News and Opinion

Three Dems vie for Meridian Twp. clerk post with incumbent sidelined 


With the incumbent out of the race, three candidates are running for the Democratic nomination for Meridian Township clerk in the Aug. 6 primary election. 

Republican Patty McPhee is running unopposed in the Republican primary, but given the township’s swing to blue in the last 10 years, the Democratic outcome is likely to determine the next clerk. 

Angela Demas, Mike McCurdy and Emily Stivers are the three Democrats vying to be on the General Election ballot Nov. 5. 

The field shrank by one in mid-April when Deborah Guthrie, who was elected clerk in 2020, formally withdrew a write-in bid for reelection to a third term.  

Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum disqualified Guthrie in early April, saying she had not paid $175 in a required fee and submitted an affidavit that said she had paid. Guthrie said she had misinterpreted a portion of the affidavit, according to WLNS Channel 6 News. 

Guthrie’s post-election plans are up in the air, and she’s OK with that, she told City Pulse. 

“There could be a mass exodus of clerks,” Guthrie said, “and there could be a mass exodus of boomers retiring from corporations and government.”  

Guthrie, who is serving her first term after defeating incumbent Brent Dreyfus in the 2020 Democratic primary, is mulling those possibilities as she sharpens her resume and crafts a cover letter. 

“I believe and know there is life out there after being at Meridian for almost 30 years,” she said, chuckling when she recalled telling township interviewers in 1998 she planned to stay five years. Guthrie served as communications director before she was elected clerk. 

Guthrie’s would-be successors draw on experience gained both close to home and far away. 

Republican McPhee is running unopposed. 

McPhee, a self-described fiscal conservative, said her decision to run for clerk came not long before the filing deadline. 

“I decided to run after watching the chaos at Meridian with current clerk Guthrie and (former manager) Frank Walsh,” McPhee said. Walsh recently resigned as township manager with a short-term agreement to consult.  

“Something needs to change in this township of 100% Democratic voices. I was asked to step up, and I said yes.” 

The township has had two formidable Republican clerks in recent memory: Virginia White (1972-97) and Mary Helmbrecht (2000-12). Dreyfus won the post in 2012. The Clerk’s Office has been in Democratic hands ever since. 

McCurdy, 49, comes from a nonprofit background that has taken him from remote settlements in South America to the woods of northern California to East Lansing. 

 The longtime township resident said he is proudest of his work as an activist and an organizer, especially as part of the Michigan Peace Team between 2000 and 2003. 

 McCurdy has honed his management and organizational aptitude over a lifetime but especially during 17 years as the facilities director of the Spartan Housing Cooperative. He was able to draw upon skills gained running his own construction firm, including the hiring and management of laborers and subcontractors. 

“I learned to manage people, budgets and bureaucracy effectively and efficiently,” McCurdy said.  

“The skills of managing people and mapping out projects to ensure adherence to strict deadlines are skills I plan to draw on heavily as clerk in Meridian Township.” 

Interests in environmental issues and human rights proved to be a natural pathway for McCurdy to become involved in grassroots politics. He co-founded the Progressive Caucus of Mid-Michigan and has been an elected member of the executive committee of the Progressive Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party since 2018. 

“The democratic process is precious to me,” McCurdy said, “and as clerk I will never fail in my duty to run free and fair elections.” 

Stivers, 42, was elected Ingham County commissioner from Haslett in 2018 for one term and ran unsuccessfully for state representative in 2022. She served on the township’s Zoning Appeals Board of Appeals and the Planning Commission for a total of six years. 

Stivers, 42, said she has a “lifelong dedication” to free and fair elections and a background that includes managing both small businesses and large offices and running outreach campaigns at multiple levels. 

She holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from MSU's James Madison College in 2003. She trains MSU medical students in social issues. 

“I care deeply about election integrity and the issues facing the Clerk’s office,” she said. 

Stivers said she can spur already high young voter turnout by expanding the township’s communications network to include awareness-raising campaigns on sites like and Instagram “and continue to simplify the language around, and process for, how we vote.” 

 She is especially concerned with making sure MSU students who live in Meridian Township know where to vote. 

 “In 2022, too many did not realize they vote here, not on campus. The numbers turned away at the East Lansing polls, who did not subsequently bother to figure out where they should go, are disturbing,” she said. 

Demas, 21, is a  2020 Okemos High School graduate who earned a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in 2023 and is an elections assistant in the Delhi Township Clerk’s Office. 

 Her leadership experience includes serving as a representative for the Associated Students of Michigan State University on behalf of the Alliance of Queer and Allied Students and as the Professional Chairwoman for Delta Phi Epsilon Professional Foreign Service Sorority, MU Chapter. 

She has been part of voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts during the last three elections, and has worked in communications, in the field and on research for many Michigan leaders, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, former Sen. Curtis Hertel and Reps. Julie Brixie and Kara Hope 

Demas recalls two points in her life that inspired her in public service. The first came as a a high-school freshman after Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election. 

 I brought a sign to school protesting his agenda and was bullied by some older students,” she said. “But several of my classmates told me my sign made them feel less alone.” 

The second came in 2023 in the wake of the shooting that left three MSU students dead. Demas had been near Berkey Hall that night, and a friend was injured in the shooting. 

 The uncertainty of life pushed up Demas’ timetable. 

“I had thought about running for office someday,” she said. “But I think my generation has something to contribute right now.” 


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