Voters in Muskegon and Muskegon Heights threw their support behind both incumbents and political newcomers during the Nov. 5 general election, which drew a little more than 15 percent of Muskegon County’s registered voters to the polls on Tuesday.
A number of the races were incredibly tight, with some candidates claiming victory with just a handful more votes than their opponents.
In Muskegon’s second ward, for example, incumbent Councilman Willie German Jr. won his bid for reelection with 272 votes–12 more than his challenger, Jeannette Burt-Moore, who received 260 votes, according to unofficial election results from the county. The second ward includes the western portion of the Jackson Hill neighborhood, most of the Nelson neighborhood, downtown Muskegon, and the northern part of the McLaughlin neighborhood.
City of Muskegon Vice Mayor Eric Hood won his race to represent the city’s first ward again, landing 478 votes. His opponent, Jennifer Ross, received 237 votes, according to unofficial election results. The first ward covers all of the Marquette, Oakview, Sheldon Park, and Steele neighborhoods, as well as the eastern portion of the Jackson Hill neighborhood and the northern part of the Angell neighborhood.
In the third ward, unofficial election results reported that commission newcomer Michael Ramsey won with 291 votes, compared to the 224 ballots cast for Larry Spataro, who sat on the commission from 2000 to 2015. The third ward includes the East Muskegon, Marsh Field and Nims neighborhoods. Commissioner Debra Warren represents the area; she did not seek reelection.
After defeating the fourth ward’s current commissioner, Byron Turnquist, in an August primary, Teresa Emory claimed victory in an incredibly amenable race dominated by candidates who saw eye-to-eye with one another far more than they disagreed. Emory received 707 votes; John “Jack” Page secured 555 votes, according to the unofficial results. The city’s fourth ward includes the western portion of the city of Muskegon, including all of the Beachwood-Bluffton, Lakeside and Campbell Field neighborhoods, as well as parts of the Glenside and Marsh Field neighborhoods.
In Muskegon Heights, mayoral candidate and current City Councilman Walter Watt defeated current Mayor Kim Sims and challenger Freddie Hamel in the race for mayor. Unofficial election results show Watt landed 565 votes, or 49.82 percent of the vote. Sims received 503 votes; Hamel garnered eight votes. Watt was the only mayoral candidate on the ballot; Sims and Hamel ran as write-in candidates.
In Muskegon Heights, City Council members Kellie Kitchen and Marshall Cook won their bids for reelection. Newcomer Derrick Collins landed the third open spot on the Council. The two defeated candidates in the Council race are Ulis Ellis Jr. and Dari Hines. Cook received the greatest number of votes, securing 642 ballots; Kitchen landed 631 votes; and Collins had 530 people vote for him, according to unofficial results. Ellis received 454 votes, while Hines got 496 votes.
In the city of Muskegon’s neighbor North Muskegon, voters ushered in a new mayor, Sabina Freeman, who defeated incumbent Mayor Christopher Witham. North Muskegon voters too reelected incumbent City Council members Toni Seyferth and Bill Mogren.
And in Norton Shores, Ward I City Council incumbents M. Kay Beechman and Jason Flanders claimed victory in their reelection bids, defeating challenger Rachel Cereska.
Current Council members Cindy Jurkas and Dan Olson won reelection in Norton Shores’ second ward, defeating challenger Jamie Sowa. Olson and Sowa ran as write-in candidates.