2018-11-08 / Front Page

Dems pick up a seat

Rentenbach back as commissioner
by Eric Carlson
of the Enterprise staff

CAROLYN “PEACHY” Rentenbach, left, is congratulated by fellow Democrats during a gathering and cable TV viewing party at the VI Grill in Suttons Bay Tuesday night. Also pictured are party chair Gwenne Allgaier, District No. 5 Commissioner Patricia Soutas-Little and District No. 4 Commissioner Ty Wessell. CAROLYN “PEACHY” Rentenbach, left, is congratulated by fellow Democrats during a gathering and cable TV viewing party at the VI Grill in Suttons Bay Tuesday night. Also pictured are party chair Gwenne Allgaier, District No. 5 Commissioner Patricia Soutas-Little and District No. 4 Commissioner Ty Wessell. Republicans will retain the majority on the seven-member Leelanau County Board of Commissioners following this week’s election although Democrats regained a third seat.

Democrat Carolyn “Peachy” Rentenbach, a former chairman of the County Board, won back her seat as the District No. 6 Commissioner from first-term Republican Casey Noonan. The district includes Empire, Glen Arbor and Cleveland townships.

Rentenbach won with 1,130 votes compared to Noonan’s 1,059.

“Given the national acrimony and divisiveness, I was grateful for the civility in the county races,” Rentenbach said. “I am looking forward to work- ing again with all of our commissioners to assure a positive future for Leelanau County,” she said.

Noonan, a farmer by trade, acknowledged Wednesday morning that he was “disappointed” in how the election turned out, but “pleased” that voter turnout was so high. As a young father, Noonan said, he plans to spend more time with his family in the coming years but hasn’t ruled out running for office again sometime in the future.

District No. 5 Commissioner Patricia Soutas-Little, a Democrat, retained her seat on the county board despite another challenge from Republican Dale Schaub. Two years ago, the race between the two was so close that a recount was required.

This year, however, Soutas-Little won with 1,048 votes to Schaub’s 885.

“I’d like to express my heart-felt thanks to the residents of Leland and Centerville townships for their vote of confidence,” Soutas-Little said.


VOTERS LEFT their umbrellas at the entrance of Leland Public School. Drenching rain, as much as an inch in some places Tuesday, did little to impact voter turnout which reached record levels. VOTERS LEFT their umbrellas at the entrance of Leland Public School. Drenching rain, as much as an inch in some places Tuesday, did little to impact voter turnout which reached record levels. District No. 3 Commissioner Will Bunek who represents most of Suttons Bay Township and a portion of Bingham Township on the county board, won reelection despite a challenge from Suttons Bay businesswoman Lois Bahle.

Bunek is currently serving as Chairman of the County Board. He beat Bahle 1,061 to 942.

“She was a great opponent,” Bunek said of Bahle. “I feel grateful to God, the voters, and even to the Leelanau Enterprise for its endorsement,” Bunek said.

“Of course I am disappointed, Bahle said. “I hoped to work on the county commission to make some positive changes for my community.”

Had Bahle unseated Bunek, the result would have been a 4-3 Democratic majority on the county board – a historic first. For most of the last century, only Republicans served on the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners.

The third Democrat on the county board, District No. 4 Commissioner Ty Wessell, ran unopposed for re-election in Leelanau Township and a northern portion of Suttons Bay Township.

District No. 7 Commissioner Melinda Lautner, the county board’s longest-serving member, handily beat Democrat Julie Morris in this week’s election. District No. 7 includes Kasson and Solon Townships.

Lautner earned 959 votes to Morris’s 792.

“I’m very happy to remain on the County Board for another term,” Lautner said Wednesday morning. “I hope to continue in our efforts to keep taxes low and unnecessary regulations off the backs of our residents. I will always be available to my constituents,” she added.

Republicans representing Districts No. 1 and 2 on the county board, Tony Ansorge and Debra Rushton, respectively, ran unopposed. Ansorge’s district includes much of Elmwood Township plus a portion of Traverse City within Leelanau County. Rushton’s district includes part of Elmwood Township and southern Bingham Township.

The next two-year term for county commissioners begins Jan. 1. Board members are slated to elect their own chairman and vice chairman during an organizational meeting after the first of the year.

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