Voters choose Johnson, Hess as council members

Amber Hess

ALPENA — There will be only a slight change on Alpena Municipal Council following Tuesday’s election results.

Incumbent Cindy Johnson was re-elected for another term and write-in candidate Amber Hess edged Rick Rafferty, who also ran as a write-in. Hess will replace Councilman Shawn Sexton who announced earlier this year he was not going to seek re-election.

Johnson, who won her first term as a write-in, received 1,323 votes and was followed by Hess with 660. Rafferty received 460, Thomas VanDuinen 189 and Cal Howard 53.

Johnson said she is humbled by the support she has received and pledged to continue to work hard to move Alpena forward and be the voice of her constituents.

“I’m excited and I’m thankful that the voters have the confidence to re-elect me,” Johnson said. “This is a fantastic feeling and I’m going to continue to work hard because it is rewarding.”

Hess said she worked hard to get the word out and had a lot of support from her friends, family and those who helped during her campaign. She said now that she knows she will be on council, she is eager to work with the other members.

Hess said she is also honored to be only the fifth women to serve on council going back to 1871.

“I’m excited to represent our community and thankful for all of the support I received,” Hess said. “I want to work to continue to move Alpena in a positive direction.”

The vote totals from Tuesday night are only preliminary and will need to be approved by the Alpena County Board of Canvassers. The board also will make judgment calls on write-in votes that are spelled wrong and whether they are to be counted or not. With Hess’ margin of victory it is unlikely to affect the election’s outcome.

The new four-year terms will begin when Johnson and Hess are sworn into office after Jan. 1. The next election for council will be in 2019 when two council seats expire, as well as Mayor Matt Waligora’s term.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.