That's the story of the west, says Turner. "Over twenty years, it's gone from rural and conservative to suburban and progressive. Chelsea is getting to be a little Ann Arbor, and a hard city for a Republican to win. Even in 2010, which was a good year for Republicans, I lost the city of Chelsea. And this time, I got only five votes more."
Newly elected county commissioner Martinez-Kratz sees the same trend. "When the economy was more viable, people were moving out to Chelsea, and Chelsea was becoming more Democratic. This slowed down with the recession, but it'll probably pick back up. If people move to the townships, they're used to Democratic values and working in public institutions like the university and the hospital, and they see them in a more favorable light than traditional Republicans."
Pat Kelly remembers an earlier time in Dexter Township. "Some of the farmers used to be Democrats, but farmers in general, and especially the Germans, turned Republican about Roosevelt's time. And it stayed that way." Though she'd been "actively involved in politics since 1997 and held elected office since 2002," Kelly herself never ran as a Democrat until 2008. "That's the year I had to declare a party because I had an opponent, and 2008 was a good year to be a Democrat."