Candidates in contested township board races in Ionia and Montcalm counties were asked the following questions:
1. Name, age and city/village/township of residence?
2. Current employment (or former employment, if retired)?
3. What qualifications do you have that would effectively serve and benefit your district if you are elected to this position?
4. What sets you apart from your opponent(s)?
5. What goals would you like to accomplish during your term, if elected?
Here are their responses:
DANBY TOWNSHIP TREASURER
(primary winner will face Teresa Hillis, a Democrat, in November)
1. Erika Hoppes, 39, Danby Township (Republican).
2. State of Michigan (LARA) analyst.
3. My employment background has given me over 15 years of banking experience. Several of these years were spent working directly with townships to maximize their return on investments. I have served Danby Township since 2016. Most recently, I am serving as a member of the Planning Commission and a member of the Board of Review. My position on the Board of Review has allowed me the opportunity to build a relationship with the current township assessor.
4. I have a genuine interest in the success of Danby Township and the quality of life the township provides residents. I have always taken an interest in actively serving within my community. Whether serving on the board or volunteering as a coach to our community’s youth, I am happiest when serving those around me.
5. If elected, I will strive to maintain transparency to the residents of Danby Township and work hard to maximize return on investments. I look forward to building positive relationships with Danby Township residents. The departing treasurer has successfully served the residents of Danby Township for several years, my goal is to build on and continue the great job she has done.
Elizabeth Nurenberg (Republican): No response.
1. Margo Schafer, 37 years old, Danby Township (Republican).
2. The Daily News.
3. I have 10 years of experience working at our local credit union, 21 years of customer service and a degree in business administration.
4. My years of financial experience, I welcome the opportunity to serve in the financial sector again. I also have deep family roots in the township, with many family members still living in the township.
5. To streamline any processes that may need updating with my financial expertise. I will listen to our community members to ensure their voice is heard.
RONALD TOWNSHIP CLERK
Loree Reed (Republican): No response.
1. Arthur Pelon, 64 years old, lifelong Ronald Township, Ionia County resident (Republican).
2. Self-employed prior to retirement. Currently Ronald Township clerk and chairman of the Ionia Conservation District Board of Directors.
3. I am a graduate of Michigan State University’s Great Lakes Leadership Academy. I have completed two Department of Homeland Security courses, National Incident Management System and National Response Plan. Also, an accredited Michigan Department of State Election Official. Leadership experience that benefits our township include serving eight years as president of the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts, four years as president of the Michigan State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, two years as the Michigan Delegate in Washington, D.C., for the National Association of Conservation Districts, two years on the NACD Farm Bill Task Force in Washington, D.C., and four years as president of the Western Michigan Rifle and Pistol Club.
4. The experience and training from 30 years on the Township Board (27 years as clerk) should be considered. I realize that we are a small community that relies on state shared revenue and less than 1 mil of property taxes to provide our services. The burden and challenge of distributing a small community budget fall on the Township Board. Our current board excels in meeting that challenge. I have received several awards, including NWTF Conservation District Partner of the Year (National Award), MACD Director of the Year and NWTF Wild Turkey Woodlands Award for Michigan. I am a Life Member of the NRA, Life Member of the North American Hunting Club, Life Member of the Western Michigan Rifle and Pistol Club, Silver Life Sponsor of the NWTF, Member of the Ionia Fishing and Hunting Club and Ionia Moose Lodge Member.
5. I would like to see our current programs continue that we furnish to our residents; three brine treatments for our secondary roads, our clean up voucher program available to every household, our contractual ambulance service, support for our cemeteries and support for our Fire Department to the fullest extent possible. I would prefer to maintain our current excellent staff of Election Inspectors and Board of Review Members. I would also like to expand our search for professional grant writers that can research and apply for state and federal grants that may be available for our township. I support the continuation of local township government and will always be a strong advocate for the conservation and protection of our township’s natural resources.
EASTON TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE (2 seats open)
Cynthia Cotter (Republican): No response.
Erik Krieger (Republican): No response.
1. Lon MacLachlan, 73, Easton Township (Republican).
2. Part-time driver for Ionia Dial-A-Ride. Retired after 30 years in public health (25 years at the Ionia County Health Department) and eight years at Kent County Department of Public Works.
3. I presently serve on the Board of Directors at M1 Credit Union and have been on various committees and the board of M1 for 25 years. I am a member of the TPA Fraternal Order of Eagles, Ionia Moose, Knights of Columbus and SS. Peter & Paul Catholic Church. Involvement in these organizations has allowed me to deal with a variety of issues and problems.
4. Experience and involvement in the various organizations cited above have enabled me to deal with people on issues, people problems and policies.
5. Fair and equitable treatment of individuals regarding long- and short-term solutions to issues for the betterment of the township. Keeping in mind the financial stability of the township at all times.
1. Don Rittersdorf, 54 years old, Easton Township (Republican).
2. I am employed by Petersen Oil and Propane as the district manager for the Ionia location.
3. I have 22 years of management experience, as well as 24 years with serving Easton Township. I am aware of the needs of the township, the concerns of the residents, and how to best serve them while maintaining fiscal responsibility.
4. Experience — I have served as trustee for Easton Township for the past 24 years.
5. My goal is to represent the entire township equally and to see the township remain safe, healthy and prosperous for all constituents.
OTISCO TOWNSHIP SUPERVISOR
1. Francis L. Mason, 68, Otisco Township (Republican).
2. I have been involved in farming my whole life. I have owned and operated Mason Orchards since 1987. I have worked at Belding Area Schools for over 30 years. Fifteen of those were as a bus driver, retired in 2017. All 30 years I have worked as a game manager for fall and winter sports. Also, I have been an MHSAA registered official for 25 years.
3. I have served on the Otisco Township Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals for 24 years. This gives me the experience it will take to serve as supervisor.
4. I have 24 years of experience serving on township committees. I have worked with both past and current Otisco Township elected officials. It is important to know the history of events, issues, policies and procedures when serving as supervisor. I will make myself available to the citizens of the township by keeping regular hours at the hall. As a retired man and with my knowledge I have the time to serve. I think it is important to keep our township a place where people are proud to live.
5. I believe it is important for citizens to elect people who are familiar with the area they will serve. Citizens want their township officials to be fair, upfront, hardworking and approachable. One goal I have is to make sure that we are organized and ready when issues are brought to us. I will work to support the goals that are in our Master Plan. Through the jobs that I have had and the service I have given to Otisco Township, I have learned that I use common sense when making decisions that are best for the entire township. I know that I don’t make promises I can’t keep or statements I can’t back up.
Desmond Pike (Republican): Declined to participate in the questionnaire.
OTISCO TOWNSHIP TREASURER
1. Paula Byrne, 54, Otisco Township (Republican).
2. Healthcare Outsource Network.
3. Eight plus years experience as Otisco Township deputy treasurer, Otisco Township deputy supervisor and Board of Review experience.
4. Lifetime resident of Otisco Township.
5. To make changes within the treasurer’s office to better the residents of Otisco Township.
1. Cara Johnson, 45, Belding, Otisco Township (Republican).
2. Current elected treasurer for Otisco Township.
3. Four years of educational training courses specifically related to the treasurer position. Experience working with the banks for investment purposes. I have worked closely with Ionia County, the Road Commission, Planning Commission and many other agencies to further grow the township and benefit the residents.
4. Experience. I have been the current treasurer of the township board for four years now. I am dependable and dedicated to help the residents with any issues and do what is right for the township.
5. My number one goal is the roads. Since being elected, I have been passionate about making sure the roads in Otisco Township are kept up. I would also like to work on more modern technology for the township, being able to accept credit card payments, projector screen during meetings for the public to see documents and real-time updates on the website.
OTISCO TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE (2 seats open)
1. Joseph Borek, 43, Belding, Otisco Township (Republican).
2. Geoger Water Wells for 19 years, self-owned business for five years, Borek Service.
3. Attend all board meetings. I am on the Zoning Board of Appeals.
4. Working for the residents of Otisco Township. Help all board members as requested.
5. Change in game ordinances.
1. Gib Brown, 41, Otisco Township (Republican).
2. Assistant pastor, Ashley Baptist Church.
3. I have served similar positions on multiple non-profit boards and was in charge of a half-million-dollar budget for over five years. I have been an active member of Otisco Township for most of my life.
4. My family has been an integral part of the community for nearly a hundred years. I have a college degree and am nearing completion on a master’s degree. I am known for my helpfulness and integrity.
5. I am a big supporter of the farmers in our area and would like to see our roads improved. I would also like to see more businesses open or increased jobs in our community.
1. John Feuerstein, 70, Otisco Township (Republican).
2. I’m a self-employed cash crop farmer.
3. I have experience in local government as I previously served on the Keene Township Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Commission. For over 10 years, I served on the Ionia County Soil Conservation District. These experiences, as well as being a steward of the land, give me a unique perspective to benefit the residents of Otisco Township.
4. My depth of life experience sets me apart from my opponents. From being drafted into the Army, to taking over the family farm growing corn, soybeans and alfalfa, I have experienced and adapted in several situations working with all walks of life with varying personalities and situations.
5. Goals that I would like to accomplish include running township business efficiently and timely to benefit all residents of Otisco Township.
Shane McDonald (Republican): No response.
IONIA TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE (2 seats open)
(primary winners will face two Democrats, Sheri Lynn and Joseph Pecks, in November)
Mark Barna (Republican): No response.
Susan McCoy (Republican): No response.
Aric Pitchford: (Republican): Declined to participate in the questionnaire.
BELVIDERE TOWNSHIP SUPERVISOR
1. John W Anderson, 73, Belvidere Township (Republican).
2. Self-employed at Killer Bee Printing.
3. Four years on the Belvidere Township Board as supervisor, four years on the Belvidere Township Board as a trustee. Over 49 years of business ownership experience. Over 38 years of various boards.
4. I have spent the last four years as supervisor on the Belvidere Township Board. Previous four years as trustee on the Belvidere Township Board. Currently the liaison to the Fire Department. I believe my business and prior boards experience.
5. To discern the best use of township funds and spend wisely as a board. To find a solution to issues that occur. I will listen and work to solve any questions that arise. I will get back to anyone who contacts me.
1. Armon C. Withey, 73, Belvidere Township (Republican).
2. Retired from ConAgra Foods.
3. Trustee of Belvidere Township, president of Montcalm Township Association, member of Montcalm Planning committee, college degree in accounting.
4. Making friends at deferent levels of government.
5. Growing local businesses and getting new businesses to our economy and provide additional jobs for citizens. Improve our roads without tax increases.
BELVIDERE TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE (2 seats open)
Carolyn Kelsey (Republican): No response.
Andrew Reynolds (Republican): Declined to participate in the questionnaire.
1. Bennett “Ben” Reynolds, Six Lakes, Belvidere Township (Republican).
2. Semi-retired, currently working part-time at High Grade Materials, Six Lakes.
3. I’ve worked at the same location for 40 years, 20 as a truck driver and 20 years in a management position, managing two businesses for the same company.
4. I’ve lived and worked in Belvidere Township almost my entire life. Now that my family is grown and my work responsibilities have slowed done, it’s a good time for me to give back to the community. As a manager for two businesses, my background in business and customer service puts me in a good position to help our community.
5. To see our township be a fiscally sound and responsible community. Spending money where it needs to be spent, and saving where we can. We have to keep in mind what is best for the whole township and not just certain areas or people.
1. Patrick Stuller, 76, Belvidere Township (Republican).
2. Owner of Pigeon Creek Crafts since 2003.
3. 31 years in law enforcement, full and part-time. Foreman for Bierlein & Companies for 15 years. After retiring from Saginaw County Sheriff’s Department, I returned to Bierlein & Companies as a foreman for four more years. Army veteran 1962-1965.
4. Leadership qualities, capable of running a successful business. Good communication skills.
5. Would like to build a good rapport with the township residents and the township board.
CRYSTAL TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE (2 seats open)
1. Sherry Kutt, 66, Crystal Township (Republican).
2. Michigan Department of Corrections, retired 2016, 21 years of service.
3. I was appointed to this position in December 2018 to fill a vacancy. Since that time, my efforts have resulted in repairing the sidewalk on Lake Street, leasing the beach in 2019 and revitalizing the pickleball court at Noll Park. I initiated a process of seeking a cost-effective way to repair the 1962 portion of the Community Center roof to prevent further damage to the building. Being elected as trustee would allow me to continue work on this project as well as other community improvements. I bring a working knowledge of government and protocols to be followed to this position. I have several years of experience writing policies and procedures outlining standardized processes when obtaining bids for products or services. I will bring that knowledge to the board to establish administrative policies that will increase efficiency as well as reduce costs. Establishing policies will assist the current and future boards in obtaining competitive bids. When a product or service is needed to maintain township property I am very thorough and persistent. I do the necessary research, obtain answers and when possible provide a variety of options that would be more cost-effective to address the issue. I follow through until the project is completed.
4. I have over 18 months serving successfully as a trustee on the board. I regularly talk with residents and seek their input on how we might improve our township or what concerns they may have about the township. I look for ways we can improve safety and enjoyment for our citizens and to create a more inviting atmosphere for visitors. I am always interested in finding ways that will better our community, help local businesses and boost the economy. I work hard to be transparent and have no conflicts of interest. I spent 15 summers on Crystal Lake and have been a full-time resident for over 3 years. I bring historical knowledge of Crystal Township as well as an ability to envision the future.
5. The Crystal Township Board is responsible for the safety, health and enjoyment of our residents and visitors and these are my top priorities. I will continue to review how the township spends the residents’ tax dollars and make decisions that benefit the township as a whole. I will work to establish administrative policies to standardize and simplify our processes not only for the current board but future boards. This will provide a structure and more transparent process for boards to follow. I will continue to work to preserve all property the township currently owns and encourage the board to be more proactive, instead of reactive, in its maintenance. I will also look at ways the township can utilize the property we have to generate income or benefit residents and visitors alike. I feel it is important to not only look at what is best for the current community but also to preserve it for future generations.
1. Seth Andrew Lane, age not provided, Crystal (Republican).
2. Part owner of Crystal Box Office Theater.
3. I think I am a problem solver, I can identify a problem I feel needs to be fixed and do it in a cost-efficient manner.
4. I think all of us want fiscal responsibility open communication and total transparency. I think all who run for town council want to see Crystal grow and prosper. I am fairly new to Crystal and I think I bring a fresh perspective to see things and opportunities others might be overlooking. Others see an old building I see opportunity. Running the theater I know what it’s like to make hard decisions and difficult choices. Because we have always done things this way doesn’t work for me and I want to bring the town forward.
5. It will be exciting to see Crystal grow. Renovate the old school into a cost-efficient town hall everyone can be proud of. Seeing the Crystal beach being built. Watching the docks go in. Working on zoning that will protect individual freedom while still allowing Crystal to grow. My goal would be to be able to do this staying in budget benefiting Crystal and not raise taxes!
1. Roger Martin, 60, Crystal Township (Republican).
2. Retired State of Michigan supervisor and former business owner in Crystal Township
3. Having lived in this community for years, I have strong, established, positive relationships with many people of this community. I have participated in the Downtown Development Authority (DDA).
4. My family and I have resided in Crystal Township for over 29 years. I have been an active member of this community through regular attendance of township meetings and having awareness of current and previous township agenda related issues and topics. I have experience with managing difficult decisions, setting priorities, and effectively working with others for positive resolution. In business and through my work experience, I strongly believe that by being approachable, being present in the community, being a good listener, and providing follow-through is an essential element for success.
5. My interest lies in contributing to the good of this township. I would like to establish effective avenues to address community concerns/issues by establishing various committees that would encourage participation and increase the representation of all taxpayers within Crystal Township by providing people with a voice.
1. Diane E. Rydahl, 53, Crystal (Republican).
2. Co-owner/developer of Fairway Farms LLC.
3. I understand the roles and responsibilities of elected officials, see the potential, and have a vision of how we can work together to continue to grow/develop our community. As in the past, I will use my public relations skills to continue to advocate for both residents and businesses. I value and understand how vital local businesses are to the community.
4. Since my family owned the Crystal Golf Course for over 70 years, I gained a love for the community at a very young age. My husband and I became fully invested over four years ago when we chose Crystal as our primary residence & the location for our new business, Fairway Farms LLC Driving Range & Fairway Bungalow Vacation Rental. I participated/participating in the following: three township committees and currently chairing the Park Redevelopment Project Committee; engaging and collaborating with community and statewide stakeholders, develop and enhance community programs opportunities and policy; Crystal Township committees that seek to find solutions to our community needs; Crystal Community Center Committee which met for over a year to give the township board ideas/options for the present elementary school/community center. Facilitated two outside companies to speak to our committee about the process, procedures, and planning for development and funding for a project of this magnitude. From these groups, the committee selected Kingscott to be presented to the Township; and advocated for the placement of American flags on Crystal Township’s Main Street in 2018.
5. The development and implementation of a township master plan. This will allow the township to move forward with goals and objectives to create opportunities for our community as well as the abilities to apply for economic development grants at the state level. Protecting the Township’s greatest asset, Crystal Lake will also be one of the goals I set for myself and the township.
EUREKA TOWNSHIP SUPERVISOR
1. Les Lillie, 63, Eureka Township (Republican).
2. Retired from Road Commission for Montcalm County. Currently, code enforcement officer for the City of Greenville. Hobby farmer.
3. I have served on Eureka Charter Township board from 2000 until 2008 with being supervisor from 2004 until 2008. I currently serve on the Planning Commission just being appointed to my third term and being chosen as vice chairman this term.
4. I feel my years of service to Eureka Charter Township make me the better choice and I also follow a number of family members that also served in a number of positions for Eureka Charter Township. My father was a trustee from 1987 until his death in 2001. My mother served as treasurer and deputy treasurer for over 35 Years. My grandfather was supervisor from 1968 until his death in 1977.
5. I would like to continue building a good working relationship with the City of Greenville and continue an aggressive upgrade to our township roads. I would like to thank those in advance for supporting me in this election.
1. Darcia Kelley, 66, Eureka Township (Republican).
2. Currently, I am the director of Community Hope Christian Counseling Center. Previously I worked as marketing manager for GE Consumer Finance. I also taught in the Business Department at Montcalm Community College for 20 years.
3. Qualifications that I bring to the office show that I have a proven record of servant leadership. Master’s degree in management, Cornerstone University. Former trustee for Oakfield Township Board for multiple terms. Grant writer for area township fire departments. Desire to serve our country at the township level and do what I can to help residents of the township achieve goals. Successful business leader in the local community and in a global business
4. What sets me apart from my opponent is my education and continued proven ability to lead in a diverse environment. I have successfully taught business principals to all ages at the Community College and successfully used those principals in my own career. I am currently leading a business to serve those in our community while keeping the agency financially solvent during these changing times. Business decisions have been made by me to effectively lead here in the township and in previous positions I held at GE Consumer Finance Division. I also seek to work as a team player and will continue to work together with each elected individual that serves on the Eureka Township Board.
5. Some of the goals I would like to accomplish during this upcoming term are: Assist businesses to promote long-term growth in the township; help facilitate the building of additional affordable housing by working with developers; use existing funding to continue to improve our roads; and maintain our sound budget and financial standing
EUREKA TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE (4 seats open)
(primary winners will face Linda Weger, a Democrat, in November)
1. Jeremy Austin, 44, Eureka Township (Republican).
2. I’m a licensed contractor, constructing residential homes.
3. I have eight years on the board now and so there is experience in this position. I’m a common sense and straight-shooting guy and that is greatly needed as a township official. Being transparent is always at the top of my list.
4. What may set me apart is that I try to make my vote count for the safety of our residents first. I also believe in the liberties and freedoms of our residents. I am against burdensome regulation that serves only to frustrate our residents. I try to encourage our residents to come and participate in our meetings.
5. One goal I have to raise awareness of those things that are causing almost double the fatal accidents that we have compared to other counties around Montcalm. I believe bringing facts to the residents’ attention, could reduce that issue. I do realize that not all the accidents that happen in Montcalm are actually residents. There are many passing through our county, but to be informed will only help.
Tim Johnson (Republican): No response.
1. C. Brad Kelley, 59, Eureka Township (Republican).
2. Work at High Grade Materials, Greenville. Have been employed there over 30 years
3. Experienced township board member in Oakfield Township and currently two terms in Eureka Township. Well known for my integrity, dependability, caring individual and trustworthiness. Ability to get along well with others and be a leader asked. Open to working with diverse groups and can relate well to all age groups
4. What sets me apart from others that are running for office is my willingness to be a servant leader. I am here to work for the people of Eureka and not here for just my own agenda. I have eight successful years of service on the Eureka Township Board and look forward to continued service to my community. I make sure I do needed research on all issues that come before the board so I can have an informed and fair vote on issues brought before the township.
5. I would like to see the township have a good working relationship with the City of Greenville. Would like to see continued growth in our township with a balanced budget. Keep a high standard of law enforcement and fire protection for our community.
1. Kristen Lower, 28, Greenville, Eureka Township (Republican).
2. While currently on a career sabbatical to raise our three children, I am a Licensed Veterinary Technologist (LVT).
3. I hold a Bachelor’s of Science from Michigan State University. I worked my way through school gaining many years of experience working for small business owners. I have seen the difficulties employers face while operating their businesses and also challenges presented by local restrictions and policies. During the past few years, I have spent countless hours discussing community politics and becoming familiar with local levels of government. I bring a different perspective to the board and hope to represent the views of young families in our community.
4. I am the youngest candidate seeking a trustee seat, and also the only one with a young family. I believe I would bring a fresh voice and energy to the table, with new ideas to help bring positive change to the community.
5. One of my primary goals is to stay out of the way of small businesses. I would like to encourage entrepreneurial growth in our community and try to help businesses navigate our local government to give them the best chance at success. I also would like to see a community-wide recycling availability/opportunity and possibly a unified trash service for the entire township. Like many of you have experienced, our home-owners insurance premiums recently increased due to a drop in the insurance rating of our local fire department. I will investigate possible solutions to improving the quality of our local fire department and water accessibility in the township. Lastly, I want to continue the atmosphere of cooperation and goodwill among board members, and keep our budget in the black.
1. Elaine Pendrick, 84, Greenville, Eureka Township (Republican).
2. I am retired. I worked at Greenville Public Schools as a secretary for over 20 years.
3. I have lived in Eureka Township for 62 years and have watched our area grow. When I worked for the school district I was known for being a well-organized person, could handle any task that I was asked to do, and I learned how to deal with difficult people. I have a lot of experience in dealing with people in a businesslike and fair way. I have been on Eureka Township Board for 12 years, so feel very qualified to continue. Several of my accomplishments: Marty Posekany and I applied and received for our play yard in the back of the hall from the Greenville Area Foundation. I was responsible for starting our yard waste program in the township.
4. The wisdom I have due to my age. I feel it is important to have a variety of ages on the board.
5. Because of the growth that is happening in our area, I would like us to work well with the City of Greenville to our area an even better place.
Annette Fountain (Republican): No response.
1. Doreen Ann Tissue, 62, Evergreen Township, Sheridan (Republican).
2. My former employment was at Montcalm County DHS.
3. My qualifications that I have that would effectively serve and benefit my district are a combined 40 years of experience with clerical/office administrator/treasurer/legal secretary which includes working with the public, computer experience, accounting experience working with BS&A software and more. Also, experience working with confidential information.
4. I thoroughly enjoy working with people.
5. The goals that I would like to accomplish during my term would be to work efficiently with the assessor, trustees, township supervisor and township clerk and also assist the Evergreen Township Office to continue to grow. I am willing to learn new technology as it continues to change in order for me to do my job more efficiently.
Jay Edwards (Republican): No response.
1. Thomas Sova, 62, Fairplains Township. (Republican).
3. I have 12 years of experience serving in local government, while also serving six years as the Montcalm Townships Association president.
4. Although I don’t really know my opponent very well, while serving as Fairplains Township supervisor I have established a good working relationship with our county officials, other townships and members of our community.
5. To complete electronic cemetery records and keep township business running smoothly.
FERRIS TOWNSHIP CLERK
1. Teri Brecht, 52, Ferris Township (Democrat).
2. Currently employed at Sparrow Carson Hospital. Completion of a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration in December 2020.
3. In my current position at the hospital, I record minutes, organize meetings, host meetings, organize trainings and work with many organizations. I have multiple years in customer service. I enjoy team-focused roles. I am proficient in technology and verbal skills.
4. I am currently working as the Ferris Township clerk and I am enjoying learning all the aspects of this position and the community members I am meeting.
5. My goal is to learn more about our township, the people who live here and learn/advocate for what is best for our community.
1. Kathleen Gibson, 67, Ferris Township (Democrat).
2. Currently, I’m semiretired, self-employed as co-owner and accountant at Jacks SawMill. I also serve year-round as a volunteer coordinator with AARP Foundation TaxAide.
3. I earned my BSBA in accounting from Central Michigan University. Before I left to become a full partner in the sawmill, I held the position of inventory control at the Home Depot; before college, customer service rep with GTE. I volunteer as the local coordinator, instructor, and tax counselor with AARP Foundation TaxAide, working with the Montcalm County Commission on Aging, Montcalm County DHHS and United Way of Montcalm and Ionia Counties.
4. I would go back to honoring published office hours, for consistency and the convenience of township residents, cemetery researchers, historians, and township officials. The treasurer must help taxpayers understand their tax statements, who to contact to take action in case of problems or errors. With my training, I would be able to assist when called upon in the absence of the treasurer. Online Zoom meetings held at the township could be advertised better; meetings easily accessed, along with the meeting agendas as well as the final decisions reached. I can help the township become more technology-based, with an expanded website, making resources accessible to more residents, by being open to changes, and using the skills I’ve acquired volunteering. Our cemetery procedures need some updates, including the completion of digitalizing plot records. As a volunteer for Find A Grave, I believe my interest would be helpful in assisting individuals in purchasing cemetery plots, understanding the cemetery rules or helping resolve problems that arise, as well as maintaining and correcting records. Elections are going to look a lot different in the future. As clerk, I would use my training in setting up layout, equipment, workers, acquiring PPE and other safety measures, for the safety of taxpayers and workers alike. I understand the need for accuracy and being careful with how township dollars are spent. Changes to the Small Business Personal Property tax took some of the tax burdens of our own business, but the exemption for small businesses also reduced the available funds for our township.
5. Montcalm County plat map online shows Ferris Township owns five parcels: Ferris Township Hall, Ferris Township Cemeteries on Crystal Road and E. Klees Road, and three lots on Lake Stevens. I could help with utilizing Michigan Township Parks Grants to upgrade the cemetery for possible use as a park, possibly paved trails, that would enhance funerals, and encourage walking and bike riders. Searching for Ferris Township Cemetery brings up tiny E. Klees Road Cemetery, instead of the main cemetery on Crystal Road. I would like to see some action on those issues. Except for years as an Air Force spouse, I grew up and again live on Douglas Road near the edge of the township. I would be proud to serve as Ferris Township Clerk. Thank you for your vote.
MAPLE VALLEY TOWNSHIP
1. David Kraft, 67, Trufant (Republican).
2. Die and machine designer, lifelong farmer.
3. The ability to look and listen to all sides before forming an opinion.
4. My age — I have watched a lot of people do this job. I have seen what they did right and wrong.
5. Make sure everyone is treated equally and fair.
Michael Larsen (Republican): No response.
1. John Schwandt, 50, Trufant, Maple Valley Township (Republican).
2. Co-owner of County House Assisted Living and the Maple Valley Market. I also work for Carr Farms in Lakeview.
3. I have been involved in different aspects of the township for over 15 years. I am currently serving as chairman of the Planning Committee, where we just updated our master plan. I also serve on the board of review as chairman. I have served the community for over 15 years on the fire department, currently serving as a lieutenant. I helped with the merger of Coral and Trufant becoming Maple Valley Fire Department. Then, more recently, with the joining of the Lakeview District Fire Department. I’ve also served six-plus years on the board at Community First Federal Credit Union and worked within the township for many years on the road committee, the complex committee and others. I am also responsible for the renting of the old bus garage for storage each year. My time served as trustee and then as appointed supervisor makes me very familiar with the workings of the township and with the decision-makers within the county.
4. Many years of volunteering and serving the citizens of Maple Valley Township. Being self-employed, within the township, I have always made it a point to be available, accessible and inviting to everyone. You can always contact me by phone — text (231) 349-1943 — or email firstname.lastname@example.org or in person. I make it a point to always respond back as soon as possible. Growing up in Trufant and working at my Grandfather’s elevator in Coral has made me very familiar with both villages and the people. My time on the fire department and township board has put me in good communication with many local, county and state officials (fire departments, EMS, police, board of commissioners, road commission, etc.)
5. My main goal is to improve communication. I will lead by example and get everyone on the board to reply back to residences in a timely manner. I would like to develop a five- to 10-year plan for road maintenance and improvements. I will keep working to improve our ordinances in accordance with our master plan and get back to improving our cemeteries. Talking with other township officials, I would like to see what other things we can do together to improve services and make things more cost-effective.
MONTCALM TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE (2 seats open)
(primary winners will face Steve Sprague, a Democrat, in November)
Brian Cousineau (Republican): No response.
1. Edward J. Hansen, 38, Montcalm Township (Republican)..
2. Volunteer fireman for Montcalm Township for 14 years. Family owned and operated farmer my whole life. School bus driver for Greenville Public Schools for four years.
3. Family man with good Christian faith. My knowledge of Montcalm Township and its residents. I am a member of the ZBA and have knowledge of our township ordinance.
4. I have always wanted to get involved in helping my township. Running for township office allows me to get further involved in the direction the township may take.
5. To share my knowledge of Montcalm Township and to help investigate and solve any situation that will develop and handle them with informed discussion.
1. Tim Rau, 70, Montcalm Township (Republican).
Note: Tim Rau’s name will appear on the primary ballot but he is moving out of the township and thus is no longer running for re-election.
3. Qualifications of any candidate would be a basic understanding of parliamentary procedures followed by the ability to effectively communicate with fellow board members and the residents that they represent while being respectful and understanding. Honesty and transparency should always be the core the foundation of anyone that is accepting the responsibility of being the spokesperson for the constituents of their district.
4. The value that was the driving force for myself during my term as trustee was putting people first and getting out and actually talking to the people while truly listening to their concerns. All too often it is the special interest groups that get the attention even though in many cases these special interest groups do not reflect the values and desires of the silent majority. I truly hope that whoever is elected as trustee to our township will continue to stand up to special interest groups that do not respect the values of our community.
5. My wife and I have recently made the difficult decision of putting our home up for sale. We have genuinely loved living on a lake in this area and have been fortunate enough to meet several people here that we can and will continue to call our friends. We will not be relocating within Montcalm Township, so I will not be running for reelection. Unfortunately, the primary ballots are already printed, with that said, I would like to officially endorse Ed Hansen as the Republican candidate for trustee.
PIERSON TOWNSHIP SUPERVISOR
1. Dan Buyze, 68, Pierson Township (Republican).
2. I am now retired. I worked at Steelcase for 28 years and held various positions in supervision and management within the Logistics/Distribution Department. In 2005, I retired from Steelcase and worked until last year as an independent transportation rep and logistic consultant.
3. Aside from my supervisory and management positions at Steelcase, I have the following experience: I led the effort to get the state to investigate PFAS contamination in the township. Now I am a member of the Governors MPART Citizens PFAS Advisory Work Group representing Montcalm County. Chair for the Pierson Committee of Community and Economic Development. Contributor to the updated Pierson Master Plan. President of the Big Whitefish Lake Association. Member of the Pierson Township Sewer Advisory Committee. Former member Kent County 641 Solid Waste Planning Committee (1990s). Former board member West Michigan Environmental Action Council (1990s). Former president of the Big Whitefish Lake Association (1990s).
4. I have a proven record of building coalitions within diverse groups and special interests to agree toward a common goal. As a member of the PFAS Citizens Advisor Workgroup, I am a main liaison between the state, industry and Township Board to ensure contamination plume boundary identification and subsequent clean-up plans are on track to ensure resident health and water resources are protected. Led the effort to create the first sewer district in Pierson Township. Led the effort to create the first lake management program within Pierson Township. Member of the State Forum to control the mute swan.
5. Make township functions process-oriented that will improve customer service, create sustainable practices and create a disciplined means for decision making. Protect the environment. We have many beautiful lakes, large forest areas and wetlands, all of which need our stewardship to protect from invasive species. Ensure we protect our groundwater. Maintain the “character” of the township through controlled growth to protect our farming culture while also providing business growth opportunities. Provide recreational opportunities for residents.
1. Bill Van Til, 73, Pierson Township (Republican).
2. For 43 years I worked at American seating in a variety of areas, retiring in 2011. Since 2017 I have served on numerous committees for Pierson Township. Parks and Recreation, zoning and the planning committee. On Jan. 2, 2019, I had the honor of becoming a supervisor for Pierson Township when the previous supervisor retired and I was unanimously selected by the board to take his place.
3. These last two years as supervisor have given me a wealth of knowledge and how townships are run. I have attended conferences and many Michigan Township Association sessions to gain more knowledge. My time as supervisor has been challenging and rewarding. I would love to be able to continue to serve the people of Pierson Township as their supervisor. I am a true Republican and I desire to serve the entire township to the best of my ability.
4. My experience as current supervisor, serving on township committees and living in Pierson Township for 50 years shows I am truly committed to the welfare of Pierson.
5. Pierson is a small township and we are dealing with state budget cuts. The board is responsible for budget oversight. In this term, I would love to continue to serve the people of Pierson with complete transparency and continue to monitor and ensure township finances are used to benefit the entire township.
PIERSON TOWNSHIP TREASURER
1. Kathy Hyrns, 66, Pierson Township (Republican).
2. I was elected Pierson Township’s treasurer in 2016. Former owner/operator of Family Hair Design for 33 years that I retired from in 2018. I was also an advocate for The Association For Children’s Mental Health for the 1990’s-2000.
3. I have a history of being in the business world and working with the public for over 40 years. I have valued experience in the last four years as treasurer of Pierson Township. I have settled each March with the county treasurer to the penny. The tax files, investments and monthly reconciliation audit reports verify my understanding of my fiscal responsibilities. I was able to securely invest our township funds to earn over $9,000 worth of interest last fiscal year to help reduce the burden on our taxpayers. I am experienced with our government software that we use (BS&A). I have a knowledge of the history and needs of our township. My dad Ken Mulholland served as a trustee in the late 1970s and early 1980s. My grandmother Bertine Mulholland donated the land on Cannonsville Road where our Township Hall is located. I’m a person of integrity. I support and am thankful for our United States Constitution. I’m conservative both fiscally and socially and I am a passionate supporter of life, the 2nd Amendment, veteran’s causes, hunting, fishing and farming, small business and environmental issues. These are very near and dear to my heart as my husband was a veteran of the Vietnam War and succumbed to the effects of Agent Orange in December 2019.
4. My experience is what sets me apart. My 33 years as a business owner/operator.This current term of serving as a member of the Township Board. Being the treasurer that understands and adheres to the statutory requirements of the office. I personally love meeting and serving the residents of Pierson Township and I would appreciate the opportunity to serve four more years as your treasurer. I am just a phone call away to help our residents or point them in the right direction to get their questions and concerns answered.
5. I will continue to hold officials and employees accountable for how our tax dollars are being spent. My short term goal is to keep Pierson Township fiscally solvent during this time of the pandemic and the uncertain times when having to make budget cuts due to our loss in state revenue sharing. Long term goals are to continue a relationship of public trust and to see Pierson Township grow and prosper for future generations to come with a safe environment.
1. Dora Schroeder, 54, Pierson Township (Republican).
2. I am retired from Continental Airlines.
3. I have 30-plus years of accounting related experience. Including tax preparation, budgeting, and managing cash flow. These core competencies along with my knowledge of township government operations, interpersonal skills and leadership abilities will serve my township well.
4. I understand the importance of having a competent local person as treasurer to not only act as the collector of taxes but be the bank for our township funds. My experience has taught me how important healthy communication is in building relationships and trust. I will use this experience to create working and personal relationships not only within our township and county but with other local townships and businesses as well. I feel our township deserves financial competence, strong communications skills and integrity from the treasurer’s office. I understand local issues and believe it’s crucial to be available at the township offices for all our citizens needs on a consistent and regular basis. I would like to open the treasurer’s office more than the currently held hours to give people more availability to their local elected officials. My vote as a board member will be with taxpayers’ dollars in mind! I will encourage citizens to participate in meetings, voice their concerns and be heard! I am listening!
5. I have a passion for community service! I believe elected officials should not only work hard at their statutory duties but go above and beyond. Become involved in the community they serve. Endorse local businesses’ and support community members. I hope to gain support on having more community outreach programs and community activities. I currently serve on the Community and Economic Growth Committee, where we recently cleaned up local roadsides. I also participate in the local farmer’s market and am leading the effort to build a local community garden. Currently, I maintain the Pierson Township Hall’s garden beds, removing the cost of paying an outside gardener during these times of hardship! I am ready to serve the citizens of Pierson Township with pride, dignity and the respect our residents deserve.
PINE TOWNSHIP TREASURER
Rachel Pitcher (Republican): No response.
1. Misty VanGessel, 39, Pine Township (Republican).
2. Multi-unit team leader/office manager/tax return preparer.
3. I have good communication skills and I am community-minded. I have knowledge of the property tax system in the State of Michigan. I have been an office manager for 15 years and I work well with people.
4. I am dedicated to serving the residents of the township.
5. I will do my best to always be available to the township residents and communicate in a timely manner.