The August primary — who's in? who's out?

By Not Defined
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{mosimage}This year yielded some surprises as local disc jockey Tim Barron filed to run for Delphi Township supervisor under his legal name, Frederick T. Sparrow. State Rep. Joan Bauer, D-Lansing, has a primary against former state employee Steve Harry, who's interesting ideas include eliminating the state lottery, the state Senate, the state's Liquor Control Commission and the state's prevailing wage law.


Bob Alexander is back. After losing to U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, 61 to 37 percent in 2004, the familiar Democratic organizer is hoping to at least make an '08 run in the 8th Congressional district competitive.


At the county level, Republicans have watched what few offices they've held in recent years slip away. At this point, the GOP holds no countywide posts and only three seats on the 16-member Ingham County Board of Commissioners.


But Norm Shinkle, who chairs the GOP in Ingham County, said he's excited about this year's crop of candidates, in particular former assistant prosecutor Nick Bostic, who is running to unseat his former boss, 12-year Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III.


Dunnings took heat for prosecuting Claude McCallum, who was wrongfully convicted of murdering an LCC professor, which Republicans will be quick to point to. But Dunnings' office did make quick work of convicted serial murder Matthew Macon and did put the parents of slain 7-year-old Ricky Holland behind bars.


Bostic was the former chief assistant in Mecosta County, but it'll be interesting to see how Bostic is able to juggle a campaign and the effort it takes to get a new private practice up and running.


Former Lansing City Council President Harold Leeman isn't going to skate into a new post as the county commissioner in the 3rd District. Local attorney John Mertz is known for his work in cleaning up the city's pension scandal of the early '90s, but the active Eastsider had his law license yanked for 60 days and was forced to pay $8,500 in restitution after the state's Attorney Discipline Board found that he'd dropped the ball on a client.


Brian McGrain, 31, also is running with Leeman and Mertz in the Democratic primary. McGrain, the associate director and chief operating officer of a community development non-profit in Lansing, is a member of the Lansing Board of Zoning Appeals and is president of a young professionals' networking group.


Democratic County Commissioner Tim Soule will not seek re-election in the rural 16th District. The nail in the coffin came when deputies busted him for drinking alcohol, a violation of his probation. Soule was stopped last year for drunk driving with a minor in the car.


Instead the Democrats are putting up Ingham County Road Commissioner Joe Guenther of Mason, a top-flight candidate who once served on the county's economic development commission. He'll likely face former office holder Don Vickers, who stepped down in '06 to face now-state Rep. Barb Byrum.


In the 10th county commission district, Mark Grebner looks to be facing his first opponent in 12 years with Republican Brad Dennis, a James Madison College student at Michigan State University, having filed against him. Dennis is a Fenton High School graduate who wrote in his press release that Grebner, a political list maker, had “fallen out of touch with the people.”


Grebner has held this primarily university seat for 26 years, but he hasn't faced an opponent of any sort since 1996. The last candidate to file against Grebner was forced off the ballot when it was discovered the opponent didn't actually live in the 10th district.


With County Commissioner Curtis Hertel running for Ingham County register of deeds, former East Lansing City Councilwoman Bev Baten is looking to succeed him, as is Lansing ACLU President Carol Koenig, in what could be a competitive Democratic primary.


Meanwhile, the material that former state official Gary Marx can use against Ingham County Drain Commissioner Pat Lindemann in the Democratic primary is starting to pile up.


A week after officials in Delhi Township took the drain commissioner to task for diverting fertilizer-rich storm water into a formerly crystal clear 40-acre gravel pit near Holt, Lansing Township officials banged on Lindemann over the cost of his plan to stop water backup at Bancroft Park and the Groesbeck Golf Course.


The Republican candidate is Mason farmer Jeff Oesterle, who's participated in the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission and the Ingham County Farm Bureau, among other local boards and committees.


Over in Delta Township, Democrat Ken Fletcher, the Michigan Nurses Association's lobbyist, is taking on 28-year Republican supervisor Joe Drolett.


In the courts, Ingham County Circuit Court judges William Collette and Janelle Lawless are running for re-election, as is embattled Judge Beverley Nettles-Nickerson, who may be kicked off the bench permanently by the Michigan Supreme Court before the election anyway.


Also running for one of three spots on the bench are District Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, longtime Lansing School Board President Hugh Clarke and local attorney Frank Reynolds, who may be known around the capital area as the lawyer asked to present evidence against two former members of the Board of State Canvassers in 2006 for refusing to put the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative — the successful anti-affirmative action proposal — on the ballot.


Ingham County Judge Paula Manderfield is taking a shot at a spot on the State Court of Appeals. She's running in a four-person race that also includes local Republican attorney Eric Doster, former state Rep. Jim Howell of St. Charles, and Flint attorney Michael J. Kelly.


And Lansing assistant city attorney Billie Jo O'Berry is giving the bench another crack, this time challenging incumbent District Court Judge Tom Boyd.


(Kyle Melinn is the editor at the MIRS newsletter. His column runs weekly. E-mail melinn@lansingcitypulse.com.)