Three running for Niles mayor in Aug. 2 primary

Published 9:36 am Thursday, April 21, 2016

The race for Niles mayor is one of many contested races in Berrien County that will appear on the ballot during the Aug. 2 Primary Election.

Niles councilman Robert Durm, retired auto service manager Rex Carpenter and Shelton’s Farm Market’s Nick Shelton have all filed to run for mayor, according to City Clerk Linda Casperson.

The deadline to file was 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Current Mayor Mike McCauslin is not running for reelection after holding the position since 1999.

The term of office is four years and the position pays $800 a month and includes the benefits of a cell phone and internet service.

The mayor serves as the presiding officer of the eight-member city council, but only votes when required to break a tie vote of the council.

The two candidates who receive the most votes in the Primary Election advance to the General Election Nov. 8.

Below is information about each candidate in alphabetical order:


Rex Carpenter

Carpenter, 60, is one of several people who helped organize and run a weekly car show that took place in downtown Niles during the summer months. He is in the process of leading the charge to put on this year’s car show.

Rex Carpenter

Rex Carpenter

A Niles native, Carpenter graduated from Niles High School in 1974 and joined the U.S. Navy before earning an associate’s degree in general studies from Southwestern Michigan College with a focus on business and sociology.

He is retired and said he spent most of his time working as an auto service manager for car dealerships, but spent two years as a police officer in Ohio and Wyoming.

He has no previous political experience.

“I’d like to run for mayor and affect some changes for the good,” he said. “I’d like to look back on a career and see that I progressed all through my life and was able to become part of the city that I love.”

Robert Durm

Durm, 51, has served on the Niles City Council for 20 years, including the last eight as mayor pro-tem, which means he assumes the duties of the mayor if the mayor is not available.

Robert Durm

Robert Durm

A Niles native, Durm graduated from Niles High School in 1982 and earned a bachelor’s degree in government from the University of Notre Dame in 1987.

He works as a Title 1 reading instructor in language arts at Ring Lardner Middle School in Niles and in the transportation department at Four Winds Casino.

He is a member of the Knights of Columbus Council 708 and has volunteered coaching youth sports for 25 years.

“I had been considering it (running for mayor) for some length of time,” he said. “Mike (McCauslin) is the one who got me involved on the council 20 years ago. Now that he is stepping down I thought it was the right time to run. I have a love for the City of Niles and for city government.”


Nick Shelton

Shelton, 30, is a Niles native and 2004 graduate of Brandywine High School who earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and management from Albion College in 2008.

He works at Shelton’s Farm Market in Niles where he performs a variety of duties, including social media and marketing manager, buyer, food safety coordinator and fruit peddler.

Nick Shelton

Nick Shelton

Shelton’s community service includes Niles-Buchanan Relay for Life (#TeamLindsey) and One Good Deed Michiana.

Shelton said Niles residents deserve a voice on the council and he wants to be that voice.

“I want to be part of a government that is accountable to the people and acts with their best interest at heart,” he said. “I’m excited about the potential of Niles, and I want to be a spark for positive change. I want to work hard to make Niles a happening place where people want to visit, work, live, and thrive.

“I will bring a fresh perspective to our existing council, and be a mayor who fights for the people of Niles.”


Below is the unofficial candidate list for Berrien and Cass Counties for the Aug. 2 Primary Election:



County prosecutor

• Michael Sepic (R)


Berrien County sheriff

• L. Paul Bailey (R)

• Rick Briand (Natural Law Party)


County clerk

• Sharon Tyler (R)


County treasurer

• Bret Witkowski (R)


Register of deeds

• Lori D. Jarvis (R)


Drain commissioner

• Christopher Quattrin (R)


County surveyor

• John G. Kamer (R)


County commissioner — District 10

• R. McKinley Elliot (R)


County commissioner — District 11

• James Curran (R)


County commissioner — District 12

• Mike Majerek (R)

• John Klimek (D)




• Victor Fitz (R)



• Richard J. Behnke (R)

• Tim Cochran (R)

• James Terry Ellis (R)


County clerk/Register of deeds

• Monica Kennedy (R)


County treasurer

• Linda Pruett (R)


County water resources commissioner

• Bruce Campbell (R)

• Tony Catanzarite (D)


County surveyor

• Thomas A. Stephenson (R)


County commissioner — District 5

• Robert Ziliak



City commissioner

• Patricia Moore




• Rex Carpenter

• Robert Durm

• Nick Shelton


City commissioner — Ward 1

• Georgia Boggs


City commissioner — Ward 2

• Dan VandenHeede


City commissioner — Ward 3

• No one filed


City commissioner — Ward 4

• John DiConstanzo




• Steve Hicks (R)



• Don Vite (R)



• David Kuhn (R)


Trustees (vote for two)

• Payton Gordon (R)

• David Zelmer (R)




• Malinda Cole-Crocker (R)



• Tina Marie-Anne Darnell (R)

• Jill M. Roberts (R)



• Terry Dipietro (R)

• Janet L. Dehring (R)


Trustees (vote for two)

• Lynn A. Ferris (R)

• James McGee (R)

• Tom VanAntwerp (R)




• James Stover (R)



• Terry Eull (R)



• James Ringler (R)


Trustees (vote for four)

• Herschel Hoese (R)

• Chris Vella (R)

• Richard Cooper (R)

• August Kuehn (R)

• Daniel C. Pulaski (R)


Parks board (vote for five)

• Sarah Craig

• Jordan Perkins

• Wayne Perkins

• Harry D. Thibault