MARQUETTE - Marquette County Board incumbents Harvey Wallace and Bob Struck were defeated in Tuesday's general election.
All nine members of the county board were up for re-election. There were contested races in six of the nine voting districts. The term of office is two years. The winners will be sworn in in January.
Wallace, a Democrat, was unseated in District 2 by independent challenger Mike Quayle. Wallace received 941 votes and Quayle got 1,162. Both men live in Marquette.
Quayle said he's "happy and humbled" by the support he received in the race. He said he was happy with voter turnout across the county.
"There's sweeping changes across the nation and now there's going to be changes here," Quayle said. "We've got big challenges ahead of us. It's not going to be a cake walk."
Wallace said he wishes Quayle well and hopes his time on the county board will be a positive experience.
"I was honored to serve the citizens of Marquette County for 12 years. I leave office believing that the positions I took on the issues improved county operations and services," Wallace said. "However, I also leave office angered by the actions of the four commissioners (Deborah Pellow, Jim Cihak, Charles Bergdahl and Bruce Heikkila) who because of their misguided stand on the retire-rehire issue have destroyed the positive relationships between the commissioners and county staff, elected officials and judges.
"These four have poisoned the environment with their words and votes which resulted in the resignation, last night, of our former civil council (Harley Andrews).
"It saddened me to read how he felt the commission no longer valued his work or trusted his opinion. It will take years to undo the damage that has been done."
Quayle had decided to run in the primary, but then withdrew after Don Potvin got into the race. When Potvin lost the primary to Wallace, Quayle re-entered the race as an independent.
Incumbent Republican Bob Struck of West Branch Township was defeated in the District 8 county board race by Democrat Bill Nordeen of Gwinn. Struck got 1,263 votes; Nordeen got 1,333. Nordeen has served on the county board previously.
"I think the people want change," Nordeen said. "The same group has been in control of the county board for many years and that's changing now."
Nordeen said "We look forward to change and growth."
Struck was unavailable for comment before press time today.
Incumbents in the remaining four contested districts were able to retain their seats.
In District 1, Democrat Jim Cihak beat independent challenger Gus Rydholm. Cihak got 963 votes and Rydholm received 468. Both men live in Marquette.
"I'm very appreciative of the support from District 1," Cihak said. "I'm looking forward to another productive two years on the Marquette County Commission."
Incumbent Democrat Gerald Corkin beat Republican challenger James Hafeman in District 4. Both men live in Negaunee. Corkin received 1,413 votes, compared to Hafeman's 1,090.
Corkin was unavailable for comment before press time today.
Incumbent Democrat Paul Arsenault defeated Republican challenger Lee Guizzetti in a District 6 contest. Arsenault had 1,536 votes compared to 1,171 for Guizzetti. Both men live in Ishpeming. Arsenault was unavailable for comment before press time today.
In District 9, incumbent Democrat Charles Bergdahl defeated Republican Jeff Kleinschmidt. Bergdahl got 1,474 votes and Kleinschmidt had 1,202. Kleinschmidt lives in Marquette, Bergdahl lives in Skandia.
"I'm glad I won," Bergdahl said. "Get in there one more time and see if we can't get some things done should have been done a long time ago."
One issue would be settling retire-rehire questions for the 22 workers covered under the program the county rescinded in February.
"That program was supposed to be a one-shot deal and not to keep going and going and going," Bergdahl said. "The first year, I voted for it. Now we've got close to $3 million unfunded liability and it's going to keep going up."
Bergdahl said he couldn't fault anyone who took advantage of the program, for them it's a good deal, but for the taxpayers it's not. He also said the retire-rehire program keeps positions from younger workers who want to stay in the area.
Marquette County Clerk Connie Branam said 44.9 percent of the county's 49,063 registered voters cast ballots in Tuesday's election.
That figure is down considerably since the last midterm elections four years ago, when 50 percent of voters went to the polls in Marquette County.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.