Fitz/Wilson/millages win

Published 8:40 am Thursday, August 5, 2004

By Staff
CASSOPOLIS - Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz retained his office against challenger Mark Herman, Circuit Court Administrator Barbara K. Wilson won the Republican nod over James Becraft to succeed retiring Clerk-Register Ann Simmons and voters approved drug enforcement millage.
But Tuesday's primary election proved upsetting to others. Porter Township sewer flap will end Mike Raab's short stay on the Board of Commissioners.
With all 22 precincts reporting at 12:30 a.m. today, the Council on Aging millage renewal had passed, 4,212 yes to 1,809 no.
The half-mill for four years to fight drugs, particularly methamphetamine, was approved 3,313 yes to 2,693 no.
Sheriff Joseph M. Underwood Jr. won the GOP nomination without opposition, garnering 4,881 ballots.
Treasurer Linda Irwin received the Republican nomination with 4,612 votes to face Democratic nominee Rosemary M. Gillam, who tallied 787.
In perhaps the hottest race, Fitz defeated Herman, 2,951 to 2,529, although Herman prevailed in Dowagiac, 256 to 252.
Referring to the successful drug enforcement millage he campaigned for with the sheriff and Dowagiac Police Chief Tom Atkinson, Fitz said, "This sends a double message that Cass County wants tough, no-nonsense prosecutions, as well as insisting upon a no-tolerance policy on drugs. This outcome is an endorsement of the hard work which my staff put forth in the past year. The public recognized that hard work. We intend to continue those efforts."
Fitz added, "The passage of the millage sends a strong message to meth, crack and other drug dealers that we are out to get you. We're armed with tools to prevail."
His campaign "tried to focus on our record and on a positive message. The message we were trying to focus on was providing Cass County with tough prosecutions, and I think that's what it wants. They want no-nonsense prosecutions. They want murderers and child molesters taken off the streets, and that's what my office provides. I think the public recognized the experience and the qualifications and they decided that's the route they wanted to go. I don't want to focus anything negative on my opponent. He fought a hard battle, but I think in the end, the public wanted experience and proven success."
Fitz, who came here in 2003 from a more urban county, Muskegon, said two things struck him about politics in Cass County.
He conducted an intensive door-to-door campaign, knocking on more than 3,000 doors. "I wanted to meet the public," Fitz said. "I wanted to make sure that I knew my voters, that I knew who I represented. So, for three months I knocked on doors. I had a tremendous committee."
Wilson, a 1975 Union High School graduate, won easily over Becraft in Dowagiac, 440 to 56.