Chairman’s Corner by Scott McGraw

It’s been a busy season at your Kalamazoo GOP. Of course, it seems like I say that all the time. This month, we wrapped up our candidate recruitment cycle and also participated in the MiGOP’s state convention. I am proud of the team we have assembled at the county level and I feel we have a real opportunity this fall to take back several seats for the Republican Party.

In the county, there are some key candidates for state representative seats. Brandt Iden in the 61st District and David Maturen in the 63rd District are running for re-election and are unopposed in the primary. With Aric Nesbitt being term-limited out, the 66th district has several people vying for state rep. Kalamazoo’s own Greg Kolich declared more than a year ago and was joined by Van Buren County Commissioner Beth Griffin and Hartford resident Mathew Nilson. That race should be a good warm-up for the November general election which has a pair of Democrats facing off, too. In the 60th District, we have a young man from Kalamazoo College who will challenge in that Democratic stronghold seat. Alexander Ross has made some waves on campus for his stance on 2nd Amendment rights and I am looking forward to the campaign he will direct for that state representative seat.

Kalamazoo’s countywide elections include incumbents Tim Snow and Mary Balkema, running for Clerk-Register and Treasurer, respectively. They are joined by Don Smith for prosecutor and Jeff Heppler for sheriff. Don Smith is an impressive young lawyer and partner at Willis Law, who has a tremendous passion for the law and will make a great prosecutor. Jeff Heppler is our current vice chair on the county commission and a long-time police chief who has the experience and leadership abilities to take this county’s head law enforcement job and improve safety for all of our citizens. We also have Republican incumbent Gary Hahn for the surveyor’s position. We fell short in not finding a candidate for drain commissioner.

I am very proud that we have filled 10 of 11 county commission positions with an outstanding slate of individuals. In the 1st District, we have Jessica Salvano; in the 2nd District, there is local businessman Casey Fawley; in the 3rd District, we have Charley Coss; in the 5th District, there is Chad Dillon, the KGOP treasurer; in the 6th District, we have a trio of Republicans vying for Heppler’s vacant seat with Vince Carahaly, Frank Brooks and Ron Kendall; in the 7th District, there is incumbent Roger Tuinier; in the 8th District, we have incumbent John Gisler, who is unopposed in the general; in the 9th District, incumbent Dale Shugars will face off against Brian Kovacik; in the 10th District, we have insurance executive Jerry Whitaker; and in the 11th District, there is yours truly and incumbent Scott McGraw.

That’s a great slate of county commissioners! This is an important race for the Kalamazoo County Commission. In the last election, the Republicans lost control by losing one seat and it is imperative that we win control back. I feel with this slate and by working together as candidates, Kalamazoo Republicans can have a great victory in November.

We have many great candidates also running in the townships. I want to point out two of our townships here: Texas and Oshtemo. With several trustees entering races for the office holders in Texas, we were able to find several people to step up and run for trustee. I am proud to announce we have a full slate there. We weren’t so lucky in Oshtemo. We have a supervisor candidate in John Nieuwenhuis and a trustee in Themi Corakis. We need a few candidates to step forward to fill out the ballot there – a treasurer, a clerk and three trustees. If you live in Oshtemo and have ever thought of serving your community, please give me a call so we can bring Republican leadership to Oshtemo Township.