MUNISING - Incumbent 5th District Probate Court Judge Charles Nebel of Munising defeated challenger Dan Beaton of Manistique in a close race to fill an unexpired term on the bench.
The court jurisdiction includes Alger and Schoolcraft counties. With Nebel in Alger county and Beaton in Schoolcraft, the race took on the feel of a neighboring towns football rivalry.
Each candidate won their respective counties, but Nebel prevailed overall by 261 votes. A total of 6,769 votes were cast, including 3,075 in Schoolcraft County and 3,694 in Alger County.
In Schoolcraft County, Beaton had 1,959 votes to 1,116 for Nebel. In Alger County, Beaton received 1,295 votes and Nebel got 2,399.
"I am thrilled with the support from the Alger and Schoolcraft County voters and am looking forward to interacting with all of the families in our district," Nebel said. "I'm awestruck and grateful for the tireless efforts of those family and friends that helped our election team. I would also like to congratulate Mr. Beaton on a well run campaign."
Beaton was unavailable for comment before press time today.
Nebel received an appointment to his 5th District probate judgeship from Gov. Jennifer Granholm in March 2009. Michigan Assistant Attorney General Beaton is a Manistique native.
Nebel will fill an unexpired term that was created when Judge William Carmody was appointed to the Alger County Circuit Court bench after Judge Charles Stark retired. The term ends Dec. 31, 2012.
Beaton and Nebel emerged as the top two vote-getters in the primary election, with Kirt Harmon of Munising also running.
In the primary, Beaton received the most votes of the three candidates with a total of 1,963 votes, including 1,356 from Schoolcraft County and 607 from Alger County. Nebel received 1,526 votes, 470 in Schoolcraft County and 1,056 in Alger. Harmon had 676 votes, 303 from Schoolcraft County and 373 from Alger County.
Both candidates had hurdles to overcome in the minds of voters. Nebel was convicted of impaired driving in July 2009 and censured by the Judicial Tenure Commission. He received a 90-day suspension without pay.
Beaton, though a registered voter and property owner in Schoolcraft County, has had long-time job with the state in lower Michigan and was perceived as an outsider by some area residents.
Nebel is a 1979 Munising High School graduate and a 1983 graduate of Albion College. He graduated from the Detroit College of Law and passed the bar exam in 1986.
Prior to his judicial experience, Nebel was a partner with his father in the Nebel and Nebel law office in Munising.
He regularly appeared as a trial attorney in the various courts throughout the central Upper Peninsula for more than 20 years, including frequent contact with the probate and family court in Alger and Schoolcraft counties.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.