Three File for 2014 County Board Races

With about three months remaining until the April filing deadline for partisan elections, three candidates have filed petitions with the Washtenaw County clerk’s office to run for county commissioner in 2014, including two incumbents: Republican Dan Smith of District 2 and Democrat Kent Martinez-Kratz of District 1. Also running in District 1 is the third candidate to file – Republican Larry Murphy.

Petitions for the partisan primary in August 2014 must be turned in by April 22. For this race, candidates can file either 100 50 signatures from their district or pay a $100 fee to appear on the ballot. All three candidates who’ve filed so far have paid the $100 fee, according to Ed Golembiewski, the county’s director of elections.

There are nine seats on the county board. All commissioners serve two-year terms, and all seats are up for election in 2014.

Martinez-Kratz of Chelsea was first elected in 2012, and had previously served on the Chelsea city council. He defeated incumbent commissioner Republican Rob Turner in a close race to represent a district covering west and northwest portions of the county, including Chelsea and Dexter. [.pdf of District 1 map] Martinez-Kratz prevailed in the contest against Turner by a vote of 10,904 (51.34%) to 10,258 (48.3%). According to the most recent campaign finance statement filed by Martinez-Kratz on Nov. 30, 2013, his campaign fund balance was $31.51. [.pdf of campaign finance statement]

Martinez-Kratz filed a petition for re-election on Jan. 17, 2014 – three days after Republican Larry Murphy, a Scio Township resident, filed on Jan. 14. Most recently, Murphy ran for a seat on the Ann Arbor Public Schools board of education in 2011. There were six candidates vying for two positions on the AAPS board, and Murphy finished in third place with 4,427 votes (18.4%). Murphy filed to create a campaign committee for the county commissioner race on Nov. 13, 2013.

Dan Smith of Whitmore Lake, who was first elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2012, filed on Nov. 18, 2013 to run for re-election again in District 2 . That district covers north and northeast portions of Washtenaw County, including a northern part of Ann Arbor. [.pdf of District 2 map] In 2012, Smith was not challenged in either the Republican primary or the general election. There had been some controversy over a potential Democratic challenger, Eric Borregard, who was initially allowed on the ballot, in a decision that was ultimately overturned by the state Bureau of Elections.

According to an annual campaign finance statement filed on Jan. 7, 2014, Dan Smith has a campaign fund balance of $21,600. [.pdf of annual statement]

Limits on the amount that an individual can contribute to a candidate’s campaign were lifted through Public Act 252 of 2013. For this year’s local elections, the limit that any individual can contribute to a county commissioner candidate is $1,000.

In addition to the three candidates who have formally filed, other candidates have indicated plans to run for county commissioner. Incumbents Democrats Andy LaBarre (D-District 7) and Yousef Rabhi (D-District 8), both of Ann Arbor, have stated that they plan to run for re-election. At the county board’s Jan. 22, 2014 meeting, Rabhi – the board’s current chair – restated his commitment to the county board, after considering but ultimately rejecting a bid for Ann Arbor mayor.

The Chronicle queried the other Ann Arbor commissioner, Democrat Conan Smith (D-District 9) about the possibility of a mayoral candidacy or a decision to run for re-election to the county board. Smith’s reply, via email on Jan. 23: “I haven’t made any decisions about 2014 at all at this point.”

Wilma Gold-Jones, a Democrat from Ypsilanti Township, plans to run for the seat in District 5 and attended the most recent county board meeting on Jan. 22. She’s been attending board meetings for about a year. She told The Chronicle that she is collecting signatures, rather than paying a $100 filing fee, “because a 100-dollar bill doesn’t vote!” Gold-Jones is on the board of Mentor2Youth, a nonprofit that provides programs for disadvantaged youth. She filed to create a campaign committee on Nov. 27, 2013.

The District 5 seat is currently held by Democrat Rolland Sizemore Jr., who was first elected in 2000. The district covers southeast Washtenaw, including Augusta Township and much of Ypsilanti Township. [.pdf of District 5 map]