Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Sheriff Matonich outpaces challengers


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Incumbent Gogebic County Sheriff Pete Matonich outpaced two challengers for the post in Tuesday’s partisan primary.

Matonich received 2,162 votes to overcome Joseph Cayer with 384 votes, and David Kinnunen with 144 votes. There were no Republican candidates and Matonich will likely move forward unopposed on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.

“All in all with the COVID19 social distancing and safety precautions the primary went well,” said Gerry Pelissero, clerk of court and register of deeds for Gogebic County.

The turnout was up from the 2016 primary, he said. There were 3,947 voters who cast ballots in the 2020 partisan primary for local, state and federal offices of their political party preference and local ballot questions on Tuesday for a total of 28% of the eligible voters. The 2016 primary had 3,079 voters who cast ballots for a 22% of eligible voters.

There were around 2,100 absentee voters in this primary election, Pelissero said.

“So, more people voted (absentee) than did in-person voting,” Pelissero said.

To be counted in the primary, all absentee ballots must have been returned to the polls by 8 p.m. Tuesday. No ballots were counted if they arrived anytime after that time.

There were two contested seats for Gogebic County Commissioner.

Tom Laabs succeeded in his effort for re-election to the District 2 seat on the Gogebic County Board of Commissioners with 212 votes. That was enough to outpace his challenger Michael Wiemeri with 158 votes. There is no Republican candidate.

Incumbent District 4 Commissioner James Lorenson won his first primary challenge for the seat he was appointed to in February 2014 completing a term of Joann Balduc who resigned. Lorenson received 198 votes and challenger Cory Niemela received 140 votes. 

The remaining five commission seats were incumbent Democrats who ran unopposed, including: Dan Siirilla, District 1 with 476 votes; Jim Byrnes, District 3 with 255 votes; Joe Bonovetz, District 5 with 355 votes; Bob Orlich, District 6 with 298 votes, and Richard Peterson, District 7 with 180 votes.

Dan Woods received 1,947 votes as the Democratic candidate for county drain commissioner. Woods will run against Michael Foley, the Republican candidate for drain commissioner who received 779 votes in the primary.

County prosecuting attorney Nicholas Jacobs was unopposed on the Democrat ballot with 2,418 votes. There was no Republican candidate.

Ramona Collins, Democrat, received 2,433 votes for Gogebic County clerk and register of deeds. She is currently the deputy register of deeds to Pelissero, who did not seek re-election. There were no Republicans on the ballot.

Lisa Hewitt, Democrat, received 2,409 votes in her bid as incumbent county treasurer. There were no Republican candidates.

There were 179 unresolved write-in votes for the county mine inspector. The position has minimum requirements that must be met to qualify for the position and the job has been open for some time.

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