Primary elections not needed in most Downriver cities

By JAMES MITCHELL and GABRIEL GOODWIN
Sunday Times Newspaper

Only two Downriver cities will hold primary elections in August after the candidate petition filing deadline passed Tuesday. Trenton will hold a primary for city council while Taylor’s ballot will feature more candidates than any time in recent history City Clerk Cynthia Bower said.

In Trenton, voters will be asked to narrow a field of 10 city council candidates down to six for the November general election, during which three four-year positions are up for re-election.

At least two newcomers will join the panel this fall as incumbents Terrence Teifer and Tim Taylor declined to seek re-election.

Ten candidates filed for the three open seats by Tuesday’s deadline for nominating petitions, and voters will be asked on Aug. 6 to reduce the field to six for the November ballot. Incumbent Timber R. Baun-Crooks will seek re-election along with nine other candidates: Bob Baker, W. Dan Gillespie, Bob Keller, Tom Kinney, Terry Kuharsky, Pamela O’Bryan, Nelson Perugi, Steven Rzeppa and Eric Vargo. Candidates had until Friday to withdraw their nominating petition. Baun-Crooks has served on city council since 2001, and previously from 1991 to 1999.

The two departing councilmen take with them decades of service. Teifer, currently mayor pro tem, has served six consecutive terms on city council, and Taylor has served since first being elected in 1988.

In Lincoln Park, the only elected official guaranteed to continue serving in current capacity after this year’s elections will be City Treasurer Paula Lulko. Lulko is the lone candidate to submit a petition, and will be unopposed.

All other candidates will have to wait for November. The offices of mayor, clerk and seven city council seats each attracted challengers, although not enough to require an August primary election.

For the office of mayor, voters will choose between incumbent Patricia Diaz Krause and former Police Chief Thomas Karnes, who retired from the department in October.

Longtime City Clerk Donna Breeding will again face a November challenge from Richard Kudrak, whom she outpaced in 2011 by a 3-1 margin. Breeding has held the clerk’s seat since first elected in 1993.

The six city council seats — the mayor makes the seventh voting member of the elected panel — will feature at least two new faces after November. Incumbents Tracy Bush, whose 2011 election marked her first foray into office, and Suzanne Moreno, elected twice before beginning in 2009, did not file petitions seeking re-election.

Voters will choose six council members from 10 candidates, including four incumbents: Council President Thomas Murphy, whose lengthy city hall service began on council in 1975 and includes two terms as treasurer; Mario DiSanto, first appointed in 2001 to fill a vacancy and re-elected six times since; Joseph Kaiser, first elected in 2009; and Mark Kandes, who has served since 2001.

New and familiar candidates round out the ballot for council, including James Chapman; Chris Dardzinski, who in 2011 lost a primary election bid for mayor; Deborah Henderson, who ran for council in 2011; Larry Kelsey, who also tested the candidate waters two years ago and in 2012 was appointed to the Public Safety Commission; Thomas Parkinson, who ran for council in 2011; and Elliott Zelenak, the son of City Attorney Edward Zelenak.

In Riverview, the city council will be the focus in the general election in Riverview. The city council has the only seats up for grabs. Three seats have opened on the council and there will be five contenders vying for those spots.

The mayor and the three other council seats are occupied until 2015.

The candidates for city council are James Makowski, James Trombley, Andrew Swift, David Ryan, and Dean Workman.

James Makowski is a civil and criminal attorney by day and has run for a seat on the Board of Education three separate times and came up short – 2009, 2011 and 2012. He applied for the appointment to Kathleen Bosman’s spot on the council when she stepped down and ultimately turned down.

James Trombley and Andrew Swift are both currently sitting around the horseshoe as councilmembers. David Ryan is a wild card in this election because he is a councilmember but inherited the seat on the council when Betty Priskorn resigned in Nov. 2012.

Rounding out the names on the ballot for city council is Dean Workman. He is currently the Riverview’s City Manager but is set to retire July 1.

In Southgate, even before the first ballots are cast some changes will be certain at city hall following the November general election. Councilwoman Jan Ferencz will run unopposed for the city clerk post now held by Thomas Alexander, who will not seek re-election.

For the 2013 fall contest, the city’s seven council seats are up for election, along with the offices of mayor, clerk and treasurer. Each elected position serves two-year terms, and by Tuesday’s filing deadline nominating petitions resulted in no contests for Mayor Joseph Kuspa and Treasurer James Dallos.

Kuspa, 56, has served two terms as mayor, and last month announced his intention to keep serving and see continued progress on revitalizing projects such as the Southgate Shopping Center. Cost-cutting measures launched in 2009, Kuspa said, helped the city avoid layoffs or service reductions felt elsewhere in Downriver communities.

For the seven council seats, 12 candidates filed nominating petitions; however, veterans Phillip Rauch and Chris Rollet are nearing the end of their fourth two-year term— as is Ferencz for council service — and term-limited from eligibility. All 12 candidates will advance to the November general election.

Incumbent Council President Karen George and Councilors Bill Volovos, Patrica Ganzberger and Dale Zemecki are running for office, and will be joined on the ballot by newcomers Ernest Abercrombie, Sheryl Denham, Gerald A. Dusik, Edward J. Gawlik Jr., Jon Graziani, Altinia Kandrevas and Dino Papadopoulous.

Allen Park and Melvindale won’t hold elections for government positions this year, but there will be millage proposals to be voted on. Wyandotte held its general election for government officials May 7.

(Gabriel Goodwin can be reached at ggoodwin@bewickpublications.com. James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)

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