Candice Miller wins nasty, expensive fight to run Macomb County's sewers

Nov 9, 2016

After 24 years, Macomb County has a new public works commissioner: retiring Republican Congresswoman Candice Miller.

The race for that typically low-profile, decidedly un-glamorous job got nasty--and expensive—this year.

Democrat Anthony Marrocco has been Macomb’s public works commissioner for 24 years.

The job description is all about managing sewers and storm drains. But the commissioner also controls important construction permits, and some very large county contracts.

Marrocco had built a reputation as a savvy operator and prolific fundraiser. And he’d never faced much opposition before Miller announced she was stepping down from a safe, 14-year stint in Congress to challenge him.

Miller quickly secured the support of Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, a Democrat who nonetheless campaigned fiercely against Marrocco.

They blasted Marrocco for alleged “pay-to-play” politics—bolstered by a late-breaking revelation of a wide-ranging investigation into Macomb County municipal corruption

Marrocco shot back, accusing Miller of taking money from the Koch brothers, and having a poor voting record on environmental issues.

Together, the two candidates raised nearly $3 million in the fight for a county office, with Marrocco out-fundraising Miller by about 2-to-1.

But in the end Miller, riding a wave of support for Donald Trump in Macomb County, bested Marrocco by a healthy margin, 54-45%.