A write-in candidate for Ionia County Sheriff spent Election Day in Ionia County Jail after violating probation from a drunk driving arrest last November.
According to court documents, Otto Christensen, 68, has violated probation three times since June 27, 2012. Those violations stemmed from failures to submit to drug and alcohol tests.
159 votes were cast for the “write-in” spot on the Ionia ballot. That’s .65% of the 24,468 total votes made for sheriff.
Otto’s daughter Cathy says her dad ran for sheriff and lobbied for the job not because of a love of law enforcement, but because he wanted to see change in the only town he’s ever lived in.
“Not everyone in the town is happy with how the town is run and how things happen. He stuck his neck out there, I guess, for the little guy,” Cathy says.
She said he was just trying to make a statement, if possible.
“He said if he got 30 or 50 votes, he would have been happy, he was hoping to make a statement to whoever won.”
Cathy says her father is a lifelong Ionia resident. He’s been a landlord there for more than 40 years, and is a retired General Motors worker.
She acknowledged her father’s court record, but says Otto is sober and has been showing up for his drug and alcohol tests. She says her dad is trying to accommodate for his own busy schedule by showing up 30 minutes before his given time.
“He’s going twice a day, he’s not drinking…he’s passing. But apparently he’s not in their window. There seems to be a lot of nit-picking, and I don’t get why you have to nit-pick on a 70-year-old man,” she said.
Otto Christensen will remain in Ionia County Jail on $50,000 bond. Cathy says she can’t afford to bail her dad out.
Christiansen is set to be back in court on November 20, 2012.