HOUGHTON - Two incumbents on the Houghton County Board of Commissioners easily held on to their seats Tuesday night, while a newcomer had a large margin of victory.
District 3 Commissioner Anton Pintar (Democrat) and District 5 Commissioner Tim Palosaari (Republican) won re-election. In District 1, Tom Tikkanen (R) defeated Rick Kasprzak (D) to earn his first term on the board.
Tikkanen defeated Kasprzak 1,882 votes to 1,068 (63.4 to 36 percent).
Tikkanen thanked the voters, and pledged to serve all residents of the district.
"I'm very excited ... I feel I know the communities well and many of the people well and getting to know a lot of them much better," he said. "But I also pledge to work hard at the county level to tackle some of our bigger issues that the county will be facing. I'm honored also to be joining those who are already serving at the county level. They've proven to be very effective community leaders and I'll be happy to be part of them."
Kasprzak admitted to disappointment with the outcome.
"I campaigned very hard; I knocked on a lot of doors," he said. "I knew Tom Tikkanen was going to be a formidable opponent. He has a lot of name recognition up here. He's been involved in the community for a long time. ... I knew I had my work cut out for me. I guess we'll wait and see if he's able to accomplish what he's promising to accomplish over the next few years. I'm not going anywhere. Maybe next time will be my time."
Kasprzak said he hasn't ruled out running for county commissioner again, or a township board seat.
Pintar defeated Bill Manderfield (Independent) 1,334 votes (61.4) to 834 (38.36).
Pintar said he was pleased with the margin of victory.
"I want to thank the voters for voting for me, and the people who supported me ... hopefully I'll continue to serve the people of District 3 and the people of Houghton County."
Manderfield could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
Palosaari beat challenger Judith Rupley (D) 2,177 votes (60 percent) to 1,442 (39.8).
"I'm honored that the people of Houghton County in my district would support me again," he said. "I guess they thought I did a decent job the first two years."
Palosaari said he welcomed the addition of other conservatives to the board in Tom Tikkanen and Albert Koskela. He said he would like to get the public's input on how to approach the unfunded liability on the county's pension fund.
"We're paying the minimum balance on $7 million right now," he said. "We're never going to get it paid off at this rate ... I think we're going backward every year."
Rupley said she enjoyed campaigning, and was happy for the larger pattern of Democratic successes, including the victories of President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and State Rep. Scott Dianda.
"There's only two ways to go: You win or you lose. In this case I lost," she said. "I congratulate Tim Palosaari for his win. It was a very interesting campaign, and I enjoyed my campaign and meeting new people."
New District 2 Commissioner Albert Koskela (R) and incumbent District 4 Commissioner Scott Ala (D) ran unopposed, getting 2,456 votes and 1,202, respectively.