Scripps lone Dem seeking House seat; Janik backs away

From The Leelanau Enterprise

A Democratic candidate running for his party's nomination for the 101st House seat has stepped aside in favor of a fellow Democrat from Leelanau County.

And one fewer candidate remains in the Republican pool of candidates for the same seat, as county administrator Chet Janik has announced that he decided not to run.

Former state Rep. Dan Scripps of Northport, a Democrat, has formally filed for the seat he occupied from 2008 through 2010. He is the only Democrat who has filed for the seat.

"There's a disconnect between those in Lansing and the people they're supposed to represent in northern Michigan," said Scripps, adding that local schools receive just 60 percent of the funding of downstate schools. "There's a lack of engagement between the people and their elected leaders."

Former Frankfort-Elberta Schools Superintendent Tom Stobie had announced his candidacy last fall. Stobie earned the Democratic nomination for the 101st in 2014, but ended up falling to state Rep. Ray Franz (R-Onekama).

In a press conference yesterday morning, Stobie announced that he is exiting the race.

"Will I am disappointed that my campaign is ending today, I am confident that the families of the 101st House District have a friend in former representative Dan Scripps," Stobie said, while endorsing his fellow Democrat. "Families in northwest Michigan deserve a representative who will take their voice to Lansing and make their priorities his own at the Capitol, and I am confident Scripps will do that."


After losing to Franz in the 2010 General Election, Scripps worked in Washington, D.C. representing financial institutions and project developers while working for the law firm of Latham & Watkins.

In August 2012, he and his wife, Jamie, returned to Michigan and lived in Grand Rapids while he worked for the Institute for Energy Innovations.

He currently serves as senior advisor for the Institute for Energy Innovation and the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, which is a business trade association representing companies in Michigan's growing advanced energy sector.

Scripps said he would step away from both positions if elected.

Dan and Jamie Scripps have two sons, Jack and 18-month-old Nicol. The family moved to Northport late last summer.

"We got to a point where we had to consider where we wanted raise our children," said Scripps, whose parents Doug and Merilee Scripps live in Northport right across the street from Dan's family. "We wanted to come home." Doug is supervisor of Leelanau Township while Merilee is treasurer of Northport Village.

Jack is in kindergarten at Northport Public School and Nicol goes to the Leelanau Children's Center, also in Northport.

Meanwhile, Leelanau County administrator Chet Janik says it's not time for him to run for state office. Janik, who was approached last month by Republicans seeking a moderate candidate and offering funds to back him up, has declined the proposal.

"I seriously considered the option but would like to take the opportunity to respond to the inquiries by referencing a quote from Ecclesiastes which states 'There is a time for everything under the sun and a season for every activity under the heavens.'

"This is simply not my time to get involved in the upcoming political campaign and therefore I will not be seeking the House of Representatives' position in 2016," he said in a letter to the editor this week.

Janik grew up in Cedar and has worked in educational administration for most of his career. He has been employed as Leelanau County administrator since 2012 after retiring as superintendent for the Charlevoix school district.

He feels blessed to be working in the county where he grew up.

"I know that the county will be well represented in Lansing as there are several good and honorable people that have announced their candidacy for the position," he wrote.

Curt VanderWall, chairman of the Mason County Board of Commissioners, is the only candidate formally seeking the Republican party's nomination for the 101st House seat.

The House district represents Leelanau, Benzie, Manistee, and Mason counties. VanderWall filed as a candidate with the Michigan Secretary of State last month.

VanderWall lives in Ludington and has also served as chairman of the Mason County Planning, Zoning and Airport committee and the MSU Extension District 7.

His non-government activities include serving as chair of the governing board for Jericho House, a Christian-based 10-bed home that helps women get back on their feet after experiencing homelessness.

He and his wife, Diane, have been married for 31 years. They are the owners of the Turf Care Mole Man business in Ludington.

Former Leelanau County commissioner Mark Walter from Suttons Bay Township has announced his candidacy, but has yet to file for the Republican nomination.