First candidate files to fill Courser's seat

LAPEER COUNTY (WJRT) - (09/14/15) - The first candidate has filed to replace a Mid-Michigan lawmaker caught up in a sex scandal, but the Lapeer County Clerk's Office expects more entries as the deadline approaches.

His name is Chris Tuski and he's new to politics.

Tuski owns a farm in Hadley Township, but makes his living as an automotive engineer.

"I've worked for General Motors, I've worked for Chrysler, two very large organizations within the state and really I've been building relationships within that, the whole time," Tuski said.

The Republican newcomer hopes to fill the 82nd State House seat left vacant when Todd Courser resigned last Friday following the scandal over his extra marital affair with then-colleague Cindy Gamrat.

Tuski, who's almost 54 years old, talked about his priorities.

"We really need to have somebody who returns trust and integrity into that office, I mean, it's kind of a sad situation," he said.

Another focus will be digging into the details of the state's budget.

"I really want to understand where our tax dollars are being spent," Tuski said.

Tuski's name will appear on the Nov. 3 special primary election ballot, and the Lapeer County Clerk's Office expects more to join him.

"I'm sure some people are just waiting to see who files, and then they will wait, and like I say, they have until 4 o'clock on Friday and they do have to file it in our office," said Mishelle Bicknell, the chief deputy clerk in Lapeer County.

To be on the ballot, a candidate has to either pay a $100 filing fee and complete paperwork or collect between 200 and 400 signatures from registered voters.

Tuski was the first person through the door Monday morning, and that was by design.

"I'm very task-oriented, get the job done. I mean, I'm a very, very hard worker. If I decide I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it," Tuski said.

There's only a short window to get your name on the ballot. You have to file by 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18.

After the special primary election Nov. 3, top candidates will move on to the special general election March 8.

While people look to fill Courser's seat, Courser and Gamrat's time in the spotlight is not over just yet.

Monday, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette spoke about the case.

Schuette says a joint investigation is being conducted by his office and the Michigan State Police. They're looking for any misuse of taxpayer dollars.

We have also learned a search warrant has been issued to look at Courser's cell phone records.

A Lapeer County judge says he issued the warrant last week as part of the MSP investigation.

A detective with the Capitol Security division in Lansing wants to take a closer look at the phone records, too, to find out how it was paid for and when it was purchased. GPS locations for the phone are also being traced.

Schuette says his office got involved on Sept. 4, a week before Courser resigned from his seat and Gamrat was expelled.

"We will have a thorough and extensive investigation without fear or favor, period, and if there are laws broken, then we'll take the steps. But beyond that, we don't comment on the specifics or details of any investigation," Schuette said.

There is no word yet on when the investigation will wrap up.

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