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Candidates vie for township seats

 

By Judy Reed

Voters will head to the polls on August 7 for the 2018 primary, where they will vote for a slate of both Michigan and local candidates for office. Locally, there are two township races for Supervisor, as well as a couple of open trustee seats. and millage renewals.

NELSON TOWNSHIP

Nelson Township has two people running for Supervisor to complete a partial term ending in 2020. 

Robyn Britton

Robyn Britton, the current Nelson Township Supervisor, is running to retain her seat. She was appointed to fill the spot when former Supervisor Tom Noreen retired. Britton said her primary reason for running is to give back. “My community has given me and my family so much it was time I did the same. Plus, I wanted to bring awareness to our community; for years I grew up in farm fields and understood that development was coming our way. I wanted to do my part to make sure there was a balance.”

Besides her experience as Nelson Township Supervisor, she also has served on Tri County Middle School youth soccer board for over 8 years; Secretary to the Board of Review; and Served on the Task Force for the Community Development (Kent County). 

She feels the main strength she brings is her experience in that position. “After attending over 90 meetings representing our community, I have a full understanding on where we are on the food chain when it comes to funding for our community. It takes relationships to get things done and I’ve built those relationships. Face to face still works better then a computer or phone. And I offer that. I also have a full understand of our Planning Commission because I’ve attended nearly all the meetings. I understand what is coming in the future and how we can make sure there is a balance for development and farmland preservation. We have been blessed with a growing economy but we need to be mindful of our current fiscal responsibility. Running two successful businesses, I understand having a balanced budget and not spending money you don’t have. I’ve also attended all but one Board of Review to understand our land prices and value. Anyone that has lived in Western Michigan understands we are the last of the big development areas and farmland areas and with the work of the Planning Commission I believe we are addressing this.”

Britton feels the main challenging facing Nelson Township is maintaining a balance between farmland and development. “Having attended the planning commission meetings has given me the insight of what is coming our way,” she said. Being only 20-25 minutes from Grand Rapids, it’s a balance not just with property but also with local residents and new residents moving into the area. She said she’d also like to see local township, village, and city governments work together to share road repairs and grants to relieve the tax burden on residents. Britton is also concerned with the CWD outbreak among deer, and what it means for residents and the local deer population. “This will have an impact on our land values and economy,” she said.

Tom Norton

Tom Norton is also running for Supervisor in Nelson Township. He is currently the Village President in Sand Lake. Norton, 35, has been a resident of the Village of Sand Lake for nine years. He was born in northern Kent County and was a student at Sand Lake Elementary School and Cedar Springs High School. He served in the Army National Guard and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012. He currently works as a salesman. He and his wife Jami have been married for almost ten years and have three children: Sienna 9, Kaitlyn 8, and Michael 6. They attend Saint Paul Lutheran Church.

What is Norton’s main reason for running? “I am running to get rid of the 20 percent add on retirement that Nelson Township gives to its elected officials and not to any of its workers. The money saved from this retirement could have paid for streets like 19 Mile and Becker to be paved and repaved. I am running to continue what I have done as President of Sand Lake, which is complete construction projects, getting streets like Oak and 7th repaved, and work with Lansing to get more grants for safer roads. For instance, downtown Sand Lake is having construction this fall which could only have been approved had our village been running in the black. Our council, despite its differences, has been very productive and that productivity is important.”

Besides serving as Village president for two years, Norton’s other experience on boards and committees includes serving on Village council as a Trustee for two years; Commander for the American Legion Post 2 from 2015-2016 located at the Boat and Canoe Club in Grand Rapids, the same post as Gerald R. Ford. “While commander of Post 2, we started a Veterans Suicide prevention program with our first and second Range day being at the Cedar Springs Gun and Rod Club, located right here in our township. Which eventually led to the West Michigan Veterans Ranch, which I am also on the board of,” he said.  

Norton feels the main strength he brings to the position is military experience and problem solving. “I have spent most of my adult life in management, from working at Meijer to serving in the military. Leadership is extremely important in each position I have been put into. Sand Lake, for instance, wouldn’t have a boat landing had there not been leadership to keep it open to the public. Roads would not have been getting completed without a certain amount of leadership. Our duty is to make sure tax dollars are spent effectively, not to benefit friends but to benefit the community and that’s the type of leadership that is necessary for the community as a whole.”

What does he see as the biggest challenge facing Nelson Township? “The biggest challenge that will be facing us is getting the roads fixed properly, hence ending the retirement and then going to Lansing to get more money to fund our infrastructure through an aggressive grant program. We pay taxes, which the state collects, and my biggest goal is to get as much of that money back as possible to the taxpayers.”


  

 COURTLAND TOWNSHIP

Three people are running to fill out a partial term for Courtland Township Supervisor, and one person is running unopposed for a trustee seat, also a partial term. Both end in 2020.

Mike Krygier

Mike Krygier, the current Courtland Township Supervisor, is running to retain his seat. He was appointed to the position when Chuck Porter retired earlier this year. He was born in Grand Rapids and graduated from Rockford High School in 1975. He was a manufacturing representative to Meijer for 25 years, and also held a real estate license specializing in farmland development. He has lived in Courtland Township 20 years. He and his wife Jackie have been married 39 years and have three grown children and 2 dogs.

Krygier said his main reason for running for office is because he has always been interested in local government, grassroots law at the base level, and working with the people. Besides his experience serving as Supervisor, he has been involved with the township for 12 years. He has served as a trustee; also served on the ZBA; Planning Commission; board of review; is a voting member for North Kent Sewer Authority; and a member of Grand Valley Metro Council.

He feels the main strength he brings to the position is communication. “Working and talking with people, listening to people. You deal with local issues and conflicts. My strength is being able to listen to both parties and come to a resolution,” he said.

What does he see as the major challenge facing Courtland Township? “Being primarily an agriculture community and also keeping a balance between subdivisions and agriculture. Keep it as green as we can, but realize we do have people coming in also.” 

Parks and rec is also high on his list. “One of my goals is to improve on our parks and recreation in the township with a possibility of a dog park. and connecting the White Pine Trail to our township parks,” he said.

Matt McConnon

Matt McConnon is also running for Courtland Township Supervisor. He is 46 years old, has been married for 22 years, and has four children. Two have graduated and two are in high school. He is a 20-year resident of Courtland Township and has served on the Planning Commission as well as being a Trustee. He works for Atkins Global as a contractor to MDOT in Grand Rapids.

McConnon said his main reason for running is that he currently serves as a trustee on the board and would like to take on a more active role in the leadership of Courtland Township. Besides his township experience, he also serves on the Board of Education for Cedar Springs Public Schools. “I have served on many different boards throughout my career. Some include Board Member for Michigan Association of Ambulance Services, Kent County Emergency Medical Services Executive Board and Deacon at Rockford Reformed Church.”

McConnon feels the main strength he brings to the position is leadership. “I bring leadership in policy making, finances, communication and collaboration. I am able to work with all people to develop strategies while taking several different views into account. I look for opportunities to gain input from the community in order to do what is best for Courtland Township.”

What does he feel is the major challenge facing Courtland Township? “Courtland Township has a large agricultural presence that I believe is important to maintain. Along with this, we have to look for ways to provide opportunities for growth both for commercial and residential. Growth will continue so we need to proactively look for ways to best accommodate this without losing our country living appeal. I also believe that we need to continually work on our infrastructure (roads and public utilities) to plan for this growth.”

Eric Smith

Eric Smith is also running for Courtland Township Supervisor. He is 44 years old and has lived in Courtland Township for 21 years. He grew up in Lowell, Michigan. He has been married for 16 years and has a 20-year-old son and a 15-year-old son who attends Cedar Springs High School. “I recently, after fighting Charcot disease for 6 years, had to have my left lower leg amputated, which has not stopped me from living my life. I have been self employed my whole adult life and have owned and operated Doowutchyalike Carts LLC locally for 13 years.”

Smith said that his main reason for running for office is communication. “I think that communication is key in all avenues of life and I think that we need more communication between the township and the citizens. We live in a digital era and I think we need to communicate better with Courtland Township residents. I also believe we need to preserve our agricultural base here in Courtland Township. I want to make sure our farming community stays here.”

He said transparency is the main strength he brings to the position. “I am a strong believer in the strength of transparency. By being more transparent, we can have more community involvement,” he said.

What does he see as the major challenge facing Courtland Township? “I would stop useless ordinances and regulations that hinder agricultural and economic growth in Courtland Township and redirect funds into fire and rescue and road repair.”

Michele Mojzuk is running to retain her seat as trustee on the Courtland Township board, where she has served approximately a year. She is 52 years old, and has lived in Courtland Township for approx 30 years. She grew up in Sparta. Mojzuk works for Charter Industries in Accounting, where she does Credit/Collections as well as Accounts Payable. She is married to Steve Mojzuk, current Fire Chief for Courtland Township. They have two daughters, Tara and Alexis.

Prior to becoming a Trustee on the board, she served as a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals for Courtland Township. She is currently a member of the Myers Lake Improvement Association where her main responsibility is Weed Control Treatments.   

Mojzuk said the main strength she brings to the position is an open mind. “My main strength would be to keep an open mind during discussions regarding any changes affecting our Township. That being said, I do listen to the community’s comments and concerns regarding what they feel is best for the township.”

What does she see as the major challenge facing Courtland Township? “In the short time I have been on the board we have been faced with several challenges. The best thing I can do is educate myself on each situation so that we as a Township can work together to find a workable solution for those challenges.    That may involve researching what others have done in similar situations or maybe just group discussions to see how members of the township feel about those challenges.” 


SPENCER TOWNSHIP

There is one person running to fill a partial term for trustee in Spencer Township. The seat will expire in 2020.

Sharon Rasmussen Fasea

Sharon Rasmussen Fase is running for trustee in Spencer Township. Her family has lived in Spencer Township since 1870. She and her husband Ron live in the furthest northeast corner of the township on the Montcalm County border. While her degree is a Bachelor of Arts, she has been a Project Manager, first in Facilities and then IT, since 1991. “We have 4 horses, a dog and way too many cats,” she said.

What is her main reason for running for office? “I am running for Trustee to serve my neighbors and constituents. The large population tracts push their own agendas. Our local community has just as much value as urban areas. Our issues are important, too. My voice will represent OUR voice.”

Fase has served on the Spencer Township Zoning Board of Appeals since 2013. She  has also been an Eastern Star member since 1981. She is currently the secretary of Trufant Chapter #383. She is a member of PORT, the Pediatric Oncology Resource Team associated with the Devos Children’s Hospital, and is a member of the IT and Properties Committees of her church.

She feels the main strength she brings to the position is that of being a resourceful project manager for many years. “My job has been managing environments and change, reviewing risks and issues, maintaining strict control of budgets while listening to project owners and meeting their needs. I have excellent long-standing training and experience for this position.”

What does she see as the major challenge facing Spencer Township? “Our biggest challenge is accommodating population growth while maintaining our rural character. To manage this I will continue to weigh the benefits and challenges to find those changes that best support the goals of Spencer Township.”

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