ALPENA - An Alpena County commissioner defeated by a close vote plans to petition for a recount, while another incumbent survived a challenge by a wider margin.
District 5 challenger Scot McKenzie finished ahead of Gerald Fournier by 13 votes, 758-745. While McKenzie is pleased, Fournier plans on filing a recount petition as soon as he can.
"If there was only 13 votes after seven years, it'd be the logical thing to do, wouldn't it," Fournier said.
McKenzie, a Democrat, said he was "very flattered and humbled" by the win, adding he's unconcerned by the prospects of a recount.
"If that happens, it happens," he said
Commissioner Jeff Kowalski will stay in office in District 1 after voters picked him over Jorden Susewitz. The Republican challenger was unable to unseat the Democrat, who won with 907-857 margin. In District 2, Robert Adrian defeated James Kierst.
"I was very thankful for voters in district one to re-elect me," Kowalski said.
For his second term, Kowalski will continue working on the county's major projects, including efforts to bring a drone research project to the Alpena County Regional Airport, he said.
Kowalski and other commissioners must work to continue good negotiations with county employees, he said.
"With the change-over with some of the commissioners, we're going to have to work extra hard to continue good negotiations with unions and county personnel," he said.
While Susewitz was disappointed to fall short of victory, he and his family appreciated the support and he congratulated his opponent. He'll keep working to bring the snowcross snowmobile race to the Alpena County Fairgrounds, and to ensure there will be a snowmobile trail to get there.
"We worked hard to have a victory, and thought Alpena would choose a new direction, but they chose not to choose a new direction," he said. "That's something we're going to have to live with for another two years."
Fournier, a Republican, is disappointed in how the vote went. He said he would have liked to continue working on big county projects, and believed his efforts for them merited re-election. But it's not over yet, and he's waiting until after the recount to plan his next move.
"Until then, everything's on hold," he said.
If and when McKenzie starts as commissioner, he'd like to join the finance, personnel, and parks and recreation committees, he said. His numbers skills could be put to use by helping the county plan balanced budgets, and he believes he has good people skills.
"I certainly can be a good boss, too," he said. "I've done a lot of hiring and firing in my lifetime."
Candidates must file recall petitions within six days after the county Board of Canvassers certify the election results, County Clerk Bonnie Friedrichs said. The board began the process at 1 p.m. Wednesday and was expected to finish by Friday. Candidates must pay a $10 fee for each precinct to recount, plus $10 for absentee ballots.
Sorting these ballots by hand and tallying the votes could take some time, Friedrichs said. She and the Board of Canvassers would go over each ballot by hand.
While the process could be lengthy, it would be shorter than a 2004 county-wide recount when Don Bartosh and Don Wood ran for county drain commissioner, Friedrichs said.
"That took days," she said. "We learned a lot from that one, though."
Jordan Travis can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5688.