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Turnout was light in St. Joseph County primary elections with just a handful of races

Jennifer Weingart/WVPE

Turnout was light Tuesday in area primary voting, with only a handful of contested races.

In one of the higher-profile races in St. Joseph County, Democratic State Senator David Niezgodski beat county Treasurer Tim Swager 62 to 38%. Niezgodski’s win came despite news in recent weeks that he paid a female employee of his plumbing business in 2017 to settle a sexual harassment complaint.

The only Democratic candidate to publicly criticize Niezgodski for the case, besides Swager, was Jenn Shabazz. She defeated Jason Piontek 58 to 42% to win the St. Joseph County Council District D nomination.

Democrat Rafael Morton has held the seat for 30 years but has opted to run for county commissioner in November, in a newly drawn district that leans heavily Democratic.

The Republican Party has not yet slated a candidate to face Shabazz in the General Election.

Shabazz says she worked hard knocking on doors and meeting voters.

"I'm so thankful, right, for every single person that came out and volunteered, and donated, and called me, and encouraged me, and walked with me, and drove me, and made my dinner, and just supported me in this campaign through the whole thing, because we were truly a grassroots campaign," Shabazz said.

In other county council races, Republican Andy Rutten beat Kent Hizer, and Republican incumbent Randall Figg defeated Chris Verash.

In the only county commissioner primary race, Incumbent Republican Tony Hazen held off challenges from Tom McCormick and Maggie Demaegd, winning just 42 more votes than McCormick.

Statewide, U.S. Senator Mike Braun defeated five opponents in the Republican primary for governor. Braun won 39% of the vote. The next closest candidate was Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch with 22%. Former Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill, who had his law license suspended for groping females at a party, won the least votes with 4%.

Parrott, a longtime public radio fan, comes to WVPE with about 25 years of journalism experience at newspapers in Indiana and Michigan, including 13 years at The South Bend Tribune. He and Kristi live in Granger and have two children currently attending Indiana University in Bloomington. In his free time he enjoys fixing up their home, following his favorite college and professional sports teams, and watching TV (yes that's an acceptable hobby).