TRAVERSE CITY — The Grand Traverse County Board will have two new faces come January, though the 2-5 political balance between Democrats and Republicans remains unchanged.

Republican Darryl Nelson of Williamsburg won the seat being vacated by Gordie La Pointe who did not seek re-election.

“I’m a combination of grateful, humbled and a little bit terrified,” Nelson said of his win. “Now is when the works starts. Now is when we have to roll up our sleeves.”

Other results are as follows:

In district 1, incumbent Democrat Betsy Coffia kept her seat with 5,288 votes to Republican challenger Josephine Ferry’s tally of 3,833.

“It’s so humbling, it’s such an honor to have folks’ confidence and a mandate to go back and do the work,” Coffia said. “Even for the voters who did not support me, my door is open. I’ll continue to be deeply committed to constituent services.”

Coffia said working toward a culture of ethics and transparency with the board will be a priority as will seeking solutions to affordable housing with county-available tools such as the land bank authority.

In district 3, incumbent Republican Brad Jewett kept his seat with 4,521 votes to Democratic challenger Melissa Hogan’s 3,791.

“I’d like to say thank you to my constituents that believed in me,” Jewett said. “We’ll keep moving the county forward, especially on the pension debt. We made some good ground there the last two years but we can’t afford to let it go on unattended.”

In district 4, a Democrat, Brace Kern and Republican Penny Morris were both seeking the seat to be vacated by Addison “Sonny” Wheelock, Jr. in Long Lake Township. Morris won the contest with 4,948 votes to Kern’s 3,579.

In district 5, Republican incumbent Ron Clous kept his seat with 4,276 votes to challenger Jade Prange’s 2,341.

“I’m happy with it,” Clous said of his win, after complimenting Prange on her campaign. “I’m looking forward to continuing to serve the community.”

Clous will begin his fourth term in January and said he sees his role as one of protecting taxpayer finances.

“I’m always watching for anything that’s burdened on to the taxpayer that shouldn’t be,” he said.

Prange said that while the outcome of the election wasn’t what she had hoped, being a part of a campaign for public office was a good experience.

“I am very proud of the campaign I ran and I feel so grateful seeing that over 2,000 people in my community put their trust in me and wanted me to represent them,” Prange said.

Prange said she plans continued involvement in local politics and did not rule out running for office again in the future.

In district 6, a seat soon to be vacated by La Pointe, Nelson bested Democrat Bruce Moore with 4,533 votes to 3,492.

Moore, a frequent attendee at county board meetings and a regular commenter during pubic comment, said he planned to continue this involvement.

“In the near term, dealing with the pandemic is going to be front and center in my attention,” Moore said. “We’re in exponential growth right now but we’re still at a point where we can arrest this.”

In district 2, Democrat Bryce Hundley ran unopposed, as did Republican Rob Hentschel in district 7.

“I’m sure that the new folks will be good to work with and I’m looking forward to getting to know them,” Hundley said. “That said, I’m thoroughly delighted I’ll get to continue to work with Betsy.”

Coffia is the only other Democrat elected for the next term and the two have seen eye-to-eye on a variety of issues from jail reform to the importance of an ethics policy.

During the current term the board stuck to party lines on several controversial votes, including support of a Line 5 tunnel in the Straits of Mackinac, support of a resolution on the Second Amendment and support of the county’s general human resources policy which does not contain language on conflict of interest specifically addressing commissioners.

The board has also agreed on some issues, including paying more than required on the pension debt.

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