When voters head to the polls Tuesday for the primary election, some of the first real tangible ramifications of last year's reapportionment process will emerge.
The reapportionment plan reconfigured the county's commissioner districts, reducing the number from nine to six. In some cases, this will pit incumbent commissioners against each other in primary and general election races for the board. The new terms will begin Jan. 1.
The new redistricting plan was controversial for many people, including some on the board, thinking the reapportionment left constituents wanting for the best representation, given population distribution, wide-ranging geography and the now fewer number of commissioners.
Others were concerned about the even number of commissioners who will now serve on the board, where an odd number would have eliminated the possibility of motions failing because of tie votes cast.
We think the public should pay close attention to the county board elections and understand who will now be representing whom.
Among some of the changes, commissioners Bill Nordeen and Nick Joseph will not seek new two-year terms on the panel. Nordeen lives in Forsyth Township and under the new redistricting plan, he would have faced fellow board members Deborah Pellow of Tilden Township and Charles Bergdahl of Skandia Township in the primary District 5 race. All three are Democrats.
Former county Commissioner Bob Struck of West Branch Township will run as a Republican in the November general election against the winner of the Pellow and Bergdahl primary. Forsyth, Skandia, Turin, Ewing, Wells, West Branch, Richmond and Tilden townships are represented in District 5.
Joseph of Ishpeming would have faced fellow Commissioner Gerald Corkin of Negaunee in a primary race for a District 4 seat, but he's decided to instead pursue family interests, while not ruling out a return bid for a seat on the panel in the future.
Corkin and Joseph are Democrats. Charles Anderson of Ishpeming is running as a Republican in the November general election in District 4, which includes the cities of Ishpeming and Negaunee.
Commissioner Bruce Heikkila will run against Daniel Rutz for a District 3 seat in the primary. Both candidates are Democrats. The winner will face Commissioner Michael Quayle in November, who is running as an independent. District 3 covers Precincts 1, 3, 4, and 5 in the city of Marquette and the south portion of Marquette Township.
There are no contested races in District 1, 2 or the newly-created District 6. Commissioner Steve Pence represents District 1; Commissioner Paul Arsenault, District 2 and Chocolay Township Supervisor Greg Seppanen is running for the District 6 vacancy. All three are Democrats.