State Senate 21st District
Republican Rep. Kim LaSata, 79th House District, and Democrat Ian Haight are seeking the 21st District state Senate seat being vacated by Sen. John Proos due to term limits.
LaSata, of Bainbridge Township, is completing her first term as a state representative, elected in 2016 after a career teaching for Lake Michigan Catholic Schools. As a House member, she serves as the House Committee on Appropriations. She is chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education and vice chair of the Appropriations Subcommitee on General Government.
Haight, of St. Joseph, is an education technology specialist at Berrien RESA and a former two-term Hagar Township clerk, where he served on the finance committee and chaired the election committee and as treasurer of the North Berrien Fire Rescue Board. He is a graduate of Kalamazoo College, with a master’s degree in information science, and Wayne State University, where he earned a degree in political science and his teaching certificate.
State Senate 26th District
Four people are seeking the seat being vacated by Tonya Schuitmaker, who cannot seek re-election because of term limits.
Republican Aric Nesbitt, 38, was most recently the state lottery commissioner for about a year. Nesbitt and his wife, Trisha, live in Lawton. Nesbitt earned a degree in economics from Hillsdale College and has a master’s degree in international business. He served three terms representing Van Buren County in the state House until being term-limited in 2016.
Democrat Garnet Lewis, 57, of Saugatuck is a small-business owner, former educator and civic volunteer. She received a bachelor’s degree in animal science/animal husbandry from Truman State University, a master’s in education from Northern Michigan University and a doctorate in philosophy from the University of North Texas.
She is chairwoman of the Saugatuck Planning Commission and a member of the Saugatuck Board of Review. She served an eight-year term on the Board of Trustees of Northern Michigan University, including serving as chair for a year.
Libertarian Erwin Haas is a retired infectious diseases physician. He lives in Kentwood with his wife and has three adult children. He has a masters in business administration from Grand Valley State University and worked as a flight surgeon in Vietnam. He worked for 20 years at various hospitals around the country. He was a board member of the Grand Valley Coop Credit Union for eight years and a Kentwood city commissioner for four years.
Robert Alway of Ostego is the Green Party Candidate. He has a master’s from Western University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. He has 20 years of experience in environmental quality with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Natural Resources. He is a member of the Otsego City planning commission and a member of Otsego Main Street Economic Vitality Committee.
State House 59th District
Incumbent Aaron Miller, R-Sturgis, faces Democrat Dennis Smith of Centreville.
Miller is a former teacher in Indiana and holds education degrees from Western Michigan University and Bethel College in Indiana. He and his wife, Alex, have a daughter.
Smith is a retired Lutheran pastor who holds degrees from the University of Michigan – Flint and Michigan State University. He is married.
State House 66th District
Incumbent Beth Griffin, R-Mattawan, is seeking another term. She is being challenged by Democrat Dan Seibert. The district covers all of Van Buren County, Alamo Township, Cooper Township and Parchment in Kalamazoo County.
Griffin, 51, and her husband, Gregory, have two children and own Premco Financial Corp. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Indiana University/Purdue University Fort Wayne and a masters in education from Old Dominion University. Before being elected as state representative in 2016, Griffin served on the Van Buren County Board of Commissioners for four years. She taught sixth-grade special education and eighth-grade English in Parchment before being elected to the county board.
Seibert is a systems engineer for Perrigo in Allegan. He lives in Paw Paw with his wife Krystal, and their two children. Seibert holds a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from Western Michigan University. He started his professional career as the systems administrator for the Cole Automotive Group and has worked with companies ranging from small businesses to global corporations. He has not held elected office before.
State House 78th District
Voters will choose a new state representative because Rep. Dave Pagel faces term limts.
Republican Brad Paquette, 30, of Niles is making his first run for public office. He won the August primary against five challengers. He was a teacher at Niles New Tech, a project-based learning program of the Niles Community Schools, until last month. He is a member of the Niles Planning Commission.
Democrat Dean Hill, 67, of Niles is making his third run for public office, having run unsuccessfully for the Niles City Council in the 1980s and two years ago against Pagel. He retired last years after a long career as a teacher at Dowagiac Union High School.
The 78th state house district covers central and southern Berrien County and four townships in Cass County.
State House 79th District
Two newcomers to politics are seeking to fill the 79th District state House seat. The district covers northern Berrien County.
The seat was vacated by state Rep. Kim LaSata, who is running for the 21st state District state senate seat.
Democrat Joey Andrews of St. Joseph faces Republican Pauline Wendzel of Watervliet.
Andrews, 29, graduated from Wayne State Law School in 2013 and is a lawyer. He has owned and operated various small businesses, including managing a family business and starting a solar panel installation company.
Wendzel, 28, is a graduate of Watervliet High School and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology and food industry marketing from Michigan State University.
She worked on her family’s farm at a young age, counseled children at a Christian camp and was Michigan Apple Queen in 2007. She became Programs Director at the North Berrien Historical Museum in 2014, and said she learned about the election process by serving as assistant deputy clerk for Bainbridge Township.
Wendzel is the product brand development manager at Coloma Frozen Foods.
Republican incumbent Mary Whiteford faces Democrat Mark Ludwig.
Whiteford is seeking her second term. She’s been a small business owner and pediatric emergency nurse. Mary and her husband, Kevin, live in Casco Township.
Ludwig and his wife, Kim, founded Sand Lilly Farms and he serves on the Fennville school board and the Clyde Township Planning Commission.