Republican candidate takes the lead in District 78 state representative race

NILES — It has been a long road of campaigning for District 78 state representative candidates.

Republican Brad Paquette, 31, and Democrat Dean Hill, 67, both hit the pavement hard in the final days before the midterm election, knocking on hundreds of doors, attending local debates and seeking to rally voters to the polls. But Tuesday night all they could do was wait.

As of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night, Paquette pulled into the lead by a wide margin, with 10,701 votes in Berrien County and 5,062 votes in Cass County. Hill earned 7,846 votes in Berrien County and 2,490 votes in Cass County, according to unofficial results.

Paquette said he looked forward to serving at the level of state representative.

“It would just be really, really an opportunity for me to grow and continue to meet so many people in this district that is 80 some thousand people here,” Paquette said. “I would love to be able to interact with as many of them as I can.”

If he officially claims the role as state representative for District 78, Paquette said he first intends to get on the education committee in Lansing and auto insurance reform committee.

“Those are my two passions, auto insurance reform and the education piece,” Paquette said. “I would love to reshape the role of the Michigan Department of Education to be more of a network that brings educators in.”

Both Paquette and Hill are former teachers and targeted education reform while campaigning. Hill served 44 ½ years as a teacher with Dowagiac Union High School and Paquette was a teacher at Niles New Tech for about five years.

“I always ask the question to every person I encounter in education, ‘if we can’t better the system of education, who can? And if we are not going to, who will?’” Paquette said. “I was teaching civics and my kids were asking me, ‘well, what am I going to do after I was challenging them to get more involved in civic life?”

This election marks the second time that Hill has run for state representative for the District 78 seat. He last ran for the seat in 2016, but lost to Republican Dave Pagel.

“This election has had a lot more intensity. People have really worked hard to make a change if this doesn’t happen [him winning],” Hill said.

Hill said he believed that President Donald Trump had ignited a mobilization for people across party lines to take to the polls to provide a voice for their party. Across Michiana, polls saw long lines and a consistent outpouring of voters.

“There have been a lot of people that when you knock on their door they are concerned about Trump and the things he has affected,” Hill said.

This year, hours before the results began pouring into the polls, Hill expressed a little skepticism at claiming the victory.

“I’m going to be amazed if I win, because no Democrat has won in the 78th District since 1964,” Hill said.

Hill said he was disappointed to lose the race, especially given so many had worked hard on the campaign.

This was Paquette’s first year running in an election. He said he had enjoyed all that the campaign experience had taught him.

“It’s been fantastic. It’s given me a free pass to go and talk to people I probably would have never talked to in my entire life,” Paquette said. “You cram hundreds of conversations into the past couple of months and it is exactly what I love to do.”

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Berrien County reports additional COVID-19 death

Dowagiac

Dowagiac restaurateur arrested on criminal sexual conduct charges

Buchanan

Bike Buchanan pedals last ride of season

Buchanan

Caring Circle Services relocating to Niles

Dowagiac

SMC Board of Trustees devotes day to long-range planning

Cass County

Cass County COA celebrates veterans with online photo, story project

Berrien County

Salvation Army seeks volunteers for annual campaign

Buchanan

Buchanan Field of Dreams Dog Park gets 10 new trees

News

Niles gives marijuana consumption centers the green light

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 164,274 cases, 7,239 deaths

Buchanan

Buchanan commissioners say goodbye to leaders, prepare for future

Dowagiac

Dowagiac receives USDA grant

Local Government

City council gives approval of funding for homeless aid, city administrator raise

Dowagiac

Dowagiac City Council encourages safe trick-or-treating

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Fire Department wins second straight Battle of The Badges blood drive

Berrien County

SMCAS seeks third wheelchair transport van

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Middle/Union High School report positive COVID-19 cases

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 161,907 cases, 7,211 deaths

Cass County

Lewis Cass ISD superintendent announces retirement

Edwardsburg

DAR marks grave

Buchanan

Buchanan celebrates ‘Nicest Place in America’ honor Saturday

Dowagiac

Honor Credit Union gives back

News

MDHHS issues Emergency Order updating requirements for residential care facilities to allow for indoor visitation

Breaking News

Saturday morning shooting causes property damage in downtown Niles