TRAVERSE CITY — Grand Traverse County Sheriff Tom Bensley, a Republican, has filed for re-election and will face Kingsley Village Council member Scott Sieffert in the primary, and Democrat Greg Hall in the general election.
Hall is a community organizer who has been sharply critical of management at the county’s jail, as well as a plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against Wellpath, the jail’s healthcare provider.
Bensley first took office Jan. 1, 2009, and has twice been re-elected.
“If you haven’t been elected to public office before, you can’t appreciate the amount of trust the public puts in you, and I get that,” Bensley said in a phone interview Tuesday.
“I don’t think of this as just a job,” he added. “I like to go to work, we have a good staff, and from what I’ve seen, I’m the best and most qualified candidate with the most experience.”
Bensley highlighted his work bringing the department through the recession without cutting staff; adding a part-time bailiff program; and working with Community Mental Health to provide full-time mental health services to inmates as some of his accomplishments.
Bensley’s main priority should he be re-elected is to staff a full-time interdiction team, he said.
Hall filed as a Democrat, so he won’t face Bensley until the general election on Nov. 3. He said medication and morale issues at the jail are indicative of overall leadership problems.
“I couldn’t sleep at night if Tom Bensley ran unopposed,” Hall said, in a phone interview Tuesday. “He’s failed the sheriff’s department, he’s failed the county and we need a new sheriff in town.”
Hall has a longstanding dispute with some municipal leaders including Bensley over the medical care his mother, Cheryl Hall, received when she was an inmate at the jail.
Hall was a military police officer from 1997 to 2001, while serving in the U.S. Air Force, has experience in security with an an armored car company and a healthcare system, he said. He also served for a brief time as a reserve police officer.
“At the end of the day its not about politics, its not about making this into a partisan race, its about change sorely needed,” Hall said.
Candidate seeking local and state offices were required to file by 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Bensley also will face one primary challenger.
Scott Sieffert, who also filed as a republican, said if elected he would increase community involvement and improve relations between the Sherriff’s Department and the Grand Traverse County Commission.
“Crime is up, recruitment is going down and we have fewer road patrol deputies when compared to other communities our size,” Sieffert said in a phone interview Tuesday. “This is nothing personal against the sheriff but the time for change is now.”
Sieffert has not worked as a deputy, and said his outsider status would be a plus. He works in personal security for an area resort and has volunteered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The primary election is Aug. 4 and should any candidates change their minds about running, they have until Friday to withdraw, said County Clerk Bonnie Scheele.
The general election is Nov. 3.
“This cycle has been more of a challenge for the candidates, the local clerks, and for the county clerk because of COVID and the stay at home order,” Scheele said. “But everyone who wanted to be on the ballot got on the ballot.”
Three people have filed to fill Larry Inman’s seat as 104th district state representative, heather Cerone (R), Dan O’Neil (D) and John R. Roth (R).
Scheele (R), Prosecuting Attorney Noelle Moeggenberg (R), County Treasurer Heidi Scheppe (R) and Register of Deeds Peggy Haines (R) all filed for re-election and have no challengers.
Drain Commissioner Steve Largent (D) will not seek re-election and Kevin McElyea (R), Andy Smits (R) and Joseph G. Underwood (R) are running for the position.
All seven Grand Traverse County Board of Commission seats are up for grabs and 14 residents — 6 democrats and 8 republicans — have filed their intent to run in the primary election, Scheele said.
Minor parties, such as the Green Party, select their own candidates at a caucus or convention that then are placed on the ballot for the General Election, she said.
The candidates on the primary ballot for Grand Traverse County commissioner, listed alphabetically by district, are:
District 1: Betsy Coffia (D) and Josephine Ferry (R); District 2: Bryce Hundley (D); District 3: Melissa Hogan (D) and Brad Jewett (R); District 4: Hal Gurian (R), Brace Kern (D), Todd M. Knipe (R), Penny Morris (R) and Dean Templeton (R); District 5: Ron Clous (R) and Jade Prange (D); District 6: Darryl V. Nelson (R) and Bruce Moore (D); and District 7: Robert Hentschel (R).
This will be the first election in more than 20 years without Addison “Sonny” Wheelock Jr. (R) on the ballot.
Wheelock, 62, lives in Long Lake Township and co-owns Wheelock and Sons Welding. He has long been hailed as the Board’s “institutional memory.”
When previously asked for his advice on serving on the county commission, Wheelock said, “do your homework. Make your voice heard.”
Township races, listed alphabetically, are as follows:
For the offices of Supervisor, Doug White (R); Clerk, Cathy Dye (R); and Treasurer, Amy Jenema (R) are all running unopposed. Jean Aukerman, Ken Crawford, David Hoxsie, Paul Scott and Dale G. Stevens, all republicans, are running for 4 Trustee seats.
For the offices of Supervisor, Nicole Blonshine (R); Clerk, Lynette Wolfgang (R); Treasurer Tracie J. Campbell (R) are all running unopposed. Lloyd Bartlett, Karin M. Cascadden, Dennis Fitzpatrick, Marilyn A. Fleis, Carl Kucera, Preston Taylor and Roger E. Zeits, all republicans, are running for 4 Trustee seats.
Incumbent Supervisor Beth Friend (R) will face Jason R. Gillman (R) in the primary. Clerk Susanne Courtade (R) and Treasurer Tracey Bartlett (R) are running for re-election unopposed. Gabrielle Bohrer (D), Matt Courtade (R), Ray Draeger (R), Brian Fenlon (D), Andrea K. Hentschel (R), Glen K. Lile (R) and Mindy Walters (R) are running for 4 Trustee seats.
Republicans Susan K. LaRose, Corie Layton and Ryan Walsh are running for 7 Park Commissioner seats.
The Supervisor primary will have three republicans vying for the position, Linda Forwerck, Roger Gibson and Gerianne Street. For the office Clerk, republican Leigh Ann Gifford is running unopposed. For Treasurer, Tom Hempsted (R) will run against Cathy L. Sorrow (R). Republicans Nicole Gibson, Elizabeth J. Pearson, Brenda Wyatt and Dawn Zimmerman and running for 2 Trustee seats.
Noreen Broering, Joyce Freiwald, Christina Gilbert, Susan Peterson-Bell and JoEllen Simpson are running for 6 non-partisan Library Board seats.
For supervisor, Chuck Korn (R) is running unopposed, as is Lanie McManus (R) for Clerk and Jeane Blood Law (R) for Treasurer. Republicans Molly Agostinelli, Chris Barsheff, Steven J. Duell, Denise Schmuckal and Dan Walters, and democrats Jill W. Bentgen, John A. Nelson, L. Eric Ranieri and Nicholas Roster are running for 4 Trustee seats.
For Supervisor, Douglas E. Moyer (R) is running unopposed, as is Nancy Morairty (R) for Clerk, and Crystal M. Breithaupt (R) and Jan M. Malik (R) for 2 Trustee seats.
Elizabeth M. Svec (R) and Lisa Willet (D) have each filed to run for Treasurer.
For Supervisor, Marvin D. Radtke, Jr. (R) is running unopposed, as are Judith L. Kramer (R) for Clerk and Andrew Marek (R) for Treasurer. Republicans David Bieganowski, Paul Biondo, Timothy Kramer, Jeff Lenten, Pat McDonald and Sherry West are running for 4 Trustee seats.
Laurie Bouwan, Sue Egelus, Mary Beth Hardwicke, Heather McAllister Kelto and Patricia A. Thompson are running for 6 non-partisan Library Board seats.
For Supervisor, Ron Lemcool (R) is running unopposed, as is Carol Hoffman (R) for Clerk and Trish Mehney (R) for Treasurer. Republicans Michael Rademaker, Duane W. Schaub, Dan Wagner and Linda Wheelock, and democrats Joel R. Casler, Marvine Cook Stamatakis, Pamela Harris Kaiser and Peter Sirnhelt are running for 4 Trustee seats.
For Supervisor, Daniel G. Bauer will run against John Emerald Ockert (R). Stephanie Wolf is running unopposed (R) for Clerk and Dean Bott (R) is running unopposed for Treasurer. Republicans Charlie Jetter and Nicole Miller have filed for 2 Trustee seats.
For Supervisor, Rob Lajko (R) is running unopposed, as is Lisa Gulliver (R) for Clerk and Margaret Laijko Lee (R) for Treasurer. Carol Stocking (R) is the only candidate for Trustee.
For Supervisor, Robert K. Manigold (R) is running unopposed, as are Rebecca Chown (R) for Clerk and Bradley Bickle (R) for Treasurer. Republicans Margaret Achorn, David K. Sanger, Warrant Wahl and Isaiah Wunsch have filed for 4 Trustee seats.
John Bercini, Lorraine Brickman, Nancy W. Davy, G. Brit Eaton, Nikki Sobkowski and Todd E. Wilson have filed for 6 non partisan Library Board seats.
For Supervisor, Douglas Mansfield (R) is running unopposed, as is Sheryl Tillitson (D) for Clerk and Constance L. Stone (R) for Treasurer. Kellie J. Fuelling (D) has filed to run for Trustee.
For Supervisor, Lois MacLean and Ron Popp, both republicans, will face off in the primary, and Janet Bachi and Cheryl Goss, also both republicans, will compete for the Clerk’s post.
Ardella M. Benak (R) will run unopposed for Treasurer. Republicans Ron Bachi, Paul Hubbell, Lloyd Lawson and Heidi Bollmuth will run for 2 Trustee seats.