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Monday October 24, 2016
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Running for Judge



A day earlier, Owdziej (pronounced ow-zeye) had received notice that Governor Snyder had appointed her to the seat left vacant by Nancy Wheeler's retirement. This afternoon, she would be a judge herself.

Wheeler's term was already due to end this year, so "there will still be a primary" in August, says Owdziej, "and there will still be a general election in November."

But overnight what had been a wide-open race had a favorite. "Julia will be designated as incumbent" on the primary ballot, explains county clerk Larry Kestenbaum. In general, he says, "voters don't know any reason not to vote for an incumbent."

All five attorneys seeking election to the probate court applied for the appointment to serve out Wheeler's term. One misunderstood the deadline, but four were interviewed. Another candidate, Connie Jones, notes that as a juvenile court referee, Owdziej "was the only person who didn't have to close up a practice" to take the bench, suggesting that may be one of the reasons she was chosen.

Jane Bassett doesn't think Snyder's blessing is necessarily a good thing: "Being appointed by a Republican governor can be a disadvantage. We need to let the voters speak."

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