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Hentschel’s Eligibility Is Disputed in County Commission Election Due to Residency Issues

Republican Carol Crawford and Democrat Bruce Moore, both running for the Grand Traverse County Commission in District 5, have filed documents in East Bay Township contesting the eligibility of fellow candidate Rob Hentschel, the current Commission Chair, to stand in the upcoming election.

Crawford and Moore contend that Hentschel cannot vote in District 5 and is therefore ineligible to run because his reported address is not actually his primary residence.

Hentschel writes that despite not initially having access to the challenging paperwork, he “submitted his election documentation in good faith.”

According to Michigan law, Hentschel has 30 days to respond to the township clerk’s challenge before his voter registration is revoked.

Before filing their application for candidacy, county commission candidates must be registered to vote in the jurisdiction in which they intend to run.

Hentschel would have needed to compete against fellow Commissioner Darryl Nelson to retain his position in District 6 due to the county commission’s expansion from seven to nine seats this year and the redistribution of district boundaries.

Hentschel earlier stated to The Ticker that he wouldn’t challenge Nelson.

According to East Bay Township property records, Hentschel bought a parcel from his sister on Three Mile Road in January.

At that time, Hentschel’s reported principal residence was on Arbutus Lake Road in District 6.

Hentschel told The Ticker that he purchased the property to be near his elderly parents, but he also admitted that it might give him the option of relocating there to run for office in District 5.

Hentschel later used the address to register as a voter in District 5 and file for the election there, where he is competing against Democrat Bruce Moore and Republican Carol Crawford, the former chairwoman of the County Commission.


The place “at which a person ordinarily sleeps, keeps his or her personal possessions, and has a regular place of accommodation” is defined as “residence” for the purposes of voter registration under state law.

In the case of several residences or homes apart from one’s spouse, the location where a person spends the majority of their time must be considered their official residence for the purposes of this act.

Crawford and Moore contend in their challenges that Hentschel is ineligible to vote and run in District 5 because his true principal residence is still on Arbutus Lake Road, not Three Mile Road.

The fact that Hentschel’s Arbutus Lake Road home still bears the main residence exemption (PRE) is one of the arguments made in support of their objections.

Susan Karakos, the assessor for East Bay Township, confirmed that Hentschel has neither requested a PRE on the property on Three Mile Road nor revoked his PRE on Arbutus Lake Road.

For tax reasons, the IRS determines a taxpayer’s principal residence based on several factors, including the address on their driver’s license, the primary residence of their family members, and – if they own two houses – the one they use most frequently during the year.

Crawford’s contention is that Hentschel and his children live at their Arbutus Lake Road home, which meets the IRS definition of a principal residence by serving as the family’s primary place of abode.

Crawford submitted photographs of Hentschel’s Facebook account from 2021 and 2022 that included images of the Arbutus Lake Road property that he claimed to be his “backyard” and that were referred to in those screenshots.

But Hentschel’s voter registration and driver’s license, which serve as proof of primary residence in the eyes of the law, both mention the Three Mile Road address.

Hentschel is “improperly obtaining property tax benefits and exemptions” for the Arbutus Lake Road property, according to Crawford, if Three Mile Road is in fact where his primary residence is.

In his own challenge, which he submitted independently of Crawford, Moore made a like case. In his letter, he stated that Mr Hentschel “cannot simultaneously spend 51 per cent of his time at the Arbutus Lake Road property for tax purposes and 51 per cent of his time at the North Three Mile Road property for voting purposes.”

Because of the fact that Hentschel’s PRE is still on Arbutus Lake Road, Moore argued that Hentschel cannot register to vote at that address because he doesn’t live there.

As required by state law, East Bay Township Clerk Susanne Courtade wrote a certified letter Wednesday advising Hentschel of the challenges after receiving written objections from Crawford and Moore at her address on Three Mile Road.

Hentschel said when reached by The Ticker on Friday that he was unaware of the letter’s existence and had not yet seen the challenges, but added that he had submitted his “election paperwork in good faith.”

After being given copies of the challenges, Hentschel stated he would need time to analyze the materials and declined to comment further until speaking with a lawyer.

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According to Michigan election law, if a registered elector’s eligibility is questioned, that person “may within 30 days appear before the clerk and answer the questions and take the oath required of persons challenged on the same grounds at the election, or instead of appearing in person the challenged elector, within a like period, may elect to file with the clerk an affidavit setting forth specifically his qualifications as an elector of the municipality and a sworn statement from the challenged elector.”

Hentschel’s voter registration could be revoked under the law if he doesn’t show up and be sworn in within 30 days or doesn’t submit an affidavit. Hentschel’s registration may potentially be revoked if his remarks don’t indicate that he is a legitimate elector.

The law also establishes sanctions for those who raise an elector’s eligibility issue without a valid defence.

A misdemeanour may be filed against anyone who contests an elector’s eligibility “indiscriminately, without good cause, or for the purpose of harassment,” as stated in the statute.

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