Julia Owdziej and Tracy Van den Bergh will advance to the Nov. 4 election for Washtenaw County probate judge, following the outcome of a five-way race in the nonpartisan Aug. 5 primary.
Countywide, Conlin received 16,043 votes (44.85%) and Liem garnered 14,779 votes (41.32%). Coming in third was Woodyard with 4,856 votes (13.58%). Overall, 44,823 ballots were cast throughout Washtenaw County in this race, which translated to a 16.28% turnout, according to unofficial results on the Washtenaw County elections website.
The winner of the Nov. 4 contest between Conlin and Liem will fill the open seat left by judge Donald Shelton, who turned 70 in June. According to Michigan state law, only a person under the age of 70 can be appointed or run for the position of judge.
Conlin and Liem are local attorneys, while Woodyard works in the Wayne County prosecutor’s office. A second seat on the 22nd circuit court is also up for election, as judge David Swartz is at the end of a six-year term. He is uncontested in his effort to retain the 22nd circuit court incumbent seat.
Owdziej received 11,314 votes (31.21%) with Van den Bergh getting 10,172 votes (28.06%). They will advance to the Nov. 4 general election. Bassett received 5,207 votes (14.36%), with 4,925 votes for Garwood (13.59%), and 4,560 votes for Constance Jones (12.58%). In this race, 44,890 ballots were cast countywide, for a voter turnout of 16.3%, according to unofficial results posted by the Washtenaw County elections division.
Owdziej had been appointed to the seat by Gov. Rick Snyder on June 2, 2014, to fill the vacancy on the court left by Nancy Wheeler’s retirement. The announcement of that retirement came on May 1, after candidates had filed to run. Wheeler was expected to retire at the end of the year, but it came earlier than expected due to health reasons. Bassett, Garwood and Jones currently work in private practice while Van den Bergh is a staff attorney for a legal services nonprofit.
Both judicial races showed a similar pattern, comparing the countywide vote to the city of Ann Arbor. The two candidates who were strongest across the county – Conlin for the circuit judgeship and Owdziej for the probate judgeship – were not the strongest candidates in the city of Ann Arbor. Strongest in the city of Ann Arbor for probate and circuit court were Liem and Van den Bergh, respectively.
Below are charts showing outcomes for both the probate and 22nd circuit court judicial races, with a ward-by-ward breakdown for the city of Ann Arbor.