If you're reading this before Tuesday's Primary Election, then good, you're ahead of the game.

If you're NOT reading this before Tuesday's Primary Election, then hopefully it got to you before you made it to the polls.

 

Kalamazoo, and many other area voting districts saw a shift in January, so there might be some unfamiliar names on the primary ballot this time around - not just from new opponents, but also current representation.

So what are we going to see on the ballots in Kalamazoo? Let's run down the list.

(More information on these candidates' positions and how they answered a questionnaire can be found on the Vote411 Voter Guide)

18th District State Senator

Thomas A. Albert vs. Ryan P. Mancinelli - Republican Primary

Mancinelli is a biomedical electronics tech and got his degree in Criminal Justice at Ferris State University. Albert has served as a State Representative for District 86 for the past six years, and served Kent and Iona Counties before redistricting this year. Hs is a former Marine Corps officer, and has a Master of Business Administration Degree from Michigan State University.

Mancinelli said a big reason for teacher shortages in Michigan are due to low pay, and that should be increased. He also mentioned school districts supplying funds to purchase "adequate supplies," rather than teachers buying them out of pocket.

Albert brought up an $580 million teacher recruitment and retention plan that he helped create and pass, and he helped equalize per-student foundation allowance with an increase in 2022.

When it comes to any policies to support an improvement on residents' economic position, Manicelli's answer was simple:

"Increase access to education opportunities for residents, and reduce taxes to incentivize businesses to come to Michigan."

Albert blamed record inflation as a hindrance on Michigan residents, and noted support for substantial tax relief in the state, but that was vetoed.

"Michigan residents cannot improve their economic positions if our state does not have a strong business environment and workforce. I have supported funding for skilled workforce training... I believe that's the best way for someone to improve their position is through a good paying job."

When it comes to Energy and Environmental topics, the two differ greatly. Albert believes the Green New Deal is irresponsible, and it's unrealistic to shift so suddenly to renewable energy. however, Manicelli believes a shift away from coal, toward nuclear, wind, hydro, and solar is the way to go to reduce dependency on oil and harmful environmental actions.

The winner of this race will move on to face the lone Democratic candidate Kai W. Degraaf in November's General Election.

41st District Representative

Ben Stanley vs. Terry Haines - Republican Primary

Haines has a BS from Central Michigan University, and 30 years worth of political involvement. Stanley says his education is the "Golden Rule," and his qualifications and Experience: "I am not a God, make a mean fresh squeezed lemonade, and have a kind, caring heart."

When it comes to potential changes to education in Michigan, Haines believes teachers are leaving because they are micromanaged, and can't teach to the level and needs of the students in their class. He also says Common Core should be taken away, and curriculum should be given back to the state and "localities."

Stanley, however, took a different approach, saying education has been used to "oppress" more than anything, and believes families should be given the choice to bring up their children the way they see fit. He also encouraged bringing older populations back into playing a vital role of passing on things they have learned in their lifetimes.

In terms of election policy, Haines believes voting machines should create two paper copies of every vote.

"Both copies should be inspected by the voter to make sure they both have correctly registered their vote. One copy goes home with the voter. One copy is kept at the voting polls and later permanently by local authorities."

Stanley offered his view of the current system.

"I think the government is too concerned with maintaining 'total-control,' it's reached a point that many people feel that the system is breaking down. We have to regain trust and respect... [right now] it's made to be intentionally overly complicated to cause your average citizen to be overwhelmed and give up."

The winner of this race will move on to face incumbent Democrat Julie Rogers, who is currently the 60th House District Representative.

42nd District Representative

Matt Hall vs. Gary Mitchell - Republican Primary

Hall is currently a State Representative with a degree in Administration from Western Michigan. He is a Juris Doctor for Advanced Constitutional Advocacy from WMU Cooley Law School.

In his time as State Representative, Hall authored a $2.5 billion tax cut to give relieve to Michigan families, workers and seniors. It would have lowered the income tax rate, and given bonus tax cuts to parents, seniors, veterans and working families. But that bill was vetoed. He also championed a new law that would keep GM in Michigan, and attract manufacturing plants back to the state.

In terms of Gun Control, Hall is a supporter of the Second Amendment.

"I cosponsored constitutional carry legislation. My common sense criminal justice reform legislation passed the House with bipartisan support to reduce the penalty from a felony to a civil infraction when an individual forgets to renew their CPL within the first year. The penalty should fit the crime."

Unfortunately, Mitchell didn't respond to the questionnaire, but you can see his stances on his campaign website.

The winner of this race will move on to face Democrat Justin Mendoza in the November General Election.

Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners - District One

Tami Rey vs. Michael Seals - Democratic Primary

No Republicans have filed to run for this seat, so the winner of this primary race is likely to win the seat in November's General Election.

Rey is currently serving as a Kalamazoo County Commissioner and has her Associate's Degree. Seals is the Assistant Director and Bookkeeper at Kalamazoo Eastside Neighborhood Association.

When asked specifically about the quality of life for the residents of the district, right out of the gate, both candidates have different approaches. Rey says she is proud of the work she has done in her first term as commissioner. She pointed to prioritizing the launch of the historic Kalamazoo City and County collaboration to reduce gun violence, she has prioritized affordable housing, and advocated for increased wage increases.

Seals, also pointed to gun issues in the district, saying there is a serious issue with teen gun violence that has a big effect on the community. He says he would pull together the Courts Prosecutors Juvenile home staff and work to find solutions. He also points to mental health as a priority in the community.

Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners - District Two

Brian Johnson vs. Jen Strebs - Democratic Party

No Republicans have filed to run for this seat, so the winner of this primary race is likely to win the seat in November's General Election.

Johnson is currently retired, but has served as a County Commissioner before. He also served as Staff for the Michigan House of Representatives. He attended the University of Michigan. Strebs is a Clinical Quality Specialist  at Southwest Michigan Behavioral Health. She graduated from Western Michigan with a bachelor's of Science in Psychology and Political Science.

Johnson says he would bring to the table, experience and institutional memory and provide a leadership that encourages harmony, and discourages division. He hopes to support adequate funding for human services, including environmental health and housing, and his practical experience would contribute to achieving his goals, while still being fiscally responsible.

Strebs says she is responsive in her current role to every community member, "both those who agree, and disagree with me," to keep lines of communication open and productive. She says she is focused on standing up for workers, supporting stable and affordable housing, improving public health, and combating the climate crisis.

Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners - District Six

Christopher Daniels vs. John Gisler - Republican Primary

John Gisler is the current County Commissioner, first elected in 2010, with extensive business experience in the pharmaceutical industry.

Gisler says in order to improve the quality of life for residents in his district, he would scrutinize ever expenditure of taxpayer dollars, and limit government intrusion into people's daily lives. He also touched on environmental concerns, saying Kalamazoo County has to deal with extensive flooding, and will continue to be a challenge to many neighborhoods. He says PFAs will continue to be an environmental issue for the county as well, and, "We need to be prepared to respond appropriately to protect our citizens."

Unfortunately Daniels did not respond to the questionnaire.

The winner of this primary will move on to face Democrat Anthony Bates in the November Regular Election.

Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners - District Eight

Brian Kovacik vs. Wendy Mazer - Republican Primary

Kovacik works as an Outside Sales Consultant and has spent time as a Texas Township resident that cared about his community.

He plans to improve budget practices that more appropriately reflect revenue and expenses, claiming taxpayers are overburdened and need relief. Like Gisler in District Six, Kovicik also has concerns with recent PFAs contamination in Parchment, and feels it is critical that, "we pay attention to the county brownfields. This is our most important tool the county has in addressing groundwater issues."

Unfortunately Wendy Mazer did not complete the questionnaire.

The winner of this primary will move on to face Democrat Stephanie Willoughby in November.

Other Regional elections for Tuesday's Primary:

8th District Court: Becket Jones, Thomas A Allen, & Lana Marie Escamilla

9th Circuit Court: Joseph Hohler III, Rebecca D'Angelo, Ken Barnard, Julie Jensen, Angelique Camfield, Josh Hilgart, & Rachel A Vinales.

Mattawan Consolidated School Millage Renewal: Asking for a rate of 19.42 mills for non-homestead properties (businesses, commerial properties, rentals, and vacation homes). The millage would never be levied at more than 18 mills.

Comstock Township Senior Millage Proposal: Asking for a senior millage proposal for an increase of up to 1 mill. If approved, it would provide money to support services to older adults at the Comstock Community Center.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2nd. Voters can visit Michigan.gov/vote to find a sample ballot and polling location.

Kalamazoo River Oil Spill of 2010

In 2010, the Kalamazoo River suffered one of the worst inland oil spills in U.S. History, dumping nearly 1 million gallons of "dilbit" into the river, and affecting nearly 35 miles of the river.