Hemingsen leads judge vote, will face Dunne in November election

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 2:52 pm on Monday, August 11, 2014

Kathleen Dunne

Judge Donald Hemingsen

STANTON — Montcalm County 64B District Court Judge Donald Hemingsen easily took the majority of the votes in Tuesday’s primary election.

The longtime judge was challenged for his seat on the bench by Greenville attorney Kathleen Dunne and Stanton attorney Ronald Finegood.

Hemingsen garnered 3,322 votes, or 61 percent. Dunne came in second place with 1,160 votes, or 21 percent, meaning she will face off against Hemingsen in November’s election. The judge’s seat is a nonpartisan position.

Finegood earned 893 votes, or almost 17 percent.

Hemingsen, 64, has been District Court judge for almost 18 years. He previously practiced law in Stanton from 1978 to 1996. He said if re-elected, he will continue to meet the challenge of forced staff reductions in District Court brought about by budget cuts. He says he will do this by improving efficiency and joining with other nearby courts to share resources and better deliver services.

“I want to thank everyone who supported me with their work and their financial contributions,” said Hemingsen from his home in Sheridan on Tuesday night. “I especially want to thank the voters. Obviously this race is not over with. We’re just going to build on this and continue into the fall election.”

Dunne, 54, is an attorney who specializes in bankruptcy, estate planning and Social Security disability. She’s been practicing law for more than 18 years.

“I am grateful to the people who got out and voted,” she said on Tuesday night. “I’m heartened by the fact that if you were to add me and Finegood as the anti-Hemingsen camp, the ratio is 39  to 61 (percent). I see that as an approachable goal. I don’t see that as out of reach.”

Dunne said she plans on continuing to try to educate the community about her idea for creating a teen court in District Court. She pointed out there are more than 1,100 teen courts in the United States, including 14 in Michigan.

“I’m looking forward to trying to get the message out so we can at least have a fair dialogue about issues,” she said.

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