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Published: Thursday, 7/29/2004

Veterans opt out in Monroe-area voting

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

MONROE - Several long-serving Monroe County officials have opted to not run for re-election this year, opening the door to several candidates who will face their first electoral test in Tuesday's Michigan partisan primary.

County Treasurer Norm Blanchett, who has been in office nearly 30 years; Drain Commissioner Rollin Webb, who has held the office more than a dozen years, and Board of County Commissioners Chairman V. Lehr Roe, who has been a member of the county board most of the last 14 years, are stepping down.

Prosecutor Mike Weipert is moving to the Circuit Court bench seat being vacated by retiring Judge William LaVoy.

Here are the contested primary races on the Monroe County ballot:

Prosecutor

The race for the Democratic nomination for county prosecutor has become hotly contested. William Paul Nichols, 43, of Temperance, chief assistant prosecutor for the last four years, is opposing Monroe residents Jeff Dulany, 54, a local civil and criminal attorney, and Joseph Yanoschik, 51, a former assistant county prosecutor who has worked the last seven years in the Michigan attorney general's office.

The winner of the three-way race will challenge Republican John Luchansky, Jr., for the right to succeed Mr. Weipert.

Drain commissioner

Three Democrats and one Republican are vying to replace

Mr. Webb.

Voters will make their choice from among three men seeking the Democratic nomination for drain commissioner.

Jim Vaslo, 42, of Newport, the current Berlin Township supervisor; Dan Stefanski, 55, of Monroe, manager of Monroe's wastewater treatment plant, and Lewis Roe, Sr., 61, of Petersburg, are seeking the right to face off in November against Republican Jan Jay, of Carleton.

Another Democrat, Juan Melendez, of Erie, will appear on the ballot, but has indicated that he is no longer running for the office.

Treasurer

It has been nearly three decades since the Monroe County treasurer was someone other than Mr. Blanchett, but that will happen next year.

His longtime assistant, Kay Sisung, 44, of Maybee, faces a challenge from A. Joseph Keane, 55, of Temperance.

Ms. Sisung has been deputy treasurer 21 years, while Mr. Keane is the county's deputy equalization director and has been employed by the county 29 years. The two Democrats don't have a Republican or independent challenger for the post in November.

Board of County

Commissioners

Voters in three of the nine Monroe County Board of Commissioner districts must choose who will represent them on the nine-member legislative body that guides county government.

A lack of a Republican candidate in District 5, which represents the western portion of Monroe, will add greater significance to the Democratic primary race between incumbent Commissioner William Sisk, 53, and his challenger, Edward Widner, 46.

Mr. Sisk, a retired parole officer with the state, was widely expected to seek Mr. Blanchett's seat this year, but instead filed for another term on the board before the county treasurer changed his mind about seeking re-election.

Two other commissioner districts have primary races next month, one on each side of the partisan ballot.

In District 7, which covers LaSalle, Luna Pier, and parts of Erie and Monroe Charter townships, three Democrats are vying for the right to challenge incumbent Republican N. Randy Ansel.

Paul Iacoangeli, 48, of Monroe - who defeated Mr. Ansel four years ago but lost to Mr. Ansel two years later for the same seat - would like to set up a rubber match in their personal best-of-three electoral contest. But to do that, the Monroe city firefighter must first face challenges from fellow Democrats Leo Heroux, 39, of Ida, and Wayne Meehean, 58, of LaSalle, to make it to the November ballot.

On the opposite end of the county, two Republicans are battling to carry the GOP banner for the District 1 commissioner race against Democrat Sharon Jaworski of Dundee this fall.

Henry Lievens, 29, of Petersburg, and David Vaughan, 49, of Dundee, are trying to replace Mr. Roe.

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at:

lvellequette@theblade.com

or 419-724-6091.



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