The high turnout in Chelsea drives the new mayor and councilors into office
CHELSEA, MI – Almost every second registered Chelsea voter cast a vote, successfully electing current councilor Jane Pacheco as the city’s next mayor.
Pacheco, who has been on the council since 2013, beat her opponent, her longtime council member and current mayor, Pro-Tem Cheri Albertson, with 607 votes and won with almost 64% of the vote.
Also on Tuesday evening, incumbent city council member Tony Iannelli won a second term with 1,357 votes. He is joined by second and third placed voters Christine Mehuron and Bill Ruddock, both new faces on the council.
With unofficial results that put the turnout at 46.65%, engagement in the races exceeded that of any previous year’s local elections in Chelsea that were at least a decade ago. In 2019, around 33% of voters cast their vote.
Read more: Live election results on November 2, 2021 in Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County
Pacheco, who spoke to The Ann Arbor News / MLive of a celebration at Thompson’s Pizza after the results came in, said she was in the polls when they opened at 7 a.m.
She praised the election campaigns of a number of candidates for their high level of commitment in the local races, even if no state or federal politicians were on the ballot.
“We’ve had really good participation in council meetings last year and people are paying attention,” she said.
Three seats were up for grabs in the city council race. When the full results were announced around 8:50 p.m., 293 votes separated the third-placed Ruddock from the next highest vote winner.
Ruddock, the finance manager for Chelsea First United Methodist Church, said he was delighted with the results and Pacheco’s victory.
“I feel like the people of Chelsea have made clear the approach they want in the future,” he said.
Ruddock said the new council must continue to manage growth in the community of approximately 5,500 residents in western Washtenaw County. You will also have to grapple with a small town police review commissioned as part of the aftermath of handling protests against racial justice in the summer of 2020.
He is accompanied by Christine Mehuron, a philosophy professor at Eastern Michigan University who took second place with 1,125 votes. The newly elected councilor praised “zealous supporters” of all candidates for bringing residents to the polls.
“The numbers show that our voters in Chelsea embrace positive thinking and dislike negative campaigns,” she said. “I feel elated.”
Mehuron added that she was confident that Pacheco, who will replace interim Mayor Melissa Johnson, will be able to reach consensus while guiding the council through the next four years.
Of all the November 2 races in Washtenaw County, the Chelsea Council competition was fueled by the most money, with the four contestants disclosing around $ 12,200 in cash donations prior to the election.
But the two candidates who overtook their competitors failed to see that success carried over to the ballot box.
Candidates Phil Sawicki, a retired police officer, and David Keizer, a Chelsea Lumber Company driver, received the lowest two votes of the six candidates. The couple had walked on a common platform and had been prepared for Albertson’s mayoral application.
Candidate Steven Wright’s fourth place was also not enough to get him a seat on the new council.
Chelsea’s new leadership is eager to get to work.
“I feel ready to listen, dream with the rest of the council, and then put guidelines in place to achieve this,” said Ruddock.
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