Macomb County voters went to the polls Tuesday to choose primary winners for offices including county prosecutor, with that seat open for the first time in 16 years.
In very early returns, former Waterford District judge Jodi Switalski was leading a five-person field of Democrats with 30.6% of the vote, followed by former Macomb County Circuit judge Mary Chrzanowski with 26.8%, attorney Saima Khalil with 24.7%, former county commissioner Tom Rombach with 10.9% and attorney Eva Tkacyzk with 7%.
On the Republican side, state Sen. Peter Lucido was leading Richard John Goodman, 69.7% to 30.3&%.
The winners of the primary races will face off in November to replace former Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith, a Democrat who resigned March 30 after being charged with misusing $600,000 in forfeiture funds seized in drug and drunken driving cases between 2012 and 2018.
Goodman, 64, of Romeo, spent 30 years in the county prosecutor’s office, including heading the juvenile court division for five years. Goodman stressed he was “not a career politician.”
“I am running on my reputation, not on a recognized political name,” he said. “I have no personal agenda.
“I will pursue justice rigorously and dedicate myself to promoting excellence in the office. I will make the office a place where the assistant prosecutors are well-trained and Macomb County citizens can feel confident in their prosecutor and the assistants.”
Lucido, 59, who served in the state House from 2015-18 before being elected to the Senate, emphasized the importance of ensuring public faith when he announced his candidacy in April.
“I’ve been a lawyer, a criminal defender and employed 50 people working in my (law) firm,” Lucido said. “The prosecutor’s office presents some big challenges right now, and I want to help restore trust in the office.”
But Lucido faced controversy early this year when a reporter, a fellow lawmaker and a former lobbyist, all women, accused him of sexually harassing them.
A Michigan Senate investigation found his conduct to be “inappropriate workplace behavior” and led to his removal as chairman of the Advice and Consent Committee. Investigators concluded that none of the complaints could be “unequivocally substantiated,” according to a memo from the Senate Business Office but found the accusers to be “credible.
Chrzanowski, who was a judge in Macomb County Circuit Court for 24 years — where she earned the nickname “Scary Mary” for her tough sentencing — touted her long service on the bench as the reason voters should back her.
Chrzanowski, 58, of Harrison Township, said she would bring “accountability and transparency” to the prosecutor’s office, as well as innovation.
Rombach, 62, emphasized his experience, too, saying he has spent more than three decades arguing cases in court. Besides being a county commissioner, he served on the Macomb County Charter Commission and as city prosecutor for Hazel Park.
Khalil, 40, of Sterling Heights, said her experience as a litigator made her “the only candidate that is right for this job.”
“I am a litigation attorney,” she said. “I have served the most vulnerable communities in Macomb County. “I take the cases that no one wants because they are complex, and the client often suffers from every issue imaginable.”
Switalski, 49, of Harrison Township, says her work as a judge and prosecutor makes her the best person to take over as Macomb County’s chief prosecutor. She was appointed judge in Oakland County’s 51st District Court in 2010 and won reelection in 2012. Before that, she was a Macomb County assistant prosecutor from 2004 to 2009.
“I’m the right person for the job because I’ve done the job,” Switalski said. “I’ve prosecuted criminals and put them in jail … I’m ready to move up to chief prosecutor and do even more to safeguard the citizens of Macomb County.”
Tkaczyk, 46, a defense attorney from Chesterfield Township, said on her campaign website that she would focus on improving the technology, organization and human resources in the prosecutor’s office if elected. “The improvement of these three components will help pursue and punish offenders and to protect communities in Macomb County,” she wrote. “Safe communities in Macomb County is my goal.”
Voters also were deciding primary races for these offices:
►Two Republicans, Terence Mekoski and Michael Wrathell, hoped to be picked to run against Sheriff Anthony Wickersham, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary.
►Four Republicans competed for the right to run against Democratic county Clerk Fred Miller, who was unopposed in his party’s primary: former state Rep. Anthony Forlini; Daniel Joseph Russell; Jackie Ryan, who was deputy clerk under former county Clerk Karen Spranger; and Julie A. Williams, a former employee in the county clerk and purchasing offices.
►Treasurer Larry Rocca, a Republican, faced a challenge for his party’s nomination from Sherri Murphy, a former deputy county treasurer, and Erin Stahl, a former St. Clair Shores councilwoman and former county deputy register of deeds. Warren city treasurer Lorie Barnwell was unopposed on the Democratic ballot.
►Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller, a Republican, and Democratic challenger Toni Moceri, a former county commissioner, were unopposed for their parties’ nominations.
In other races in Macomb County:
►Former Macomb Township supervisor Mark Grabow, seeking a return to his old job, faced off against Frank Viviano in the Republican primary for supervisor. Since no Democrat filed to run, the winner is assured of taking over the top job in the township, which has been roiled by the corruption convictions of two former trustees and a whistleblower suit filed this spring against retiring supervisor Janet Dunn.
►Washington Township supervisor Dan O’Leary faced a Republican primary challenge from Sebastian Sam Previti. O’Leary has stirred controversy with his demands for the township to have a greater say in a joint parks district that includes Romeo and Bruce Township and his blunt criticism of opponents.
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