Seats on municipal, school boards, millage proposals to be decided
November 01, 2018 | 01:50 PM
TRI-CITY AREA — On Tuesday, voters will cast ballots in the November 6 general election.
In addition to national and state contests and proposals, several local races and requests will be decided in the Tri-City area.
Polls are open that day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Here's a recap of what will appear on county, township, city and village portions of the ballot.
In Lapeer County:
Probate Judge Justus Scott looks to gain another term on the bench. His challenger is current Prosecutor Mike Sharkey.
Gary Howell, a Republican, is seeking another term as Lapeer County's 82nd District representative in the Michigan House. His opponent is Chris Giles, a Democrat.
Democrat Sarah Graver has pulled out of the race for Lapeer County Commission's 7th District but her name will still appear on the ballot with incumbent Ian Kempf, a Republican.
Voters in Goodland Township will be asked to consider a 1.5 mill, four-year roads millage.
Lapeer County, along with their neighbors in Tuscola and Bay counties, will choose a new 31st District state senator. Their options are Republican Kevin Daley and Democrat Cynthia Luczak.
Among the county's school districts, Almont, Dryden and Imlay City will all ask voters to renew non-homestead operating millages and Almont will ask to override the Headlee Amendment as it applies to the sinking fund.
In Imlay City there's a three-way race for two school board seats. The candidates are incumbents Greg Dennis and Sharon Muir and challenger Virgil Love.
There are no contested races for two open seats on both the Almont and Dryden school boards.
The same holds true for village council races in Almont or Dryden where not enough candidates filed for open seats. In Imlay City Stu Davis, Frank Demske, Allen Rosenbalm, Ted Sadler and Kelly Villanueva are in the running for four seats on the commission—three, four-year terms and one, two-year term.
In St. Clair County:
Five candidates are seeking two terms on the St. Clair County Community College board of trustees. The names include Amy Holmes, Geof Kusch, Bassam Nasr, John Ogden and Marcia Robbins. Ogden currently sits on the board.
In the 81st House of Representatives contest, Republican Gary Eisen and Democrat Josh Rivard are battling it out for a two-year term in Lansing.
In the 25th State Senate race, Democrat Debbie Bourgois is facing off against Republican Dan Lauwers.
In Capac, three candidates will vie for two seats on the school board. The field includes incumbents Jim Crane and Marie Killingbeck. John Antilla, a former board member, has also filed.
In the village of Capac, five candidates have filed for three council member seats. Incumbents Mary Klug, Patti Weyhrauch and Bruce Lawrence all hope to earn another four-year term on the council. Their challengers are Lynne Cline Mandeville and Debra Hlubic.
A write-in candidate, Rebekah Flores, is looking to challenge Council President John Grzyb.
In the 10th Congressional District, which includes both Lapeer and St. Clair counties, three candidates are challenging incumbent Republican Paul Mitchell—Democrat Kimberly Bizon, the Green Party's Harley Mikkelson and Independent Jeremy Peruski.
November 01, 2018 | 01:49 PM
IMLAY CITY — Three candidates are vying for two six-year terms on the Imlay City Schools Board of Education. Incumbents Greg Dennis and Sharon Muir are looking to retain their seats and challenging them is Virgil Love.
Greg Dennis currently serves as the board's vice president. He joined the board back in 2010.
"I am running for re-election because I enjoy the interaction with the Imlay City School community and I believe a strong, well managed school district is a critical component of the quality of life we enjoy here in Imlay City," Dennis said.
He believes his 20-plus years as a small business owner, plus his roles as chair of the board's finance and building and grounds committees give him the "experience and institutional knowledge that I believe is necessary to be an effective member of the board."
Dennis thinks the district has made great strides in expanding their fine arts programming, supporting the new Middle College program and instituting STEM-based curriculum with a focus on careers.
Going forward, Dennis said he "would like to see the district continue to support and expand our vocational programs."
Virgil Love could not be reached for comment by press time.
Sharon Muir was first elected to the school board in 2004 and has served as president for the last 9 years.
She said there are a number of reasons she opted to seek re-election this year.
"I feel I owe a debt of gratitude for the excellent education my kids received and I want to give back to the district to show my gratitude," Muir said, referring to her three children who are all Imlay City graduates.
She is the current board's longest serving member and believes it's important to maintain a balance of newer and more experienced representatives. Within the last two years, the board has welcomed three new members.
"I have the knowledge, time, energy and commitment to remain and serve the community well; plus I feel like there's still more work to be done," Muir said.
She believes the school district and board has a lot to be proud of in terms of recent accomplishments, awards and program expansions, specifically mentioning the launch of the Early Learning Center and its growth over the last five years; Imlay City High School being recognized by U.S. News and World Report for the third time in ten years with a Bronze Award; reinstating a vocal music program; restoring the Middle School counselor position and creating an AP environmental science program at the high school.
"Even through the tough times, especially since 2008, we have maintained a healthy fund balance and did not have to borrow money. Having that fund balance also meant we didn't have to do mid-year cuts if there was an unexpected loss of enrollment," she said.
Going forward, Muir feels the district has many more tasks to tackle, including its aging infrastructure, but she's confident the board's Building and Grounds committee, headed up by Greg Dennis, is capable of leading that charge.
"We still need to focus on expanding technical and career opportunities for our kids as as well," she said.
"We recently graduated our first class out of the Middle College and it's important that we consider expanding that program in terms of programs and partnerships."
Two other names will appear on the Imlay City Schools' section of the ballot too. Kaylee Keading and Marcel Allen Lamb, two current members who were appointed to seats on the board, are each looking to finish out the remainder of their terms. Both are uncontested in the November 6 election, meaning they're guaranteed to earn partial terms through 2020.
Voters in the Imlay City school district are also being asked to renew the current operating millage.
The ballot language is asking for the renewal of 17.856 mills for four years, 2020 to 2023 and also increase the levy by .144 million for five years from 2019 to 2023.
That amounts to restoring the mills lost to automatic Headlee Amendment reductions for the one year that remains on the current millage, bumping it back up to 18 mills, and then retaining that amount for a renewed, four-year term, from 2020 to 2023.
At 18 mills, the millage generates about $1.9 million or nine percent of the district's total budget.
In 2014, the district secured a five-year renewal of the millage but have opted to bring it to voters a year early to skip the expense of holding an election themselves next year.
"It is important to me that the voters understand this is a renewal of the Non-Homestead millage, which has been renewed continuously since it was initiated in 1994. It is not a new millage, nor is it related in any way to any recent ballot initiatives," Supt. Dr. Stu Cameron said.
The levy does not include owner-occupied residences but generally includes business, rental homes, second homes and commercial properties.
November 01, 2018 | 01:47 PM
CAPAC — Three candidates are vying for two seats on the Capac School Board, each for six year terms.
Jim Crane and Marie Killingbeck are looking to keep their seats on the board. The other name on the ballot is that of John Antilla, who's previously served on the board.
John Antilla said he opted to run in the November election to give voters a choice. He served on the board for nearly six years in the 2000s.
He helped start Capac Schools' FIRST Robotics program and has advocated in Lansing for "improved funding for public schools and policy changes to better help us do that."
If elected, Antilla said he would advocate for a focus on academics and communications.
"I would continue to push for meaningful academic curriculum improvements; rigor and relevance as they say. I think we need to prepare all of Capac students to be self-sufficient after they graduate, and I know that's a tall order," he said.
"I've seen some improvement in district communication but think we need to do even more to make sure we're getting the right message out to the community. Let's celebrate the achievements."
Antilla believes more needs to be done to prevent bullying in schools too.
Three of his kids have graduated from Capac High School and a fourth, Noah, is in eighth grade.
Jim Crane was first elected to the board in 2001 and served until 2009. He regained a seat again in 2015 for a total of 12 years on the board.
Crane said he'd like to stay on the board to ensure the community's strong values have a voice.
"While we must educate our students to live and thrive in the 21st century, we do not have to use the 'cookie cutter' approach to education that some folks advocate. Every student must be prepared for success. That means different things to different people.," he said.
"Not all students will go on to college. Not all students that do go on to college will attain a 4-year degree. Not all students that finish their 4-year degree will be able to find a job in their field right away. Not all students that get a job in their field will do it for the rest of their lives. Our world is changing rapidly. A solid, comprehensive, liberal arts education will take a person anywhere they may want to go. Life-long learners make the best citizens."
Crane believes that the district can count several recent accomplishments including bond issues approved by voters, the implementation of a strategic plan and the ratification of a two-year contract with teachers plus amicable negotiations ongoing with other units.
He says district leaders are well aware of their shortcomings and working toward addressing them, like test scores in lower grades.
"The board is diverse in many ways, but I believe we all want the best for our students. We are working hard to communicate better with students, parents and community members. I am determined to keep pushing hard for real improvement, not just 'change,'" he said.
Crane has seen five of his children graduate from Capac and another two are currently high school students.
Marie Killingbeck could not be reached for comment by press time.
November 01, 2018 | 01:47 PM
LAPEER COUNTY — Incumbent Lapeer County Probate Judge Justus Scott is facing a challenge from current Lapeer County Prosecutor Michael Sharkey on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Both are seeking a six-year term as probate judge.
Scott has served 17-plus years as Lapeer County's Probate/Family Court Judge and believes his experience and knowledge make him the better choice.
"I am seeking re-election as Lapeer County Probate Court Judge, because it is my commitment to listen to and continue to help the families of Lapeer County," said Scott. "I made this commitment in 1980 as a new assistant prosecutor and to this day, continue trying to help people and solve problems."
Before being elected probate judge, Scott spent 21 years in the Lapeer County Prosecutor's Office. He was elected Lapeer County Prosecutor in 1993 and served eight years before being elected Lapeer County Probate Court Judge in 2001.
Scott has served on many local boards, including as Chairman of the McLaren Lapeer Region Hospital Board; the Boards of LACADA, KIND and CPC; and as vice president of the Lapeer County Bar Association.
During his tenure as judge, Scott has witnessed the deadly toll opioids and illicit drugs has taken in Lapeer County, where 17 people died last year from drug overdoses.
With drug abuse and overdoses reaching epidemic proportions, Scott teamed up with the Lapeer County and Four County Community Foundations to create the Lapeer County Drug Court, whose role is to provide drug testing and support for those addicted to drugs.
Scott said the court represents a collaboration of local resources, including law enforcement, probation, community mental health, health department and community corrections, all of which are dedicated to assisting individuals addicted to drugs.
"The goal is to guide people to a full recovery using intensive resources to meet their needs," Scott said.
With the election just days away, Scott points to his commitment to the position as good reason for county residents to cast their votes for him on Nov. 6.
"I have been an active member of this community for over 39 years," Scott said. "I pledge to continue to work with the developmentally disabled, to protect children's rights, work with families to keep them together, facilitate adoptions, preside over abuse and neglect cases, and protect those who cannot protect themselves."
Scott pointed to the efficiency of his courtroom, as indicated by the top ratings he received from the State Court Administrator's Office.
"I have run a positive campaign focused on my experience, my dedication and commitment," Scott said. "My opponent has done the opposite.
"The people of Lapeer County are tired of the negative campaigning, the conspiracy theories, lawsuits, and politically-motivated grievances. They deserve better," he continued. "I ask for your vote on Nov. 6. It will be a vote for experienced, trusted and committed leadership."
Sharkey makes case
Given his 30 years in private practice as an attorney and more recently, his tenure as Lapeer County Prosecutor, Mike Sharkey believes he is ready to challenge Scott for the probate judge seat.
"I believe my experience and particular skill set will be an asset to our courts," said Sharkey. "Although Judge Scott has been in office many years, we need new leadership and direction.
"My decision to run is heartfelt and important to me because the actions of local representatives have enormous impact on the everyday lives of Lapeer County residents.
"Currently, there is little to no private sector experience among all the current judges combined," said Sharkey. "I will bring that much needed experience to the Courts."
A longtime Lapeer-based attorney, Sharkey was the popular choice for Lapeer County Prosecutor in 2016, when he handily defeated incumbent Tim Turkelson by capturing about 60 percent of the votes cast. He believes his experience and ideals will make him the best choice for probate judge.
"The most important quality for a judge is to remain independent and to be free from what (President) George Washington called 'entangling alliances,'" Sharkey said. "A judge simply cannot take sides and play favorites with his friends. I think some of the judges in Lapeer County have lost sight of this basic principal."
Sharkey said his campaign promise to voters when he ran for prosecutor was "to confront and root out corruption" in the county's courthouse; a promise he intends to keep if elected judge.
"By running for probate judge, I am continuing to fulfill this promise," he said. "The many good people of our county have blessed my life. I feel I must continue to give back.
"I feel duty-bound to protect our wonderful community, and I am confident I can help return our court system to one of integrity and efficiency," he said.
"I know it will be an uphill battle to defeat the incumbent," said Sharkey, "but my conscience tells me it is the right thing to do.
"I'm ready for this challenge," he said. "With the help and support of Lapeer County residents, we can all together make a difference on November 6."
Regardless of the outcome of election, Sharkey will retain his position as Lapeer County Prosecutor.
November 01, 2018 | 01:46 PM
GOODLAND TWP. — Officials hope that a stronger economy and desire for improve infrastructure will spur township residents to support a road millage on November 6.
That day Goodland voters will decide the fate of a proposed levy up to 1.5 mills for a period of four years, 2018-2022, for road maintenance and improvement.
Supervisor Ron Cischke said multiple factors have brought them to this point.
"The cost of everything is going up. Last year our dust control cost was $12,000 and this year it was up to $20,000," he said, adding that the bill for roadside mowing has also increased.
The township said there's potential to tackle important projects with the Lapeer County Road Commission but they need the extra funds to get started.
"There are fund matching programs through the county for ditching and tree removal but we haven't been able to participate because of finances," he added.
The millage would generate approximately $94,822 in the first year that it's collected.
Cischke said the township has spent about $300,000 on gravel in just the last three years.
He said the township board won't draw up a priority list unless the ballot proposal passes, but they already have a good idea of what will need their attention including the paved portions of Shaw and Bowers roads.
Township officials have put road millage proposals before voters in the past including the 2006 and 2011 elections.
Paul Mitchell facing three challengers for Congressional seat
November 01, 2018 | 01:45 PM
TRI-CITY AREA — Four candidate names will appear on the November 6 ballot for Michigan's 10th District Representative in the U.S. Congress. Incumbent Paul Mitchell looks to retain his seat for another two years. Those challenging the Republican are Democrat Kimberly Bizon, Harley Mikkelson of the Green Party and Jeremy Peruski, an independent candidate.
The 10th District includes all of Huron, Sanilac, St. Clair, Lapeer and portions of Tuscola and Macomb counties. Mitchell succeeded fellow Republican Candice Miller just two years ago in 2016.
Kimberly Bizon considers herself a "bold progressive" who might be new to politics but is an experienced environmental activist locally and globally, having trained at the Climate Reality Project, an initiative of former Vice President Al Gore.
Bizon believes the 10th District could see multiple benefits from infrastructure investments.
"Solar and wind industries are expanding rapidly, creating jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the economy. Technological advances and falling costs of installation have combined to provide a unique opportunity for Michigan to make smart investments in the energy systems of the future and bring promising careers to Michigan at the same time. We need a representative in Washington that understands this opportunity and will work to make it a reality," Bizon stated on her website.
If elected, some of her other priorities in office would be to give teachers raises, not guns; protect the Affordable Care Act from being repealed and seek resources to address the opioid crisis.
She is employed with the Sussman Agency, Michigan's largest media buyer, as a web and interactive director.
Harley Mikkelson believes the United States is a great country but "it can be made better by investing in our people." To accomplish that, Mikkelson said he would advocate for more federal funds for education and sustainable food production, the creation of a single-payer health care system and cutting military spending on foreign wars.
He believes that having troops overseas in places like the Middle East has not made this country safer but only created more enemies.
"We could save hundreds of billions of dollars every year by bringing our soldiers and contractors home and using the money saved to rebuild our country. A strong economy keeps us safer than a strong military," Mikkelson said.
Some of his other priorities in office, if elected, would include imposing taxes on fossil fuels and agricultural chemicals to protect the environment, hiring one million new teachers and guaranteeing $15 per hour wages for all workers.
Mikkelson is an Army veteran and spent his career working for the state of Michigan in community health, education and human services.
Paul Mitchell has served in Congress since 2016, besting a field of four other Republicans in the primary and then defeating Frank Accavitti Jr. in the general election.
Mitchell considers himself a "principled, conservative leader" who has a "history of fighting for Michigan families," according to his campaign website.
Before earning his seat in Washington, D. C., Mitchell spent much of his career in workforce training, including his time as CEO of Ross Education.
Currently, he serves on several committees including transportation and infrastructure, armed services and oversight and government reform.
Mitchell says he's already delivered on many of his previous campaign promises like voting to reverse cuts to the military and supporting a military pay increase; supporting the full repeal of Affordable Care Act and successfully calling for the release of the Brandon Road Asian Carp study.
"I promised to support individual and corporate tax reform and to simplify the tax code. I voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which has provided American families with larger paychecks and more jobs," Mitchell stated on his website.
Mitchell said he also delivered on a pledge to improve higher education transparency for the sake of prospective students.
"I introduced the College Transparency Act which will ensure students have access to accurate and complete information on employment outcomes across colleges and majors."
Jeremy Peruski entered the race as an Independent candidate because "he believes your representative should only be responsible to the voters who send him to Washington, not political party leaders, special interests or corporate donors," he stated on his website.
A native of Deckerville, Peruski worked in finance and technology sectors in the U.S. and China before returning to his hometown.
Peruski said that his "experience abroad has shown him that the rest of the world is catching up in the areas that always made Michigan strong" and that he wants to "do all that is necessary to keep our district competitive in an increasingly globalized world." One way to do that, he believes, is to focus on creating talent retention and attraction strategies to keep educated tradesmen and college graduates in the state.
If elected, some of his other priorities in office would include helping farmers increase global demand for agricultural products and call for more ethanol production and consumption; close tax loopholes that benefit corporations and billionaires and reform the education system so as to promote critical thinking and entrepreneurship skills over rote learning and standardized tests.
November 01, 2018 | 12:25 PM
ST. CLAIR COUNTY — Come November 6, voters in the House of Representatives 81st District will have their choice of Republican Gary Eisen or Democrat Josh Rivard. The candidates are looking to secure a two-year term and fill the seat currently held by Dan Lauwers, who's served the maximum of six years in the House and is now seeking a spot in the Michigan Senate.
Eisen was the top vote-getter in a crowded, eight candidate Republican primary in August. When the votes were tallied he bested the second place finisher, Ken Nicholl, by just 23 votes. Rivard was the lone Democrat to file in the district.
The 81st District includes a large portion of St. Clair County including Lynn, Mussey and Berlin townships and the village of Capac.
Gary Eisen was born and raised in St. Clair. He's been a business owner since the age of 21 and still owns and operates a welding and fabricating shop in Richmond. Eisen also owns his own martial arts school and is a firearms instructor.
He believes that his various skills and experiences makes him well-rounded and a good decision maker.
"I'm hardworking, honest and pretty straight forward," Eisen added.
As someone without further political aspirations beyond the House, Eisen said "I can focus on helping the district, county and state."
If elected, Eisen said he would focus his time on things like education and the skilled trades, roads and insurance rates, protecting Second Amendment rights, plus be an advocate for small business.
"They are the backbone of America and employ the most people," he said.
Eisen said he supports efforts to get more teenagers interested in the skilled trades.
"It's about getting 7th and 8th grade kids interested in something they can build. Our education systems need to recognize that not everyone should go to college," he said. When it comes to addressing the state's crumbling roads, Eisen said he would advocate for quality over quantity and encourage the use of different types of construction.
Josh Rivard was born and raised in Algonac. Currently he works in construction and runs a non-profit foundation in honor of his brother who died by suicide. Last year, Rivard spent four months cycling across the country on behalf of the foundation, talking to people and organizations about mental health.
"I'm qualified for this position because of my desire to help my neighbors and my ability to listen and lead. Listening to my neighbors has proven that people are struggling and looking to a leader for answers and to help them. It's time that someone with the ability to have the hard conversations and make the hard choices got into office to solve the problems the people of Michigan are facing," Rivard said.
He believes that access to mental and physical health care is one of the most important issues to constituents in the 81st District, citing the opioid crisis, spread of hepatitis cases in the state and a high suicide rate.
"As someone who is losing their healthcare and can't afford an alternative option, keeping access to healthcare is key to resolving these issues and I plan on ensuring that more people can get access to the healthcare they deserve," Rivard said.
Additionally, Rivard said he would advocate for a mental health counselor to be present in every school in the state.
"This will not only give students the tools and knowledge they need to stay healthy, but also act as an access point for the community at large," he added.
Democrat Chris Giles makes bid for House in Lansing
November 01, 2018 | 12:24 PM
LAPEER COUNTY — Incumbent Republican Gary Howell is facing a challenge for the 82nd District House seat he currently occupies.
Democrat Chris Giles is making a bid for the spot. An employee at Vintech Industries for the past six years, Giles contemplates the future of his young daughter, a first grader at Imlay City's Weston Elementary, who he hopes will have the same opportunities afforded other children.
"I see my daughter attend a school system that has been underfunded and neglected for far too long," Giles says. "I work in an industry that is quickly moving toward a future of automation, but with no attention given to the future of the workers.
"I drive on the same failing infrastructure and I dread seeing how much higher my health insurance premiums are going to rise every year.
"Our state has been left in shambles due to years of mismanagement and ineffectiveness," Giles says. "I am
determined to make my way to Lansing and to help shift us back in the right direction."
"My overriding message is this," Giles says. "We in Lapeer County and all across this state deserve better than what we've been given.
"This state was built on the backs of hardworking families who sacrifice over and over again, and never seem to make it out ahead —and it's time for a change.
"It's time for our leaders in Lansing to start taking care of those same hardworking families, not just the people who donate to their campaigns.
"So whether you vote for me or not, I am determined to fight for every single citizen in this county and in this state to create a better future for all of us."
On the issues
Following are Giles' positions on issues he deems important to all Lapeer County residents, and regardless of their political persuasion.
"Improving Michigan's educational systems is among my highest priorities when I head to Lansing," says Giles. "In order to regain our standing as an economic power and a leader in innovation, we need to be on the cutting edge of education.
"To make sure our next generation is ready to take on this challenge takes investing in them from pre-K through graduation.
"Hardworking Michigan families deserve to have a sense of security from all their hard work," Giles says. "However, with the unions being weakened, jobs being outsourced and turned towards automation, the long-term security for workers is in doubt.
"I want to repeal 'right to work' legislation to enable the unions to have the power to fight for their workers again, as well as implement a guaranteed jobs program to give anyone who seeks employment in this state a job."
"I vow to fight any attempts to weaken the ACA, or to cut Medicare/Medicaid coverage," Giles says. "I believe it is in the best interest of Michigan to ensure our citizens have affordable access to health care.
"In pursuing that objective, I want to push for a 'Medicare for All' style plan that insures that every Michigander is covered and can afford their medical expenses."
"There are many problems going on across the state, some of the most egregious include the lack of transparency in our legislature, partisan gerrymandering, and attempts at voter suppression," says Giles. "I promise I will fight any effort to disenfranchise any citizen, and to give everyone an equal voice."
Republican Gary Howell has been active in Lapeer County for decades.
A North Branch farmer and longtime attorney, Howell represented many Lapeer County townships and municipalities from 1974-2014.
His first foray into State of Michigan politics was in 2008, when he unsuccessfully ran for the 82nd District House of Representatives seat.
However, in 2016, Howell won a special election to replace Todd Courser who had been forced to resign his 82nd District House seat.
Howell said he is proud to have been given the opportunity to represent the residents of Lapeer County for the past two-and-a-half years.
Issues & Accomplishments
If re-elected on Nov. 6, Howell plans to remain steadfast in his efforts to do what he feels is best for his constituency.
"It has been a great honor to represent the people of Lapeer County in Lansing," Howell said. "I have served in the Legislature and have worked hard to set a standard of ethical and effective leadership to make Lapeer County proud.
"I am now asking the voters to give me an additional two-year term to continue my efforts in the State Capitol."
Alluding to his role as Chairman of the House's Natural Resources Committee, Howell said he has used that position to advance legislation to enhance hunting and fishing opportunities as well as preserve our public lands. "I was the sponsor of Public Act 240, which for the first time in Michigan history, established permanent protections for our state forests, game areas, and parks to guarantee those lands for future generations," he says.
"My Public Act 4 expanded youth hunting opportunities through the mentored hunting program, and locally I was able to arrange for a significant appropriation for the Lapeer State Game Area to enhance the DNR shooting facility for hunters while at the same time protecting nearby residents," Howell says.
"I am continuing my work to improve ground water protections and deal specifically with issues such as lead, asbestos and PFOS in our water."
He noted that vocational education is another area of particular interest to him.
"As former President of the Lapeer County ISD Board of Education, I was deeply involved in vocational programs," Howell said. "In Lansing, I've gotten legislation adopted which will encourage young people to take advantage of vocational and skilled trades opportunities. During the past year the Legislature has authorized a dramatic increase in spending to support vocational education.
"If re-elected, I will continue working hard to improve educational funding in general while restraining the growth of government regulation," he said. "Too much of our students' time is spent on state-mandated testing instead of academic and vocational learning.
"It is my intention to continue to be actively involved and engage with all of the citizens of Lapeer County," Howell says.
"While we may not agree on everything, the voters can be assured I will always listen carefully and make informed decisions based on my understanding of what is best for Michigan and Lapeer County."
A graduate of Michigan State University and University of Michigan Law School, Howell is married to wife, Cheryl, and has three adult children and four grandchildren.
Howell's public service includes serving as township trustee and planning commissioner from 1972-1977; Lapeer County Road Commission Chairman, 2013-2015; North Branch School Board, 1995-2000; and trustee/president of the Lapeer County ISD School Board, 1998-2015.
As a member of the Michigan House of Representatives, Howell serves on the Agriculture, Local Government, Natural Resources (Chair) and Transportation and Infrastructure committees.
Imlay resident says she is no longer actively campaigning
November 01, 2018 | 12:16 PM
TRI-CITY AREA — Although her name will appear on the ballot, Sarah Graver is no longer actively campaigning to represent Lapeer County Commission's 7th District.
The Democrat had plans to challenge incumbent Republican Ian Kempf but revealed last week that she's no longer seeking election.
"Recently, my family was presented with an opportunity that will possibly result in relocating from the district during the two-year term," Graver said.
"This decision was not an easy one for me and I still struggle with the fact that the move is only a possibility, however, I think it would be unfair to ask residents for their support in a position I knowingly may not be able to complete the term."
Neither Graver or Kempf faced challengers in the August primary.
"I am very appreciative of the support I have received this far and look forward to continuing to serve the community in other capacities," she said.
Lapeer County's 7th District includes Almont and Imlay townships, the city of Imlay City and village of Almont.
November 01, 2018 | 12:15 PM
IMLAY CITY — Mostly familiar names will appear on the Tuesday, Nov. 6 ballot of those seeking to fill one of four open seats on the Imlay City Commission.
Among those to file by the original filing deadline and whose names will appear on the ballot, include: Stu Davis, Frank Demske, Allen Rosenbalm, Ted Sadler and Kelly Villanueva.
The candidates with the three highest vote totals will be elected to four-year terms on the commission; while the fourth-highest vote recipient will serve a two-year term.
The newly elected commissioners will fill the seats of Mayor Walt Bargen, Amy Planck and Bob Tanis, each of whom was term-limited.
Demske was appointed to the commission following the resignation of Marty Rankin and is now running for his own seat.
Two file as write-ins
Though not on the Nov. 6 ballot, Clerk/Treasurer Lynn Eustler reported that residents Julie Salsido, a community volunteer; and local auctioneer, Greg Rowden, have filed to run as write-in candidates.
Stu Davis is a regular visitor at city commission meetings and has served on the Imlay City Planning Commission, Downtown Development Authority and the Parks and Recreation Board.
"In the next few years the city will need to spend significant monies on infrastructure," said Davis. "After 20-plus years of attending meetings, I have ideas how to reduce the burden on homeowners. I think I understand the city and want to help make viable decisions that are cost effective."
Davis said his background in technology and management provides him an ability to understand problems and to work with others to find solutions.
"We have infrastructure problems coming in the next few years, such as our water distribution and water treatment systems," he said. "I have some ideas to soften the financial blow to homeowners."
Frank Demske has served on the Imlay City Commission since September 2017, having been appointed after the resignation of Marty Rankin. He has served on the city's recreation board, Board of Review, Friends of the Polly Ann Trail, and volunteers with Watch DOGS at Borland Schools.
Demske said he hopes to retain his seat and help to usher in a thriving future for the community.
"I believe that one person can make a difference," said Demske. "We live in an amazing and fun community that is welcoming to families and businesses.
"I believe Imlay City has the capacity to grow in both population and business development, while still remaining true to our core values."
Demske identified maintaining and upgrading the city's infrastructure, taking care of streets and roads, and careful use of funds as priorities for the city's future.
"The city manager and city commission have tried to carefully budget our finite resources to address and upgrade our aging infrastructure," he continued. "We need to continue to be good stewards of the trust the community has placed in us."
While a proponent of growth and development, Demske does not want to sacrifice Imlay City's small-town flavor.
"Growth is necessary if our community is to prosper," he said, "but we must never forget that our real strength lies in our community pride.
"To attract new business and development, we need to create an environment which allows businesses to grow concurrently with the city and community."
Allen Rosenbalm is regular visitor to city commission meetings and frequently offers comments during public input.
"As a regular participant at meetings for three years, I understand the processes and procedures. I am familiar with the power structure," said Rosenbalm. "I want to make a difference, to bring objectives and a new sense of idealism to the commission.
"I want to make a difference for our underserved teens and young adult population—to invest in them and be attentive to their concerns."
Rosenbalm said he would prioritize residential needs (replacing sidewalks and clearing them in winter) over beautification and economic development.
Ted Sadler is another frequent visitor to Imlay City Commission meetings, providing him an educated perspective on ongoing projects and a window into the challenges of municipal government.
"My wife Amy and I have raised our family and built our life here in Imlay City since 1989," said Sadler. "What a great place to live!"
"I've enjoyed serving my neighbors on the Imlay City Planning Commission and by attending our city commission meetings," he continued.
"The folks (current city officials) we have serving at present have done a great job," said Sadler. "The city staff we have is a real blessing.
"If my fellow Imlay City citizens elect me to serve, I would encourage the new commission to study all of the behind-the-scenes details — to continue to do what is working and to make adjustments where needed.
"With the help and participation of our neighbors, we can help plan the best possible future for our families and for the future of Imlay City."
Kelly Villanueva has become a fixture in Imlay City as a business owner, public servant and event coordinator.
She has served on the Imlay City Area Chamber of Commerce Board, is a member of the Imlay City Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Board and is president of Imlay City's Parks and Recreation Board.
The owner of Kelly's Pet Salon, Villanueva realizes the challenges and rewards of owning a business in a small community.
"I care deeply about this community," said Villanueva. "I firmly believe that Imlay City is one of the best small-town communities to raise a family in Michigan.
"As a city commissioner, I want to be be able to give back to my community," Villanueva said. "With my experience and volunteering for community events for 20 years, I have a good understanding of the wants and needs of Imlay City residents."
Among the biggest challenges facing the community in the future, Villanueva cited public safety, infrastructure improvements and economic growth as most critical.
"In the future, our challenge may be our identify," she said. "Where do we see ourselves in the next 10 to 50 years?"