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Two familiar faces and one new one were chosen Tuesday in the three contested seats for the Berrien County Board of Commissioners.

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Fifth District Commissioner Rayonte Bell, D-Benton Harbor, won his second term against challenger Karen Garlanger, a Republican, with an unofficial vote count of 3,669 to 3,022.

Bell, 23, said he’s happy the people trust in his leadership even though he’s inexperienced in local government.

“I’m going to keep my ear to the streets and listen to the people,” he said.

In addition, he said he gives all the glory to God and is thankful to everyone who voted for him. Bell is a pre-engineering student at Lake Michigan College.

District 5 includes St. Joseph; St. Joseph Township, precincts 1 and 2; and Shoreham (part of St. Joseph Township, precinct 2).

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Eighth District Commissioner Teri Sue Freehling, R-Baroda, beat challenger Brett Muchow, D-Buchanan, by 2,564 to 1,560.

Freehling, who was first elected to the board in 2015, was unavailable for comment.

District 8 includes Baroda Township; Baroda (part of Baroda Township, precinct 1); Oronoko Township; and Berrien Springs (part of Oronoko Township, precinct 2).



Alex Ott, R-Sawyer, won the open District 9 seat against Michelle Hannon, D-New Buffalo, with a vote total of 3,390 to 3,283. The incumbent, Ezra Scott, did not run for reelection.

When contacted by phone, Ott, 52, said he looks forward to representing everyone.

“I just want to thank everyone. I want to thank Michelle Hannon for stepping up and running. It’s great. Now, I’ll represent everybody,” he said.

Ott owns FixIT Computing in Bridgman.

District 9 includes Bridgman; Lake Township; New Buffalo; New Buffalo Township; Grand Beach (New Buffalo Township, precinct 1); Michiana (New Buffalo Township, precinct 1); and Chikaming Township.

Commissioners are elected for two-year terms. Due to redistricting, some of the boundaries for county commission districts have changed.

Contact:, 932-0361, Twitter: @HPWrege

Staff Writer at The Herald-Palladium