4 write-ins look to unseat Sparta councilman accused of soliciting teen for sex

Posted at 6:21 PM, Oct 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-22 18:21:11-04

SPARTA, Mich. --  A candidate running unopposed for a Village of Sparta council seat is facing opposition from four other candidates. This comes after Ryan Hayes was charged with a felony, accused of trying to solicit a teenage girl for sex.

A write-in candidate is the only way of unseating the incumbent. Four write-ins have made their intentions known and are vying for the seat currently held by Hayes. Christopher Anton, Tim Kline, Robert Carlstrom, and Warren Hill are all vying for the Village of Sparta council. The Sparta Township clerk says it's unusual to have so many write-ins.

“It would be nice to see someone qualified get in the position. I think that’s the general consensus that most of the write-ins are just concerned citizens of Sparta and want to see a good candidate with good intentions get in the seat,” says Sparta Township clerk Marcy Savage.

Hayes was arrested on Sept. 26 after investigators say he tried meeting up with what he thought was a 14-year-old girl, but who was really a Kent County Sheriff's Deputy. The arrest sparked the fresh round of write-ins.

“As a Village based on principle alone we have to stand up and try to do something about this and at the very least we have to try and get the information out to people,” says Julie Gahagan, a Sparta business owner.

The write-ins have been taking their message to social media to get the word out. Defeating someone running unopposed won't be easy.

“It’s difficult to win as a write-in candidate, you have to have a really good campaign," says Gahagan.

There are around 2,800 voters in the Village of Sparta, but the Township clerk says around 400 of them vote absentee ballot and those were sent out before the write-ins became official.

If you plan on voting for a write-in candidate you have to put their name on the line and fill in the bubble.