By Judy Reed
Residents in the village of Sand Lake will go to the polls Tuesday, September 15, to vote for four members of the village council. Running for President is Kirk Thielke, and running for trustee positions are Carol Simpson, Billi Jo Thielke, and Celena Rosset. All are incumbents except Rosset, who is running for the position held by Tonia Parkhurst. All are running uncontested.
Kirk Thielke is seeking his second two-year term as President of the Sand Lake Village Council. Thielke, who also owns Wilderness Dreams, a sporting goods store, in Sand Lake, said that he has really enjoyed being in charge of the day-to-day functions of the village, although being President is quite a bit more involved than he originally anticipated. “I consider it an honor. It requires a lot of diligence but I enjoy it and am ready to give it another go,” he remarked.
Thielke said he has been civic-minded during most of his 25 years in the village. During that time he has served as a Sand Lake police reserve officer, Sand Lake fire member (he was a first responder), and vice-president of the Sand Lake Chamber of Commerce.
Thielke and his wife, Billi Jo, who is running for trustee, have four children—one daughter in college, and three at Tri County High School.
Carol Simpson is seeking another four-year term as trustee. Simpson said she has served on the village council since the late 1980s. Simpson is a life-long resident of the area. She graduated from Tri County High School, and taught for 38 years in at the elementary level at Cedar Springs Public Schools. She is now retired. She also does volunteer work for several organizations. “I like being involved in the community,” noted Simpson. “I enjoy working for the people.”
Simpson feels her experience on the council is a benefit, and that she brings knowledge of local issues as well as a senior citizen’s perspective to the table. She also urges residents to get involved. “We need involvement from the community, especially with the declining revenues and increased costs, and decisions won where to spend the tax money,” she remarked. Simpson noted that one of the important issues right now is updating of the sewer system. “There have been a lot of improvements happening in the last several years and I’d like to see them continue,” she said.
Billi Jo Thielke is running for another four-year term as trustee. She said she began serving on the council 8-10 years ago. “I enjoy being a part of the community. I feel being a part of the community and making it a great place for kids to live is important,” she said. She and her husband Kirk (who is running for president) have four children, three of them at Tri County High School, and one in college in Grand Rapids.
Besides working on the village council, Thielke is active in the Sand Lake Chamber of Commerce, volunteering as Chairman for several committees, including the membership, 3-on-3, flier, and Santa Claus committees.
Thielke takes her responsibility as trustee seriously. She said one of the important issues is the new sewer system and the accompanying rates. “We have to make sure we keep the residents in mind. We have to fix the sewer and be prepared for the future. But we can be fair about it,” she noted.
Celena Rosset is running for a four-year-term as trustee. She has not held political office before, but said she has attended meetings and is interested in what’s going on in the village. She has also worked with the Eagles club, and helped start the junior eagles.
Rosset said she got the idea to run for council after she was the victim of theft a few times over a one-month period. “I decided I don’t have a right to complain about things or be negative if I don’t try to run to make it better,” she said.
She has lived in the area all of her life. She grew up in Howard City, and attended both Lakeview and Tri County High Schools. She has two boys that attend Sand Lake schools. She currently works part time, sells Mary Kay, and takes care of a friend’s children.
Rosset feels she brings a younger perspective from the area to the council. “The town is growing whether we like it or not, and what we do while it’s growing determines whether it will be positive or negative growth,” she said.
Residents can vote at the Village office at 2 Maple Street in Sand Lake. Voters who need to have their absentee ballot mailed to them must apply for the ballot no later than 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12. Absentee ballots can be obtained in person anytime through 4 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 14. Voters who request an absentee ballot in person on Monday, Sept. 14 must vote in the clerk’s office. Emergency absentee ballots are available under certain conditions through 4 p.m. on the date of the election.
All voters who attend the polls must comply with Michigan’s voter identification requirement. They will be asked to present photo ID, such as a Michigan driver’s license or identification card. Anyone who does not have an acceptable form of photo ID or failed to bring it with them can still vote. They will sign a brief affidavit stating that they’re not in possession of a photo ID. Their ballots will be included with all others and counted on Election Day.
Voters who don’t have a Michigan driver’s license or identification card can show the following forms of photo ID as long as they are current:
- Driver’s license or personal identification card issued by another state
- Federal or state government-issued photo identification
- U.S. passport
- Military identification card with photo
- Student identification with photo from a high school or an accredited institution of higher education, such as a college or university
- Tribal identification card with photo.
A specially equipped voting station called the AutoMARK Voter Assist Terminal is also available at each polling location for use by voters with disabilities.