Letters to the Editor: Charlevoix County Elections Edition

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I have just got back for Colorado from a unsuccessful elk hunting trip and have found out what was going on in this Charlevoix circuit judge race since I left. I want to remind the voters of Charlevoix County of some of the things that happen in past. In the upcoming election for our next circuit judge, I have not seen or heard anyone mention the lawsuit filed against Mary Beth Kur and Charlevoix County. I have not seen or heard any one mention the $50,000 judgment entered against Ms. Kur on the

whistleblower case filed by John Jarema. I have not seen or heard anyone mention the $270,000 awarded an employee for medical care and health insurance after she had to leave her job at the prosecutor’s office headed by Ms. Kur. Do we want another $1.4 million dollar law suit in Charlevoix County? Ms. Kur has had her day in public office and has shown us what she is capable of.

Please vote for Roy C “Joe” Hayes on Nov. 4 and keep Ms. Kur in private practice in Petoskey.

John E. Haggard




Voters will choose a new Circuit Court Judge for Charlevoix County in the upcoming election. I am one of those voters. I am a retired lawyer and spent 18 years in the private practice of law and 18 years as a district judge in the 33rd Judicial District Court, all in Wayne County. I, like you, will decide which candidate will get my vote.

Highway signs, lawn signs, endorsements, political buttons, clever slogans, flyers and ads with warm family pictures can sometimes be distractions. Often they don’t help in deciding the important qualities

that we should be looking for in candidates for a Judgeship. It certainly would be easy to just count all the signs, compare the numbers and cast our vote for the winner of the “sign contest.” Others might vote for the candidate that had the fewer signs, obviously because we’re all tired of the signs, and we know that the only winner is the company that printed the signs.

Judicial endorsements are interesting. During my 18 years as a District Judge I received many requests to endorse candidates for Judgeships. I would only give my endorsement to a judge seeking reelection, and only if I knew that the judge had a strong work ethic, maintained high standards of personal and professional conduct and was a student of the law. I generally declined to give an endorsement to a candidate seeking an open seat, such as in this election. Why, because it is very similar to going on a blind date. You know how blind dates start, with someone telling you all the wonderful qualities of your future date, but with no mention of a single negative and certainly nothing about convictions, lawsuits, suspensions or anti-social conduct. Let’s face it, it’s hard to know the true personal and professional qualities of a person that you hardly know.

In this judicial race each candidate has received endorsements from a lot of Judges. Probably the important thing is to try to separate the endorsements into those that truly know the candidates, personally and professionally, including their ethics, careers and personal lives. The open seat in this election is as a result of the retirement of judge Richard M. Pajtas, circuit judge. Judge Pajtas is a special person and one of the most respected circuit judges in Michigan. When choosing between

the candidates, consider casting your vote for the candidate that would best continue the standards that judge Pajtas has maintained over his judicial career.

The candidates are Roy Hayes and Mary Beth Kur. Both of the candidates are good lawyers. Both have good friends helping them. I have given my endorsement to Roy Hayes and will be giving him my vote.

Roy Hayes had a strong mentor, his father, Roy C. Hayes. He grew up in a family where the father was the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, appointed by President Reagan. His father was the chief law enforcement officer to enforce the laws of the United States in both criminal and civil lawsuits. His father was an extraordinary leader and public servant. On his retirement from Federal service, father and son practiced law together in this area. The important factor is that Candidate Roy Hayes could observe and learn how to be a good lawyer, an effective leader, tough when needed, effective under pressure and work cooperatively with staff and employees.

Mary Beth Kur was an Assistant Prosecutor and an elected Prosecutor for Charlevoix County. She supervised a wide variety of cases and as Prosecutor held a leadership role in County Government. Her conduct toward employees and staff led to lawsuits against her, individually, and against Charlevoix County that were filed and conducted in the very Circuit Court that she now wants to return to as a Circuit Judge.

The area newspapers provided coverage of the details of the lawsuits and of her conduct and it was a sad part of the history of Charlevoix County and damaged the reputation of the legal community. More importantly, the newspaper stories and court proceedings showed that Mary Beth Kur’s conduct caused long term damage to members of her staff.

Before I wrote this letter I visited the County Clerk’s office to read parts of the Court file in just one of the cases, a combined File # 03-1833-19-CZ and File #03-1838-19-CZ. What I read in the case file was disturbing. The case goes back to 2004, and was started by 2 women employees of the County Prosecutor’s office, working under the leadership and supervision of Mary Beth Kur. You can also visit the Clerk’s office and read the details. A jury trial was held and the jury rendered a verdict on May 12, 2005 in favor of both of the employees, requiring Mary Beth Kur and Charlevoix County to pay $505,713.65 to one woman and $552,069.72 to the other woman, plus costs, interest and fees. I haven’t

mentioned the names of the employees as they have suffered enough as victims. There are 2 other cases.

A Judge does more than just listen and decide cases. Circuit Judges also have employees and staff and must have leadership qualities. More importantly, a Circuit Judge, in deciding issues and cases must provide direction and leadership to litigants that appear before the Court. Conversely, for a Judge to be effective, the legal community and litigants should respect the Judge. The Judge must, in turn earn the respect. Seldom is a Judge respected when their past conduct has earned them ridicule.

Ironically, the new Circuit Judge will also be presiding over similar cases involving issues of employer misconduct toward employees and staff, and I will be voting for Roy Hayes to be the Circuit Judge to decide those cases.

Donald L. Swank

Retired District Judge



I want a judge with good character.

My vote is for the candidate that is respectful, honest and has no agenda

but to be fair and run an honest campaign, and in the end, run a fair and

honest courtroom. That candidate is Joe Hayes.

To Joe’s credit, he has taken the high road while the opponent is wallowing in the mud.

Joe has refrained from getting involved in the nasty dialogue between his opponent and a certain blogger out of Antrim County.

I totally respect law enforcement, and have spoken to current lawmen in our county that support Joe Hayes. As Charlevoix’s next circuit judge, I believe Joe will be objective and allow everyone to be heard. My vote is for Joe Hayes for circuit judge

Bob Bobowski

Boyne City



As an outside observer with strong ties to the Charlevoix community, I cannot help but wonder why there has not been stronger and more honest coverage of the circuit court judge election in Charlevoix County. (SEE STORY “KUR, HAYES EXCLUSIVE” ON PAGE ONE OF THE WEDNESDAY OCT. 29 EDITION OF THE BOYNE CITY GAZETTE) Normally I would not take issue with local election coverage, but this particular race is worth examining because misinformation seems to be clouding what should be an otherwise easy choice based on the clearly superior experience of Mary Beth Kur. While recently visiting the area during the Apple Festival, I noticed some absolutely ridiculous flyers being circulated about Ms. Kur. The information being shared in these flyers was so egregiously offensive, it is unbelievable that the other candidate, Roy C. “Joe” Hayes has not publicly disavowed the indecent and inaccurate statements that were made in support of his campaign.

Furthermore, and perhaps most disturbingly, Mr. Hayes has not paid payroll taxes for his business and denied doing so when interviewed. Although he later noted that he misunderstood the question, the fact remains that Mr. Hayes ignored his legal obligation to pay taxes for his business on more than one occasion. Mr. Hayes’ campaign website states: “In order for the people to trust the legal system, we must have judges who not only understand and follow the law without influence from personal bias, but we must have judges who also respect the community.” Mr. Hayes actions in his business and his lack of action in the face of disgusting assertions about his opponent clearly indicate how he measures up against his criteria for what is needed in a judge: that he either does not understand the law, or he chooses not to follow it, and he does not show proper respect for his community. Clearly Ms. Kur is the right choice.

Thomas Cunningham



Joe Hayes is my choice for Circuit Court Judge. Here’s why. 1. Integrity, Industry and a Fair Mind for dispute resolution. I have known Joe for 20 years as a fellow lawyer. I put Integrity, Industry and a Fair Mind ahead of competence, which I will get to in a moment, because Integrity, Industry and a Fair Mind are the most important qualities I look for in a judge. During my 45 years practicing law, I have met few judges that hold these qualities which we all expect but seldom experience. Often, lawyers who can’t make it in private practice run for judge and win. This is one reason our legal system is broken in our country. 2. Competence. Joe has practiced in Charlevoix, out of Charlevoix, downstate, upstate and in both state and federal courts. Among his notable accomplishments are successful trials in state AND federal courts, including appeals in the Michigan Court of Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. And, he graciously accepted appointment as the Public Administrator for Charlevoix County.

So, there you have it. 1. Character. 2. Competence. And now, No. 3 is up to us Vote for Joe Hayes for Circuit Court Judge. Dan Hales.

Dan Hales




Gallup polls (www.gallup.com/poll/15370/party-affiliation.aspx) consistently show more voters self-identify as neither Republicans nor Democrats than as either. It’s still true, despite minimal coverage of alternatives, and big-money scare-tactic campaigns leaning on us to lean towards their preferred lesser evils. If We the People vote for what we want, we can get it.

I’m running to become Attorney General. Visit www.facebook.com/jalp4thePeople to learn about my views, my values, and how I’d do the job For the People. One example: a case I’ve taken to the state Supreme Court to protect the Constitutional rights of voters signing election petitions. (The incumbent AG’s office has appeared against me. So have two big law firms.) The page also has links to information about other candidates from my own Green Party, three other alternative parties, and some independent (“No Party Affiliation”) candidates.

Voting your hopes may not change everything. But not voting them won’t change anything.

John Anthony La Pietra