Snyder calls for special election after lawmaker’s suicide

Rep. John Kivela
An undated photo of Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, courtesy Michigan House Democrats.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is calling for a special election to fill the seat of a lawmaker who committed suicide.

A special primary will be held Aug. 8 for the seat of former Rep. John Kivela, a Marquette Democrat. A special general election is set for Nov. 7.

The winner will serve the remainder of a two-year term.

Kivela killed himself May 9 in his house near the Capitol after he was arrested the previous night for suspected drunken driving.

The Detroit Free Press says that at one point during the arrest, an officer stopped Kivela from walking into traffic on busy U.S. 127 and Kivela said his life was over. Sheriff Lawrence Jerue says officers believed Kivela was talking about his political career. He says there wasn’t a specific suicide threat to justify keeping him in custody for a mental-health assessment.

The newspaper said it obtained records Thursday from the Clinton County sheriff’s department.

Snyder said Thursday that it is important to mourn and also make sure Kivela’s constituents have representation.

One of Kivela’s bills passed the House this week and moves to the Senate for further consideration.