PRIMARY ELECTION: Five candidates seek election to Isabella County Probate Court

Candidates Stuart Black, Becky Bolles, Matthew Hagen, Nick Wood and Sara Spencer-Noggle court local voters


Isabella County Trial Court often gets the most community attention as it hears criminal matters that happen in the county. By deciding estate cases and granting adoptions, Probate Court also directly impacts families in important ways.

Probate judges hear estate matters and guardianships for those with disabilities, children and others who require a guardian. Probate court also decides the handling of deeds, records and adoptions. Voters in the Aug. 7 primary election will choose one candidate to serve a 6-year term on the court. 

Five candidates appear on the non-partisan section of the primary ballot. The candidates include:

• Stuart Black worked as the Senior Assistant Prosecutor for Isabella County for ten years. He graduated from Cooly Law School. 

“As the Senior Assistant Prosecutor, I have spent the last 12 years fighting for victims and protecting our community, but I have always felt a need to do more," Black said. "Probate Court is the ‘helping court.’ As Probate Judge I would have an opportunity to make decisions that hold individuals accountable, while also giving them an opportunity to improve their quality of life.” 

For more information about Black visit his website.

• Becky Bolles has a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Alma College. She then earned her law degree from Valparaiso University.

Later, Bolles became a partner in Hall & Bolles, P.C. 

"Probate covers sensitive matters requiring compassion and fairness. By continuing the current programs, adding the use of mediation, resolving frivolous matters swiftly, and using restorative justice in our delinquency proceedings, we can get families communicating again," Bolles said. “By increasing communication and restoring bonds to each other and the community, we can strengthen our individuals, families, and Isabella county.”

For more information about Bolles visit her website

• Mathew Hagen received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Wabash College. Later, he earned a Juris Doctor from Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

Hagen works as Juvenile Referee, or friend of the court. Previously, Hagen worked as a law clerk for the Isabella County Trial Court starting in 2009. 

“I’m running for Probate Judge because I’ve committed my life to strengthening our community’s families. I preside over hundreds of probate cases a year that concern juvenile delinquency and abuse and neglect,” Hagen said. “I vehemently believe that if we dedicate our time and resources to our families, we’ll successfully reduce recidivism, curtail substance abuse and affirm this county’s amazing commitment to its families.”

For more information about Hagen visit his website.

• Nick Wood earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Michigan State University. Wood then earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Detroit Mercy. 

Wood currently works for Isabella County friend of the court referee and as a juvenile referee and magistrate. In the past Wood worked for Hall & Bolles.

“I want to be Probate Judge of Isabella County because I want to make a positive difference for our citizens by representing our community and by doing what is best for our families,” Wood said. “Generally speaking, I believe that our Probate Judge should be rooted in community, focused on families and an experienced decision maker.”

for more information about Wood visit his website

• Sara Spencer-Noggle has bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in political science and from Central Michigan University. Spencer-Noggle has a law degree from Michigan State University. 

After graduating, Spencer-Noggle worked under then Gov. Jennifer Granholm in the legal division. She then worked as a rehearing attorney in the Michigan Court of Appeals. 

Spencer-Noggle has served as a member of Union Township’s Zoning Board Authority, Planning Commission and Economic Development Authority. She also acts as the administrator for the Isabella County Commission’s Ad Hoc Committee on Indigent Defense.

“The Probate Judge must be fair and impartial and treat everyone equally under the law," she said. "She should also remember that, during hard times, the people in her courtroom may need a ‘hand up’ to succeed. I am running for Probate Judge because I am keenly aware of the needs of people who are at their most vulnerable times."

For more information about Spencer-Noggle visit her website