GAYLORD — Voters in Otsego County will be selecting a new state senator and the incumbent for the state house district that includes the county will face three primary challengers in August.
April 19 was the deadline for candidates to file for state offices. In the newly drawn 105th state house district, incumbent Republican Ken Borton of Gaylord will square off against fellow GOPers Mark McFarlin of Grayling, Kim Morley of Roscommon and Diane Randall of Houghton Lake Heights.
The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission eliminated Antrim and Charlevoix counties from the district that Borton won in 2020. The commission added counties to the south like Crawford and Roscommon.
“(Borton) will have to introduce himself to a bunch of voters he didn’t have contact with in 2020,” said Scott LaDeur, political science professor at North Central Michigan College in Petoskey.
LaDeur noted that two of the challengers — Morley and Randall — have been office holders. Randall is a supervisor in Roscommon Township while Morley served on the Roscommon school board. Morley is a small business owner who is also the chairman of the Munson Grayling Hospital Board of Trustees.
“There are two legitimate opponents who come from an area that wasn’t in Ken Borton’s district two years ago,” LaDeur said. “That could be interesting as there are now voters who voted for Morley and Randall before and not Borton.”
McFarlin ran for governor in 2014 on the U.S. Taxpayer ticket and earned nearly 20,000 votes. He lived in Bay County at that time and apparently has since moved to Grayling. A news report in 2015 described him as a licensed private investigator who was born in Bay City.
The three challengers combined with the new district boundaries will make this an interesting race to watch in August, said LaDeur.
“(Borton) is an incumbent and that comes with some advantages such as more media exposure and he has experience running a state house race including a primary,” he said.
Adam Wojdan of Frederic will be the Democratic Party nominee for the 105th district.
Meanwhile the redistricting commission placed Otsego County in a new 36th state senate configuration which runs from Rogers City, Alpena and Tawas along Lake Huron and then cuts across Northern Michigan to include Gaylord, Grayling, Mio and West Branch and then on to Cadillac.
Michele Hoitenga of Manton, who currently represents the 102nd state house district, will be the Republican candidate while Joel Sheltrown, a former state lawmaker from Gladwin, will be the Democratic Party nominee.
LaDeur said Hoitenga is term limited and Sheltrown represented an old state house district which he won three times from 2004-2008.
“(Sheltrown) is kind of a centrist Democrat. He has a history but (the political climate) is totally different from when he last ran in 2008,” said LaDeur.
Hoitenga and Sheltrown are relatively unknown in the Lake Huron communities.
“That’s an area where neither candidate has a (history) with the voters,” LaDeur added.
LaDeur said the district leans heavily Republican and “Hoitenga is the favorite heading into November (while) Sheltrown has an uphill battle,” he said.
Jim Stamas, a Republican from Midland who is also chairman of the appropriations committee, currently holds the seat.
There will be some changes on the Otsego County Board of Commissioners following this election cycle.
Incumbents Julie Powers of District 1 and Ken Glasser of District VI, who is also the current board chairman, declined to seek re-election. Both are Republicans.
All who filed for county board seats were in the GOP. In District 1, James Michael Flint will face Terra Deming. Incumbent Henry Mason in District II is running unopposed.
In District III, Jonathan Turnbull is challenging incumbent Paul Liss. In District IV, William Blaker will run against incumbent Brent McVannel. In District V, incumbent Robert Pallorito will face a challenge from Jason Clement.
Competing for Glasser’s District VI seat will be Denise Bach, Trevor Burroughs and Christi Sortor. Incumbent Douglas Johnson in District VII will again be challenged by Wayne Monusko.
Dana Wingo is running against incumbent Jason Caverson in District VIII while incumbent Bruce Brown in District IX will be challenged by Kyle Yohe.
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