County clerk Larry Kestenbaum
the ignominy of recording her own defeat.
Kestenbaum liked Haines and respected her work in the two-part office, which also tracks real estate ownership. But as a longtime observer of local politics, he could see that county Republican officeholders were headed the way of the incandescent lightbulb. Concluding that sooner or later a Democrat would defeat even the popular Haines, he says, "I thought, 'It might as well be me.'"
Kestenbaum, a former commissioner in both Washtenaw and Ingham counties, is a walking encyclopedia of political trivia. Now, after years of career changes, it appears he has landed his dream job. Although "most normal people don't aspire to be county clerk," he reflects, "I'm enjoying it a lot. It really combines a lot of the things I'm interested in." Those things include (besides politics) computers, the workings of municipalities, and even genealogy-many tracers of family trees end up in his office looking for relatives' birth and death certificates.