Lenawee County voters will see a pair of familiar names on their Nov. 2 ballot as they choose a new state representative for the 57th District.
County Commissioner David Abraham (R., Tecumseh) is vying for the seat that will be vacated by three-term incumbent Doug Spade (D., Adrian) against Dudley Spade (D., Tipton), Doug Spade's brother.
Doug Spade, who has to leave office because of term limits, was the first Democrat from Lenawee County since 1914 to hold the seat.
Dudley Spade, 48, views the relationship as an advantage he has been trying to exploit as the two brothers having been campaigning together.
"Well, certainly Doug's professionalism and track record [are] a big plus for me. We both have the same beliefs," Dudley Spade said.
Mr. Abraham, 43, a commissioner since 2000, believes voters are savvy enough to tell the difference between the two.
"Most people realize that Dudley is not Doug. He has to stand on his own two feet," he said.
Mr. Abraham, a real estate broker and appraiser, touts himself as the No. 1 conservative voice on the county commission, where he supported a new county jail without an increase in taxes, the airport expansion, and the installation of a weather radio system.
"My motto has always been 'Get the job done,' " he said.
But Dudley Spade, who calls himself a conservative Democrat, said Mr. Abraham and the Republican-controlled commission repeatedly clashed with Sheriff Larry Richardson, a Democrat, over the jail project and other issues.
"People have viewed that as divisive," Mr. Spade said. "My approach is as an independent voice in Lenawee county that brings both sides together."
Both candidates view the loss of jobs in the county - and the state as a whole - as a critical issue that needs to be addressed.
Mr. Abraham said his years as a small businessman would serve him well in that regard in Lansing.
"You need someone who has been in business, who has laid awake at night worrying about making payroll the next day," he said.
Mr. Spade, an information systems director for Starr Commonwealth of Albion, Mich., a nonprofit agency that aids troubled youths, said his 34 years as a comptroller in agencies cited for their efficiency is a plus for his candidacy.
"I have the right experience and [a] proven track record," he said.
In the first of their three debates, the candidates sparred over revenue sharing, a key issue in the Abraham campaign.
Mr. Abraham contends that the county's payment of taxes to Lansing is not being fairly reciprocated, and that the county lags near the bottom - along with other rural counties - in state funding.
He said he will fight for an equal revenue sharing plan if he wins the election.
But Mr. Spade said Mr. Abraham is basing his argument on revenue sharing coming from income tax rather than sales tax monies, and that is a different story.
"He's wrong on that; he's spinning figures," Mr. Spade said. "Does he not understand how it works, or is he misleading voters? Lenawee County is right where it should be."
The candidates' next debate is scheduled for Oct. 21 in Adrian.
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