- Associated Press - Thursday, July 14, 2016

BAY CITY, Mich. (AP) - A man convicted of sex crimes and ordered to register as a sex offender wants to be Bay County’s sheriff - and under Michigan elections law it’s legal for him to seek the office.

Kenneth Zolnierek is a write-in candidate for the post this fall, The Bay City Times reported (https://bit.ly/29UqcHL ) Thursday.

Zolnierek, 52, was convicted in 1994 of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in Alpena County. He also served prison time after pleading no-contest to a 2008 charge of distributing or promoting child sexually abusive material in Bay County.

Spokesman Fred Woodhams said that outside of “fraud or deceit,” the Michigan Department of State is unaware of laws that prevent someone convicted of crimes from running for public office.

Bay County Corporation Counsel Director Amber Davis-Johnson also told the newspaper that she believes Zolnierek is eligible to run for sheriff and that “offenses involving theft, embezzlement, or uttering and publishing; basically, crimes of deceit” preclude eligibility.

In the 1994 case, Zolnierek told the newspaper he was urinating outside a bar and said something lewd to a woman who had two children in her car.

“I was young, dumb and stupid,” he said. “That wasn’t right, and I was drinking. I quit drinking. I want to try to better myself and the community.”

But state Corrections records show the two convictions stem from incidents two months apart.

About 14 years later, police in Bay City found photos in Zolnierek’s home of him touching the clothed breast of a 16-year-old girl, according to the newspaper. His then-fiancee, who was 17, also gave investigators sexually explicit photos.

“I used to own a company called Bad Kitty Productions and what we done is made calendars for mechanic shops, welding shops, all that stuff,” Zolnierek told the newspaper.

He also said an employee took some photos which were not meant to be seen by others.

Bay County Sheriff John Miller is not seeking re-election. Others in the race include county Undersheriff Troy Cunningham, Pinconning police Sgt. Terry Spencer, retired deputy Robert C. Lee and Jason Holsapple.

Zolnierek said he wants to “make the streets safer and people feel more at home so they don’t have to lock their doors.”


Information from: The Bay City Times, https://www.mlive.com/bay-city

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