Estes very much,” said Debbie Donick, who didn’t vote for either.
Maura Brennan also didn’t vote for either one. Estes’ arrest clinched that stance.
Others admitted they were bothered by Estes’ arrest, but were willing to overlook it.
“Michael Estes has done a good job, despite all the recent distractions,” said Lisa Raymo.
Rhonda Hudson said Estes’ drunken driving incident made her selection for mayor confusing, but she eventually decided to vote for him.
“We all make mistakes and he’s done good things as mayor,” Hudson said.
Buckhalter said his greatest disappointment was his campaign didn’t get his message across that the city commission will have the right to shut down the city’s fire department through a merger or consolidation.
“I guess I’m not a skilled enough speaker,” he said.