One state representative from Southwest Michigan will face a primary challenge in August. The filing deadline for most offices was Tuesday afternoon.

Pauline Wendzel, a first-term Republican from Watervliet, is being challenged by Republican Jacquie Gnodtke Blackwell of Bridgman for the Republican nomination. In November, the winner will likely face the lone Democrat to file for the race, Chokwe Pitchford of Benton Harbor.

The area’s other two state representatives, both Republicans, are seeking re-election but will not face a primary challenger. Both are being challenged by Democrats in November.

Three people – one Republican and two Democrats – so far have filed to challenge U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph. However, due to a ruling this week by a federal court judge, the filing deadline for congressional races in Michigan has been extended to May 8, so additional candidates may file for the 6th District race. All of the challengers who filed by Tuesday had previously announced their intentions to run.

The names of candidates who filed to run for office in Berrien County government, as well as candidates filing to run for township offices in Berrien County, were not released Tuesday. Berrien County Clerk Sharon Tyler said her office would not release the information until Wednesday. A list of candidates in St. Joseph, Lincoln and Royalton townships were provided by township clerks.

Here’s a breakdown of candidate filings that have been released:

6th Congressional District (Two-year term)

There are four candidates who so far have submitted signatures to run for the 6th Congressional District. Among them are two Kalamazoo Democrats and two St. Joseph Republicans.

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph (incumbent)

Elena Oelke, R-St. Joseph

State Rep. Jon Hoadley, D-Kalamazoo

Jen Richardson, D-Kalamazoo

78th District – State House (Two-year term)

There are two candidates running for the state’s 78th District in the House of Representatives.

State Rep. Brad Paquette, R-Niles (incumbent)

Dan VandenHeede, D-Niles

79th District – State House (Two-year term)

There are three candidates running for the state’s 79th District in the House of Representatives.

State Rep. Pauline Wendzel, R-Watervliet (incumbent)

Jacquie Gnodtke Blackwell, R-Bridgman

Chokwe Pitchford, D-Benton Harbor

66th District – State House (Two-year term)

There are two candidates running for the state’s 66th District in the House of Representatives.

Beth Griffin, R-Mattawan

Abigail Wheeler, D-Mattawan

Lincoln Township

All four-year terms


Richard Stauffer, R-St. Joseph (incumbent)


Terrie Smith, R-Stevensville (incumbent)


Stacy Loar-Porter, R-Stevensville (incumbent)

Trustees (Four positions)

Rick Stone, R-Stevensville (incumbent)

Thomas Norbey II, R-Stevensville (incumbent)

Marc Florian, R-Stevensville (incumbent)

Deborah Peterson, R-Stevensville (incumbent)

Kevin Gillette, R-Stevenville

Royalton Township

The Royalton Township board will get a makeover this year. Supervisor Robert Basselman is the only incumbent running for re-election. Incumbent Clerk William Foust is running for treasurer, and all other candidates are not currently on the board.


Robert Basselman, R-Royalton Township (incumbent)


Rachel Bernard, R-Royalton Township


William Foust, R-Royalton Township

Mike Eisenhart, R-Royalton Township

Trustees (Two positions)

Jason Ackerman, R-Royalton Township

Julie Marsh, R-Royalton Township

Becky Foster, D-Royalton Township

St. Joseph Township


Roger Seely, R-St. Joseph Township (incumbent)


David Vonk, R-St. Joseph Township (incumbent)


Patricia Rose, R-St. Joseph Township (incumbent)

Trustees (Four positions)

Thomas Milnikel, R-St. Joseph Township (incumbent)

Ronald Griffin, R-St. Joseph Township (incumbent)

Melissa Hahn, R-St. Joseph Township (incumbent)

Edward Meny, R-St. Joseph Township (incumbent)

Ian Haight, D-St. Joseph Township

Van Buren County

Most Van Buren County incumbent elected officials will face few if any challengers in the primary or general election.

None of the county official incumbents face challenges. The only newcomer who has filed is Republican Susan Zuiderveen, who is seeking the prosecuting attorney’s seat, which will be vacated at the end of this year by Michael Bedford, who announced in 2019 he would not seek re-election.

All positions are four-year terms.


Daniel Abbott, R-Bangor (incumbent)


Suzie Roehm, R-Decatur (incumbent)


Trisha Nesbitt, R-Lawton (incumbent)


Susan Zuiderveen, R

Register of Deeds

Paul DeYoung, R-Paw Paw (incumbent)

Drain Commissioner

Joe Parman, R-Paw Paw (incumbent)


Donald Gilchrist, R-Gobles (incumbent)

All seven county commissioners are seeking re-election, and none faces a primary challenge. Three Republican incumbents are being challenged by Democrats in the general election.

District 1

Gail Patterson Gladney, D-South Haven (incumbent)

District 2

Kurt Doroh, R-Bangor (incumbent)

District 3

Richard Godfrey, R-Bloomingdale (incumbent)

John Wagner, D-Almena Township

District 4

Mike Chappell, R-Hartford (incumbent)

District 5

Randall Peat, R-Paw Paw (incumbent)

Edward R. Hellwege, D-Paw Paw

District 6

Donald Hanson, R-Decatur (incumbent)

District 7

Paul Schincariol, R-Mattawan (incumbent)

David Goldenberg, D-Mattawan