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Commissioner targeted by death threat will seek reelection

ESCANABA — One of three Delta County Commissioners who is the subject of a recall election this May has filed paperwork to run again for his seat in November.

“Yesterday I turned in my paperwork to run as a Republican in the 2024 general election. I have worked hard for Delta County, let me continue my work into the future,” wrote Petersen Thursday on the Bob Petersen, for Commissioner Delta County Facebook page, which he has historically used for public statements related to the county.

The post was accompanied by a meme depicting a scene from the movie “Office Space” with the text “Yeah, if you could just get out and vote, that’d be great…”

Petersen is the first of the commissioners who are the subject of the recall to announce he has filed to run for his seat in November. However, he is not the only candidate to announce their intent to run. Commission Chair Dave Moyle, who last August said he did not intend to see reelection in November reversed his decisions this week following a death threat being emailed to the three commissioners.

The email sent March 8 read “Resign now or you will die next week.” The threat is now under investigation by the Michigan State Police.

“This is the extent that the Progressive left will go to get power in Delta County,” Petersen wrote in his own post about the incident made Thursday. He went on in comments made on the post to accuse members of the Delta County Citizens for Ethical leadership — the group spearheading the recall effort against him, Moyle, and Commissioner Bob Barron — for encouraging the person behind the threat, even if the individual was not a member of the group themselves.

“With all the lies, half truths and misrepresentations your side has put out triggered this person to make this threat,” he told one commenter.

All three of the commissioners subject to the recall have argued the recall is politically motivated. Moyle and Petersen, specifically, have pointed to the loss of Kelli Van Ginhoven, who ran against Moyle in 2020, as the impetus of the movement.

Van Ginhoven, who is once again challenging Moyle in the May election made her own statement on the threat Thursday.

“I was made aware this morning when reading The Daily Press of a death threat made to 3 commissioners on March 8. I condemn this action. Hate has no place here. We are not left, we are not right, we are ALL citizens of Delta County. We are more alike than we are different, despite what some continue to push as their talking points. Let’s move forward. Warm regards, Kelli,” she wrote on her own Facebook campaign page Thursday.

As a whole, the Citizens for Ethical Leadership have repeatedly denied the 2020 election is the cause of the recall effort. They have presented a number of grievances against the commissioners, including the commissioners’ opposition to diversity equity and inclusion requirements, the hire of Scott Graham as the county’s municipal attorney, and alleged harassment of county employees by the commissioners. For the purposes of the recall effort, the group focused in on the three commissioners’ votes to terminate former Delta County Administrator Emily DeSalvo in February of 2023.

Petersen, Moyle, and Barron will face challengers Matthew Jensen, Van Ginhoven, and Myra Croasdell, respectively, on May 7. Jensen and Croasdell are running as independents, while Van Ginhoven is running as a Democrat.

Petersen’s filing and Moyle’s reversal of his vow not to run in November put the commissioners and their challengers in a unique position. It is possible one or all of the commissioners could be recalled in May only to be reelected in November.

The November election could be more favorable to the commissioners, all of whom represent the county as Republicans. Delta County has historically been a red county. If that holds true, the commissioners could get a boost from Republican voters who vote straight ticket while supporting Donald Trump.

It is also possible the currently-seated commissioners could keep their seats in the May 7 election only to be voted out in the general election when more voters  head to the polls.

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