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Winners point to change, positivity in primary election

August 15, 2012 - "It takes a lot to throw your hat in the ring. You have to have respect for everyone who put themselves out there," Trustee David Lohmeier said. From dog bites to walking door-to-door in 100-degree heat, the candidates for Independence Township were truly challenged before Election Day.

Many of those who came out ahead in the Aug. 7 primary believe voters were casting their ballots for change. The majority of successful candidates were newcomers to township government, including presumptive supervisor Pat Kittle, presumptive treasurer Paul Brown, and Jose Aliaga, Al Pope, and Andrea Schroeder, three of the four Republican candidates for trustee who won nominations.

"A lot of folks were looking for some changes," said Brown.

On top of wanting new leadership, campaign "negativity doesn't play well," said Schroeder, whose race for trustee this year was met with more success than her attempt to gain a seat on the board in 2008.

"The trustees ran a very ethical and clean race," said incumbent trustee Lohmeier, who will be on the ballot again in November.

Kittle agreed, staying positive and focused helps.

"Others were veering from their core message and got away from their strengths," said Kittle, whose campaign strategy was simple: keep a consistent message.

From mailers to Facebook pages to knocking door-to-door, most candidates used similar means of getting their message out to voters. Of his campaign, Kittle said he used a "blended approach," consisting of advertising in the CNews and putting video on his website because "you can't get out and meet everybody," he said. Like others, Kittle used signs and direct mail too.

When it came to signs, Lohmeier wondered if they sometimes worked against candidates because he heard a few complaints about the number of signs placed around the township.

"Everybody would like to see fewer signs," he said.

Clerk Barb Pallotta, who retained her seat, designed her own signs, which were different from the others because they were pink and circular.

She designed the signs herself and chose pink for a couple of reasons – "p" stands for both "pink" and "Pallotta," and pink isn't the typical election color, which she hoped would set her apart.

"I'm not a politician," said Pallotta.

Other than the signs, she said she kept it simple and continued to "focus on the work." She stopped knocking on doors after getting bit by a dog and didn't go to events.

On the other hand, being visible at events like Concerts in the Park is part of what Brown believes helped him win, even if it was by only 113 votes.

"I had to be out there," he said.

From his perspective, "even the smallest part of a campaign done wrong can cost the election."

Even though he still has some campaigning left to do, Lohmeier thinks, "it's good to have a lot of people running," and trustee-hopeful Andrea Schroeder is "looking forward to November."

The candidates who made it over the Primary hurdle and will go unchallenged in November are feeling a variety of emotions. "Stunned" was how Brown described his feelings just after seeing the election results. "I was very happy," said Pallotta. "It's a neat feeling," said Pat Kittle. "You have to try it once."

General election winners will be sworn in on Nov. 20.

Clarkston News reporter
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