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Candidates in city/township races


 

Tuesday is election day here in the U.S., and residents will be voting for president, vice-president, federal and state senators, representatives, judges, sheriff, and many varied city and township positions and proposals. Below are just a few of the races in our area. (Mostly just the contested ones.) To see what will be on the ballot for your township or city, please visit www.michigan.gov/sos, and click on Michigan Election and Voter information, and then on “View your sample ballot.” You will input your county, then jurisdiction (city or township), then precinct to see your ballot.

CITY OF CEDAR SPRINGS

Two people are running for two City Council seats in the City of Cedar Springs: incumbent Rose Powell, and Jerry Gross, who was recently appointed to fill the seat vacated by Robert Truesdale earlier this summer.

Rose Powell

Rose Powell

Rose Powell: Incumbent Rose Powell is seeking her second term as a City Council member. She has been married to Chris Powell for 46 years. They have three children: Gina, Brynadette, and Christopher. “It has been an honor to serve our community,” she said.

Rose said her primary reason for running for office was that she felt the citizens of Cedar Springs were betrayed when the Red Flannels were destroyed. “I hoped to help restore trust and confidence in our city government and city staff,” she said.

Besides one term on the council, Rose has also served on the Zoning Board of Appeals, the DDA, and the Community Building Development Team. She feels that the main strength she brings to the board is common sense and respect for others’ opinions.

Rose said the major challenges facing Cedar Springs right now is the need for a new firebarn and finding the money for it. She’d also like to see simple and inexpensive improvements to the downtown business district and storefronts.

Jerry Gross

Jerry Gross

Jerry Gross Sr.: Jerry Gross Sr. has been married to Barbara K. (Anderson) Gross for 43 years. They have two children, Lisa and Jerry Jr. (JJ); four grandchildren, and two stepgrandchildren. He has lived here for 43 years, was born and raised in Sand Lake, and graduated from Tri County High School. He spent four years in the Navy during Viet Nam. He has an associates degree from Ferris State University in social service technology, with a juvenile corrections major. He is semi-retired, and has worked part time as Nelson Township Zoning administrator and code enforcement for 10-1/2 years. He also worked half a year as Solon Township code enforcement, and has spent 36 years on the Cedar Springs Fire Department.

Jerry’s main reason for running for office: “To paraphrase something my father told me a long time ago: If you believe that there is a problem and you are  not part of the solution, then you may be part of the problem.” He said that he believes that there may be too many decisions that have been made to satisfy personal interests or special interest groups and not always to the benefit of the taxpayer and residents of Cedar Springs.

He said the main strengths he would bring to the position are logic, reasoning, look at all angles before making a decision, and to remember needs before wants.

Jerry said that the major challenge facing our community is keeping up with the cost and commitments that they already have to the citizens of Cedar Springs, while developing the dreams of others in the community. “We have business, residential, and manufacturing areas that cannot be developed because we cannot provide the fundamental services that will draw growth into the city. We need to find ways to repair our infrastructure and roads without having to hope and pray we can find grants,” he said.

NELSON TOWNSHIP

Supervisor Tom Noreen is on the ballot, but he is asking voters to WRITE IN his current Deputy Supervisor, Robyn Britton. Noreen had initially decided to run, but later decided that he would retire and missed the deadline to get his name off of the ballot before the primary. He won the primary over Britton by 20 votes. After the election, he spoke with her, and appointed her as his deputy.

“I thank the voters for their support and confidence over the years,” said Noreen, “but I encourage them to support Robyn.” Noreen said that if he wins, he would be retiring in December or January. Britton would not automatically become supervisor; instead the board would have to appoint either her or someone else.

Robyn Britton

Robyn Britton

Robyn Britton (R): Robyn Britton said she lives 27 minutes from the house she grew up in. “I’ve spent my whole life (48 years) living in either Solon Township or Nelson Township,” said Britton. “I graduated from Cedar Springs in 1986. I’ve been married to my best friend Scott Britton for 27 years and we have 3 amazing children, Hannah, Jesse and Jake. Both Hannah and Jesse are in college and Jake is a junior at Tri County High School. Both my husband and I have owned and operate Britton Builder’s Inc. for the last 25 years. I just recently left my position to start my own endeavor—a renovation company purchasing old homes and putting love back into them. And let’s not forgot my love for farming. We own and operate a 30-head Scottish Highland Farm. You want to talk about up and downs. All my friends that own what they call the ‘Real Cows’ get a chuckle at me because I love my Grass fed, big horn babies.”

Britton said the main reason she is running for office is for her children. “I’ve tried to teach my children if you don’t like something do your best to fix it. Well, if I’m going to ‘Talk the Talk’ I better ‘Walk the Walk.’ I had the fortune to work with some amazing people during my time working for Cedar Springs Police Department; it gave me a real insight on our community and the people servicing our community. It’s a tough job. The biggest thing I learned is if one person tries then others will follow or at least pay attention. I’m not a politician. I just feel that it’s my responsibility to be the best person I can be and try to make the community I raised my children in a place they may want to raise their children in.”

What does she feel she can bring to the position of Supervisor? “Own and operated a building company for nearly 25 years, negotiated buy sell agreement hundreds of thousands dollars, and worked in the corporate world for 15 years. My background has led me to work with architects, engineers, subcontractors, financial institution, state and local government officials etc. I love people and I make no bones about it – I love to talk and meet people listen to their views and ideas, but more importantly I want them to know they matter regards of who they are,” she said.

Britton feels the that the major challenges facing Nelson Township are communication, accountability, and just plain common sense. “Fixing the problems start with the people. Five boards can’t fix everything that’s going on in this community.  If you want this community to prosper it has to be a joint effort.” She feels that the Supervisor and community will have to do it together, and she urges the public to attend their meetings the second Tuesday of every month.

SOLON TOWNSHIP

There are four people running for two positions for Solon Township trustee: incumbent V. Fred Gunnell; Mark S. Hoskins, who has been an interim trustee; Christine M. Witt; and Bruce Gravelin.

Fred Gunnell

Fred Gunnell

V. Fred Gunnell (R): Fred Gunnell is running as a Republican for his seat as Solon Township trustee. He’s lived in Cedar Springs and the surrounding area, including Solon Township, for over 40 years. He graduated from Cedar Springs High School, and married Carollee Crane, who also lived in Solon Township. He graduated from Mich. State Univ. with a Master’s Degree and took some post-graduate work at Western Mich. Univ. and Univ. of Mich. His professional career was at Mich. Tech. Univ. for 25 years. He’s been serving Solon Township for about 22 years. First, as a planning commissioner, and later as a trustee to the Solon Twp. Board since the mid nineties.

Other boards he’s served on include the Michigan Township Association, the Cedar Springs Education Foundation, several Rotary Clubs, Red Flannel Rod and Gun club member, chairman of the trustees of Cedar Springs United Methodist and member of their administrative board, and as President of the Cedar Springs Historical Society.

Mark Hoskins

Mark Hoskins

Mark S. Hoskins (R): Mark Hoskins is running as a Republican for a seat on the Solon Township board. He grew up in the Cedar Springs area and graduated from Cedar Springs High School, as did several of his children. He and his family have lived in Solon Township for the last 11 years. He began working as a realtor in 1985, and currently works for Berkshire Hathaway Home Services in Rockford.

His primary reason for running for office? “As a Christian, I believe it is important to be an active participant in the community in which I live, to have input into decisions that are made and to use my time and ability to serve the residents of Solon Township,” he explained.

Hoskins has some experience in government service. He was elected to a four-year term on the Cedar Springs City Council in 1982, and has served on the Solon Township Planning Commission, Board of Review and Board of Appeals. In 2015, he agreed to fill the remaining term as trustee of the seat vacated by a former member.

Hoskins said his main strength is fiscal responsibility, morals of right and wrong, and just plain common sense. He said he sees Solon’s main challenge as their fire department. “It is my goal to retain our on-call firefighters and medical responders. I believe that losing so many of them is partially a result of our very fluid society. We need improved methods of training and ways to retain those who join the department,” she said.

Christine Witt

Christine Witt

Christine M. Witt (D): Christine Witt is running as a Democrat for a trustee seat on the Solon Township board. She was born in Muskegon, moved to Grand Rapids during college, and has lived in Solon Twp. since 2004. She is married and has two children. She will graduate with a law degree in Janauary, and has worked in local government for the last two years as a deputy clerk and archivist.

What is her primary reason for running? “I care about the community and want to be a part of it. I see Solon Township growing. I’d like to make sure that it retains its rural charm and strong community,” she said.

Witt said she has served on other types of boards in the past, and has a long history of volunteering. “I believe we should all lend a helping hand to keep our community strong,” she noted.

Witt said the main strength she’ll bring to the position is a background rooted in the understanding and analysis of legal issues, current and former work experience in local government, and a desire to expand the work she does in the community.

Witt said she sees Solon’s major challenge as keeping up with growth and the resources necessary to support it. “I would work diligently to understand the issues, examine the information, and hear public input. I would also look for ways to streamline processes and maximize efficiency if needed.”

Dave Gravelin

Bruce Gravelin

Bruce Gravelin (NPA): Bruce Gravelin is running with no party affiliation. He originally came from Ottawa County, but has lived in Solon Township for 32 years (since 1984). He is a Metroligist\Tool & Die Maker at GM.  “I have a wife and two wonderful adult children. I am in my early 60’s and I was born in the early 1950’s,” he said.

Why is he running for office? “I see an opportunity to better my community.  Instead of a division between the other communities within Solon Township I feel we should work together to form a partnership that will benefit us all in the long run,” he explained.

Gravelin said he has served on numerous team problem solving oriented committees while working for GM for the last 33 years. He said his main strength is “a multitude of life skills including ISO-9001 and ISO-14001 Lead Auditor certifications, with on the job work skills which give me a unique insight on how to problem solve and achieve all of the goals that the individual citizens of Solon Township require.”

Gravelin said the major challenge facing Solon Township is that property taxes should be established in a more impartial manner that will benefit individuals, businesses, and the township. He noted that infrastructure also needs a more aggressive strategy to improve the community’s quality of life. He also said there should be more transparency in the decisions made in Solon Township.

VILLAGE OF SAND LAKE

Residents in Sand Lake will be voting for a new Village President, and three seats on the Village Council. Two trustees are running for Village President. Thomas Norton is on the ballot, and Bette Towsley is running as a write-in candidate.

President

Thomas Norton: Thomas Norton is running for Village President. “We live in the village of Sand Lake and my family has been part of that community most of my life. I’m a small buisness owner which started about 2 years ago and has been going very well. I am married and have 3 kids that are very happy to go to the Sand Lake park and I can say are all loved very much by myself and people in the community,” he said.

What is his reason for running? “My main reason for running for Village President is to make sure our road construction project of Lake St. is completed, then to lay out a plan to fix roads throughout the village. Secondary reason is to start working on making sure there are budget standards to continue to have snow clearing of sidewalks, police and fire departments. My third reason for running is to make sure that there is a more open meeting format. The agenda needs to be expanded to have more input from the community during meetings than we have now. For example, two sections for public comment,” he explained.

Norton has served as a trustee on the board for two years of a four-year term, and was elected as a write-in candidate. “I am very happy to have been on the budget committee and balanced the budget while maintaining services,” he said. He has also served on the police committee.

Norton feels the main strength he brings to the office the ability to negotiate. “Since being on the council I have negotiated the reopening of the boat landing, with the majority of the council oddly enough opposed during the meeting by my write in opponent. I also have negotiated the telecommunications contracts, which saved the village thousands of dollars and hadn’t been done in years.”

He said he also brings leadership. “I have led soldiers in the army and have had a knack for vision of where we need to go to put ourselves on solid footing. This is the reason why the majority of the council has had me do negotiations and agreements that would traditionally be done by the village president.”

Norton said he feels the major challenges facing Sand Lake will be roads and budgets, and the next biggest challenge will be “making sure we begin to improve our infrastructure projects and have standards met and enforced when it comes to testing water and enforcing law.”

Bette Towsley

Bette Towsley

Bette Towsley: Bette Towsley is running as a write-in for President of the Village of Sand Lake, a seat her husband Roger Towsley currently holds. She has been married to Roger for almost 54 years. “We came to Sand Lake after living in Trufant on a small farm for about 5 years, and were headed back to the Grand Rapids area. We got sidetracked here and have now lived her about 43 years,” said Bette. “I am a 40-year-old in mind, physical strength and spirit—72 by this world’s time clock.  We are parents of four kind, thoughtful and successful adult children.”

Bette said one of her main reason for running is availability. “I feel availability is very important in daily operations as well as attending informative and often beneficial meetings. I am retired and available on a daily basis. I am physically active, care for people, am free to volunteer and actively serve not just as President of the Village Council, but to serve the community or individuals in whatever capacity as I see occasion or need,” she explained. She noted that there is also another reason. “Recently, there have been concerns  of change that have come to my attention that I feel would not be beneficial for the Village and its residents. As President I would hope to foster a healthy, friendly community for the peace and success of the Village as a whole.”

What is the main strength she would bring to the position? “Availability and willingness to serve whenever and almost whatever is needed. I was Village Clerk about 8 years, custodian for 2 years and have been a council member twice.  As clerk I found everything passed through me—mail, phone calls, communications of every sort; thus I feel it important to have  a good relationship and communication with the Clerk as well as the Treasurer, Police, Fire Dept., DPW and the community,” explained Bette.

The major challenge she sees is the role of President at the meetings. “I do not have the knowledge of much that comes natural to men.  However, I am counting on the understanding of all while I learn, and hope to be able to depend on the Council and Council member Dave Dewey in particular, who is wise and has served as President and Council Member over a period of over 25 years (or more).”

Sand Lake Village trustees – 3 seats

Nyha French

Nyha French

Nyha French: Nyha French is running for Sand Lake Village trustee. She is 36 years old, married, and has four daughters, ages 18, 12, 11 and 9. “I have lived in Sand Lake Most of my life. I grew up in Sand Lake and worked at my grandfather’s hardware store, grandmother’s gift shop, and mowed lawns for those in need,” she said. “I have worked with the people in our community for a long time now. I am also a part of the Sand Lake Fire department and have been a First Responder and Fire Fighter for the past 2 years. I love serving the community in this way. I work at Williamson Family Medicine in Rockford as a Medical Assistant.”

French said her main reason for running for office is to “help improve our little town. To hear the concerns and ideas of our community and help address and or achieve those concerns and ideas. I want to be a part of making our community a better place,” she explained.

What is the main strength she would bring to the position? “I would have an open mind and hear all options before making a decision, not only that but my decision would be based off what is factual and right for our community. I want to hear the people of Sand Lake and what their concerns are for our community and help improve in any way I can.”

Tonia Parkhurst

Tonia Parkhurst

Tonia Parkhurst: Tonia Parkhurst is running for Sand Lake Village trustee. She is 42, and a 17-year resident of the Village of Sand Lake. “I was born and raised in the greater Grand Rapids area. I graduated from Aquinas with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems with a focus in Systems Analysis. I am the Senior Technologist for TrackCore, Inc. located downtown Grand Rapids. I’m happily married with four grown children and two beautiful grandchildren.”

What is her main reason for running? “Sand Lake is facing some major issues and challenges.  I would rather be part of the solution than part of those who gossip and complain after the tough decisions have been made,” she explained.

Parkhurst served on the Village council once before. “I’ve served several years previously on the Village of Sand Lake Council as trustee, including being part of the budget committee.  When I chose not to continue in the trustee position several years ago, I continued my service on the Planning Committee for the Village of Sand Lake.” She has also served as a leader in Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and filled various positions in Boy Scouts.

What is the main strength she’ll bring to the board? “In addition to the experience gained from serving previously on the board, I bring a strong analytical mindset, a desire to do what is best for the Village and a strong background in technology and problem solving.”

The major challenges she sees facing Sand Lake include limited funds, poor road conditions, limited community involvement and communication, as well as needed image improvement of the downtown district. “These challenges cannot be overcome by a single person; it will be a group/community effort to overcome them,” she said.

Incumbents Danielle Hardenburg and James Ward are also running for their seats as trustees, but did not return a candidate survey.

Proposals on ballot for all of Kent County:

John Ball Zoo and Grand Rapids Public Museum millage: The John Ball Zoo and Grand Rapids Public Museum are seeking a millage to establish dedicated funding for the care of animals and artifacts, to provide enhanced educational programs and for the repair and renovation of exhibits. This proposal will create a dedicated source of funding for these publicly owned institutions. This is a 10-year, .44 millage that starts in 2016 and ends in 2025. If passed, the proposal is an annual increase of $37.44 per year or $3.12 per month, for the average homeowner in Kent County. All millage dollars will be split equally between both institutions and go through an independent financial audit every year.

Kent County 911 surcharge: The ballot question asks to increase the current 9-1-1 surcharge you already pay for phone service in Kent County. An additional $0.70/month per line for a total of $1.15/month would address 9-1-1 Dispatch technology improvements and fire dispatch operations. Residents with one phone would pay approximately $13.80 a year per phone. Visit https://accesskent.com/Sheriff/surcharge.htm for more information on who the money would be used.

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Candidates will help bridge communication gap


 

I have known Ted Sabinas for over 35 years. I have witnessed him give the majority of his life to serving the students and families of our community. I find him to be an honorable man possessing integrity. Even though retired, he again feels called to serve.

I have come to know Mistie Bowser over the past several months and witnessed her commitment and honesty. While a widowed mother of four, I appreciate her willingness to serve.

They both assured me they would respectfully ask the difficult questions, do their own research, and talk with our trained/experienced educational team for real answers. I believe they will serve as a trusting and transparent voice for all tax payers, educators, and most importantly our students.

Based on my direct conversations with Ted and Mistie (no rumors or hearsay), I am convinced they are the best choices for school board representatives. I believe Ted and Mistie’s motivation is based only on their commitment to making CSPS a place where children will become all they are meant to be, and will help bridge the current communication gap between staff and administration in a respectful way that will ease the current division and concerns of staff and help the administration find ways to connect and rebuild unity for the good of our kids.

For this important decision, I would ask that you gather accurate facts directly from Ted and Mistie before you cast your vote.

Tim Wolfe, Nelson Township

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Cedar Springs Board of Education candidates


 

By Judy Reed

It has been one of the most volatile campaigns for the Cedar Springs Board of Education in recent years. Four people are running for two six-year seats. Originally there were five candidates, but Rita Reimbold dropped out. The other four are:

Joe Marckini

Joe Marckini

Joseph Marckini: Joe Marckini has served on the Board of Education for the last nine years, and is looking for six more. He grew up in the Walker area, and Joe and his family moved to Algoma Township in 1996. He and his wife, Elizabeth, have two daughters, Emily and Maria. He said that he and his wife desire to serve the community and especially any organization which helps educate and support kids. He has been employed by the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) Local #7 for over 30 years as a sheet metal construction worker.

Joe said he is running for another term to ensure that every student receives fair and equal opportunities. “If re-elected, I will continue advocating for all students’ right to a S.T.R.E.A.M. education (Science, Technology, Recess, Engineering, Arts & Math). I will continue making KIDS FIRST decisions, supporting more intervention for at-risk students and more life-skills and trade skills training opportunities.” He said he would also continue to be a voice for education at the federal, state and local levels. He also wants to continue the changes he has seen under Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn. “I have been a part of bringing the current Superintendent to Cedar Springs. Under her leadership we have made many tough but important changes. So many positive things have happened over the last few years and I would like to be a part of the continued improvements.”

Besides serving on the Board of Education, Joe has also served on the Cedar Springs Executive Board PTO, Kent Intermediate School Board Association, National School Board Association (NSBA) Federal Relation Network, Friends of Kent County Schools, NEOLA policy committee, Cedar Springs Parks and Recreation, Cedar Springs Public Schools negotiation committee, and is the representative of Cedar Springs Public Schools Board of Education to the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB).

Joe said that his main strength is the ability to make hard but necessary decisions. “I am a fierce advocate for kids. I am not on the board to make friends or get a pat on the back. I am here to make sure Cedar Springs Public Schools follows all rules and policies and is fair in its decision making regarding students and staff. I want to be sure that the parents in our district know that their child is not only getting an excellent education but will also be treated fairly and equitably and have not only the support of their teachers but also the staff, Superintendent and school board. As a member of the board I am often regarded as the policy-enforcer, I make sure we are operating within the law and within the guidelines we have set up for ourselves.”

Joe sees funding as the major challenge facing the district. “Funding and resources has an impact on everything we do and attempt to do. Security, smaller classroom sizes, busing, professional development, infrastructure improvements, they all rely on funding. That’s why being an advocate at all levels of government is so important. We have to keep working for our kids to ensure they get what they need and deserve as citizens of this great democracy.”

Ted Sabinas

Ted Sabinas

Ted Sabinas: Ted Sabinas and his wife Dianne have lived in Cedar Springs for 39 years.  He was a teacher in the district for 34 years and served as a Cedar Springs High School coach of cross country, track, and several other sports for 37 years. Their two daughters, Mrs. Kahler and Mrs K (Kacprzyk) graduated from Cedar Springs and are currently teaching in our district. Their grandchildren also attend school here. “I have been committed to Cedar Springs for 39 years and feel strongly about the opportunity to run for the school board to help impact and make a positive difference in our school district,” said Ted.

Ted said he his primary reason for running for office is to “bring a background of teaching, coaching and educational leadership, along with my passion for our district, and to help guide and participate in the decisions being made as they impact our school district, community, staff and most importantly our students,” he explained.

Sabinas said the main strength he would bring to the office lies in his years of teaching and coaching experience, and his collaborative training. “[My] teaching and coaching experience, along with my commitment to our district, can help me guide and participate in the decisions being made as they impact our school district. With my collaborative training I have the ability to see what needs to be accomplished and how to get to the correct outcome together.

“While serving as the Cedar Springs Association President and Head of Negotiations for 17 years, I was trained and practiced collaborative negotiations with past superintendents and Boards of Education with very successful outcomes,” he noted. “I have a proven track record of demonstrating collaboration, active listening, and driving results over the years.” He said that he and the teams he worked with created a culture in which all problems can be discussed openly and solved with support from all involved using the collaborative method.

Sabinas said that our district faces many challenges. “Challenges such as the district revenues and expenses; being responsible to the community that elected the board; and creating a district wide positive image, are just a few of the many challenges that a board member faces,” he said. “We must address these challenges with research, hope, and caution, and determine if the board decisions are the correct direction to follow for our students in Cedar Springs. As a board member I will always place students as the main priority but also keep the community and staff informed and seek input from students, community and the staff.”

Heidi Reed

Heidi Reed

Heidi Reed: Heidi Reed is a wife, mother and businesswoman who lives in the city of Cedar Springs. She has been married for 33 years to Steve Reed, a teacher.    Together they have three boys, Trey, Thomas and Trevor. Trey Reed, graduated from CSHS and recently Cornerstone University. Thomas and Trevor are 10th graders at CSHS. Heidi is Vice President/Associate Real Estate Broker for Red Oak Management Co., Inc. For 27 years she has been responsible for property management issues, finance and compliance for 1,300 families at 48 locations in Michigan.

Heidi said she is running for school board because she has a sense of duty to this community and is community centered. “I will keep kids first in decisions, by asking the question, who benefits? I will be financially focused and look for the highest and best use of the taxpayer dollars. I enjoy policy and finance work. I have no other agenda for seeking this position other than the desire to do what I can to help Cedar Springs Public Schools achieve and improve. Being in affordable housing, I see everyday, the nexus of how important education is to our society.”

Heidi has been active on school and business committees. She serves on the Cedar Springs Public Schools Sinking Fund Committee 2010 to present; the Cedar Springs Public Schools: Strategic Planning Committee 2015-2016; and the Cedar Springs Public Schools District Improvement Team, to name a few.

Heidi said the main strength she will bring to the board is leadership. “I will bring:

  • Constant Leadership-knowledge of our students, educators and facilities.  I have been attending board meetings for a year in preparation for this position.
  • Balanced Leadership-understanding of the issues and opportunities we face as a district.
  • Engaged Leadership-the passion to lead forward.”

Heidi said there are multiple challenges facing the district, but the first is meeting all students’ needs with limited funding. “We are facing budgetary and operational issues now in our district that impact not just the students and their futures, but the economic and social health of Cedar Springs. I have the experience, judgment and desire to step up to these issues and listen, learn and lead. My corporate experience of blending multiple government programs together for success will be an asset to the school board.”

Mistie Bowser

Mistie Bowser

Mistie Bowser:  Mistie Bowser has been living in Courtland Township for 16 years. She said she has loved living here with her four children—Emily Umphrey, a 2013 CSHS graduate; Cameron Umphrey, a 2016 CSHS graduate; Myla Umphrey a junior at CSHS; and Elizabeth Bowser, a fourth-grader at Cedar View.
“I’m a spokeswoman for the American Lung Association, where I travel and share my story, which helps bring more lung cancer awareness to help fight this disease,” she explained. “We are a very academic, arts and athletic family. I’ve been very involved with our football, hockey, soccer, cross country, track, theatre, advanced and resource learning programs.”

Mistie is a very involved mom and community member who takes great pride in where she chose to raise her children. “I’m running for the Cedar Springs School Board because I want to have a direct hand in the decisions being made that will directly affect our students education and extra curricular activities,” she explained. “I will research the options to ensure that I will be making the best decisions for our Cedar Springs students, which my youngest is only in 4th grade so I have many years to stay vested. Our students deserve the best and most competitive education and I want to ensure that happens by putting students first with our staff and community right behind them, making a successful collaborative triangle.  I want to serve my commuity of Cedar Springs by working hard for you on our Cedar Springs School Board.”

Mistie has served on several boards and committees, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for nine years as member, treasurer, vice president and president; American Lung Association Regional Leadership Council as Chairwoman; the Mothers Of Preschoolers(MOPS) steering committee board; coached AYSO soccer; senior all night part committee, and more.

Mistie said the main strength she would bring to the board would be “my strong communication skills, understanding the importance and experience of being fiscally responsible, along with ensuring that I am and others are held accountable for all the decisions being made. I bring the perspective of a parent of a student and athlete in our district. Before voting on an item I will ensure that I have all the information from all sides so I can make a well-informed decision, and vote for what’s best for our students. I bring many years of leading non-profit organization boards with successful collaborative and respectful communication skills. I believe in everyone being fiscally responsible and accountable for all decisions being made. I will bring open communication along with always putting our students, staff and community front and center.”

“The major challenge in our district right now is the over 50 staff members that have left since January 2016, the fiscal decisions that have been made that are still not answered by our administration, and the communication and the morale of our staff and our community. Our district is hurting along with our community over some decisions that have been made over the past 2 years. I agree; I don’t like a lot of the decisions made either. My plan to address these problems is to communicate more, hold people accountable for their decisions, bring collaboration back, and use our finances responsibly by ensuring that money is only spent if it will directly affect our students. My biggest goal is to listen and communicate with our students, staff and community.”

Look for city and township candidates in next week’s Post!

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We owe positive change to school board


NOTICE: The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Writers are limited to one letter per month. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to PostScripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

* We only print positive letters about candidates one week prior to the election.


 

 

We owe positive change to school board

My sons received an excellent education at Cedar Springs Schools. Even though they graduated several years ago, I still attend school board meetings to keep abreast of the strides our district is making. There are so many things happening which are benefitting all our children. The district is moving in a positive direction and we owe much of that change to our school board. Children are always the first consideration when our board members make decisions.

I have great pride in knowing the Cedar Springs School district has high standards and is very passionate about the education of our students. With such a responsibility, it is important to carefully vote for candidates who will continue to help improve our educational system. This is exactly why I believe Joe Marckini and Heidi Reed are the perfect choices for Cedar Springs School Board. On November 8, make the right decision and vote for our students—vote for Joe and Heidi.

Sally Smith, Nelson Township

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Marckini and Reed the best candidates


NOTICE: The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Writers are limited to one letter per month. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to PostScripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

* We only print positive letters about candidates one week prior to the election.


 

 

Marckini and Reed the best candidates

I am fairly new to the Cedar Springs area. Prior to this summer, I knew nothing about ANY of the School Board candidates. I was a relatively blank slate.  I recognized that I needed more information, so I researched the candidates and the politics surrounding the School Board.

As part of my research, I attended two Sabinas & Bowser Meet & Greet events.  I had hoped to hear them speak about their student centered vision.  Instead, I heard Ms. Bowser & Mr. Sabinas misrepresent information regarding district finances and the administration.

The outcome of this election will have a direct impact on my child’s/our children’s education and future.

Therefore, I want to share with you the truthful FACTS I have learned from my research.

Sabinas & Boswer False Statement:  Between January and August 2016, 55 Staff have left.

Truth:  I have reviewed every BOE Minutes from January through August 2016, and have identified only 53 names that have gone before the board. Of those 53, 6 were internal moves, and still employed by the district, while 7 were temporary positions and/or coaches. The remaining 40 names I have categorized for analysis.

Licensed Staff – 6 (15%); Certified Teachers -7 (18%); Non-Certified Roles -16 (43%); Retirees -11(28%)

As you can see, the actual number of TEACHERS who have left the district is 7.  ONLY 7!

Sabinas & Bowser False Statement: The Board does not meet with community members.

Truth:  Mr. Sabinas sent an email to the board, and requested a meeting with each board member.  However, it is a violation of the Open Meetings Act for board members to individually meet with the same person on one issue.

For additional examples how they have misrepresented the facts, including “Where is the 1.3 Million over budget”, please email CedarVote@gmail.com with subject line – Post Article.

My research has proven to me that Joe Marckini and Heidi Reed are BY FAR the best candidates for our children, our school board, and our community!

Please vote for Joe Marckini and Heidi Reed on November 8th!

Thank you, Linda Keim, Nelson Township

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Candidates for August primary


 

Election time is here, and there are a lot of candidates running for both local and state government. Voters will go to the polls on Tuesday, August 2 to make their selections. Because there are so many candidates to cover, and we couldn’t possibly fit bios in of them all, the Post chose to send questions only to those running for Kent County Sheriff and contested Supervisor positions in area townships.

Kent County Sheriff 

Five people are running for Kent County Sheriff—four Republicans and one Democrat. They are running for a four-year term.

Sheriff Larry Stelma

Sheriff Larry Stelma

Lawrence A. Stelma (R) – Larry Stelma is the current Sheriff in Kent County, and has held that position since 2000. He was born and raised in Kent County. “In the early 60’s, my father purchased land and a business in Cedar Springs and it is the same land on which we live today, located in Solon Township,” said Stelma. He graduated from Creston High School, the bible college now known as Cornerstone University, and has been married to his wife, Iris for 44 years. They have two adult daughters and one grandchild. “I remain active with all things outdoors and on our farm, raising horses and Christmas trees,” he said.

Stelma joined the Sheriff’s Office in 1972 as a corrections officer and worked his way up through the chain of command, serving in every capacity and division within the Sheriff’s office. This included training and graduation from the FBI National Academy, the National Sheriff’s Institute and the U.S. Secret Service Dignitary Protection Academy. In 1999 he was appointed Undersheriff, and then was elected Sheriff in 2000, and reelected in 2004, 2008, and 2012, by overwhelming margins.

Stelma wants to run for office because he said that his father instilled in him a service attitude at an early age, and service is in his DNA. “My life’s calling has been serving our community as an officer with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. I am running for office again simply because it’s my passion and calling,” he explained. He said that over the years as Sheriff, he has initiated over 40 new initiatives and programs that help to keep schools a safe place for learning (such as township patrols and the school resource officer program), provided the mechanism for more efficient law enforcement (such as township patrols, the Cedar Springs Police Department consolidation project, and dispatch consolidations), reduced jail populations, and maintained a crime rate half the national average. He’d like the chance to continue these initiatives and complete those in progress.

Stelma says the major challenge facing law enforcement is the ever increasing demand for more and more services brought on by a growing population with ever increasing expectations. “These expectations are driven by society’s obsession with technology, drugs, and violence, and law enforcement needs to stay current on how crime is facilitated by these influences and how these influences can help solve crime. All of this is constrained by tighter budgets,” he explained, noting that expectations increase while resources decrease. He said the only way to deal with these complex issues is to have the ability to develop and maintain strong strategic relationships with community leaders, education, mental health and medical providers, and faith-based community. “These relationships have served this community well, and enable me to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow,” he said.

Stacy Browe

Stacey Browe

Stacey M. Browe (R) – Stacey Browe is a certified police officer with 9 years of prior law enforcement experience. Her experience in Michigan includes 7 years as a Certified Police Officer for the City of Wayland. “During this time, I was responsible for handling every aspect of assigned calls including reports, follow-up, and subsequent investigation. Following my time with Wayland, I worked for two years as a Certified Police Officer for the City of Swansboro, North Carolina,” she said.  After missing her family, she decided to move back to Michigan and currently lives in Kentwood.

I am running for the Office of Sheriff because the people of Kent County deserve a leader as their Sheriff. I will be a Sheriff who is visible and accessible in the county every day of my term. Under my leadership, the Kent County Sheriff’s Office will become a model for law enforcement agencies throughout the state,” she said.

Browe said she will bring the experience acquired through 9 years of certified law enforcement, including investigations, field training, crisis intervention, drug interdiction, and numerous other specialized areas of policing to this Sheriff’s Office. “I will use my experience to devastate the heroin industry in Kent County. I will protect Kent County from terrorism and related crimes and I will protect the constitutional rights of my constituents. I will also work to eliminate dispatching fees, which are fees unethically assessed to local units of government for dispatching services, in addition to the taxes already paid for the same services. I will support all townships, villages, and cities including those that wish to operate their own police departments as well as those preferring a contractual agreement.”

Browe said the biggest challenge facing the Kent County Sheriff’s Office is multifaceted. “There are numerous county residents upset by the violence and terrorism nationwide. Residents look to the Sheriff’s Office for protection and leadership in times like these. Sadly, other candidates including the current Sheriff have been mostly silent on these issues and have not articulated any plan for protecting the people they wish to serve. My plan is to actively monitor terror alerts and keep my staff abreast of relevant information on a daily – not monthly basis. I will also begin requiring all law enforcement personnel to complete counter-terrorism as well as active shooter training and I will be in daily communication with our county’s emergency management coordinator. I will work with and be in regular communication with the Michigan State Police as well as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to make sure all residents of Kent County are safe and secure in their homes, places of businesses, and public venues. That being said, The Sheriff’s Office, State Police, and local law enforcement will be conducting all enforcement activity that does occur in Kent County except activity that involves violations of federal law.”

John Stedman

John Stedman

John G. Stedman (R) – John Stedman was born and raised in the Heart of Grand Rapids, Mich. His family later moved to Wyoming, where he still lives today. “I have been in my current home for over 25 years in the Wyoming panhandle. I have managed and owned businesses since I was 17 years old. In the late 70s I followed in my father’s footsteps, opening my own insurance company, which has operated for over 40 years. In 2004 I purchased the building at 508 28th Street SW and US 131 where I had been a tenant since 1986. I am a dedicated family man with two wonderful children, Jon and Kari and celebrated 40 years of marriage to my high school sweetheart Susan in June,” he said.

Why is he running for Sheriff? “Times are changing in Kent County and we must change with it. There are several diverse communities that make up our great county and we need someone who has experience working with many of them. This is to ensure that we are increasing equality in a time when the divide between the community and police is growing. In addition, the Sheriff’s department makes up a large portion of the county’s general fund. We cannot arrest our way out of certain issues and our attempts to do so are currently unsustainable and costing taxpayers too much. We must use a business mindset in order to identify inefficiencies and adjust where needed,” explained Stedman.

He noted that he is proud of his role in developing  a ministry that seeks to help those who are returning from prison so they may lead productive lives and not contribute to the counties 80 percent recidivism rate.

Stedman sees his main strength has having a business background that has molded him into someone with keen financial sense who can identify budgetary issues and implement proper remedies. “I have managed a diverse staff of employees over the decades and understand organizational development. The staff of the Kent County Sheriff’s Department deserve to have the best opportunities in their careers. Reactionary cost cutting that decreases law enforcement jobs will not be tolerated under my term as Sheriff.”

Stedman said that the main challenge facing Kent County is a heroin epidemic. “The lack of recovery resources in the county, coupled with a financially wasteful ‘War on Drugs’ mentality is doing nothing but fueling the fire. We must look at individuals such as Chief Leonard Campanello, of Gloucester, Mass. and other proactive law enforcement leaders around the country and implement solutions that will decrease use and save lives especially the county’s youth,” he said.

Timothy Lewis (R) – Did not return any info on his candidacy.

Michael B. Scruggs (D) – Did not return any info on his candidacy.

Township Supervisor Candidates

Algoma Township has two people vying for the seat of township supervisor—both Republicans. They are running for a four-year term.

Nancy Clary

Nancy Clary

Nancy Clary – Nancy Clary is the current supervisor in Algoma Township. “I have lived in Algoma for the past 29 years and have provided public service to the community since my arrival. I was born and raised in Montcalm County where I served as Montcalm County Administrator for 17 years. My husband, Jack R. Clary Esq. and I have 4 grown married children and 7 grandchildren.

Clary said she is running again because she’d like to continue the collaborative work on projects with other units of Government and the State that are now ongoing in the Township. “It has been my good fortune to work over the years with many of the excellent people who are in leadership roles in the area and we have mutually respectful relationships. Those working relationships are very helpful when problems need to be solved that require services and cooperation with adjoining communities. The Archery Center on 10 Mile Road is an example of what can be accomplished with collaboration. River’s Edge Park is now being expanded and Rockford Public Schools will be partnering with the Township to provide an outdoor learning experience for students,” she said.

Her past experience includes: Algoma Township Planning Commission member for 11 years, Trustee for 7 years, Deputy Supervisor and Currently Supervisor.  “I am a founding Board Member of a Private Children’s Charity as well as Past President of the following:  Michigan Association of County Administrative Officers, Michigan Association of County Personnel Officers, Michigan Association of Governmental Computer Users and United Way of Michigan, Public Services Sector.”

Clary said her main strength is the strong regional relationships she has maintained to create greater collaboration with the West Michigan Community. “I have developed and monitored multi-year, multi-million dollar municipal budgets that ensure long-term financial security for Algoma’s assets and services.  I have the endorsements of the following leaders and individuals:  State Senator Peter MacGregor, State Representative Rob VerHeulen, State Representative Ken Yonker, State Representative Jon Bumstead, Kent County Sheriff Lawrence Stelma, County Commissioner Tom Antor, County Commissioner Diane Jones, County Commissioner Harold Voorhees, Former Supervisor Dennis Hoemke, and Kent County 63rd District Judge, Retired Steven R. Servaas.”

“The major challenge facing our district is continuing to maintain the rural character of the Township while accommodating development where desired and assuring that the rights of all property owners are considered and protected,” she noted.

Kevin Green

Kevin Green

Kevin Green (R) – Kevin Green is a former State Representative running to be Algoma’s next Supervisor. “I grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, have lived in Kent County for 20 years and am now living in Algoma Township for almost 5 years,” he said. “I own a small business helping property owners with zoning, planning issues and outdoor advertising. I have two beautiful young children, Elliot, 7, and Meadow, 6, that attend a Rockford elementary school.”

Green said he is running for supervisor because he wants to give a fresh perspective to the community while using his education and professional experience as a leader. “As a State Representative I worked hard for our residents for 6 years. I also bring experience as a business manager and a former City Councilman. As the House Whip, I used years of proven negotiating skills to bring people together and get things done in a timely manner. Helping our Algoma residents is my number one concern,” he explained.

Green said he has been a leader in many non-profit organizations including the Lions Club, Chambers of Commerce, Sons of American Legion and more. “I recently joined Moose Club and Rockford Sportsman Club. I started my career in Cedar Springs over 20 years ago, as an intern for former City Manager Frank Walsh,” he recalled.

Green believes that treating people with kindness and compassion is his main strength. As the former House Whip, it was my job to bring people of many backgrounds together to get things done for our State. People deserve to be treated with respect and I bring the sense of true public service to our residents,” he said. “I am highly skilled business manager, negotiator and mediator.”

Green sees over taxation as a major challenge facing Algoma Township. “Over taxation on residential property is a huge concern of Algoma’s residents and must be addressed by utilizing fair assessments. Protecting private property owner rights and our residents’ freedom of decision-making must not be eroded any further than it already has been. We must be diligent in preserving the character of our community by maintaining a quaint rural atmosphere and welcoming small town values,” he said.

Nelson Township

You will see two names on the ballot for Nelson Township Supervisor, both Republican. However, we found out that one of the candidates—current Supervisor Tom Noreen—has decided to withdraw from the election. “I just don’t  have the time,” said Noreen. The other candidate is:

Robyn Britton

Robyn Britton

Robyn Britton (R) – Robyn Britton said she lives 27 minutes from the house she grew up in. “I’ve spent my whole life (48 years) living in either Solon Township or Nelson Township,” said Britton. “I graduated from Cedar Springs in 1986. I’ve been married to my best friend Scott Britton for 27 years and we have 3 amazing children, Hannah, Jesse and Jake. Both Hannah and Jesse are in college and Jake is a junior at Tri County High School. Both my husband and I have owned and operate Britton Builder’s Inc. for the last 25 years. I just recently left my position to start my own endeavor—a renovation company purchasing old homes and putting love back into them. And let’s not forgot my love for farming. We own and operate a 30-head Scottish Highland Farm. You want to talk about up and downs. All my friends that own what they call the ‘Real Cows’ get a chuckle at me because I love my Grass fed, big horn babies.”

Britton said the main reason she is running for office is for her children. “I’ve tried to teach my children if you don’t like something do your best to fix it. Well, if I’m going to ‘Talk the Talk’ I better ‘Walk the Walk.’ I had the fortune to work with some amazing people during my time working for Cedar Springs Police Department; it gave me a real insight on our community and the people servicing our community. It’s a tough job. The biggest thing I learned is if one person tries then others will follow or at least pay attention. I’m not a politician. I just feel that it’s my responsibility to be the best person I can be and try to make the community I raised my children in a place they may want to raise their children in.”

What does she feel she can bring to the position of Supervisor? “Own and operated a building company for nearly 25 years, negotiated buy sell agreement hundreds of thousands dollars, and worked in the corporate world for 15 years. My background has lead me to work with architects, engineers, subcontractors, financial institution, state and local government officials etc. I love people and I make no bones about it – I love to talk and meet people listen to their views and ideas, but more importantly I want them to know they matter regards of who they are,” she said.

Britton feels the that the major challenges facing Nelson Township are communication, accountability, and just plain common sense. “Fixing the problems start with the people. Five boards can’t fix everything that’s going on in this community.  If you want this community to prosper it has to be a joint effort.” She feels that the Supervisor and community will have to do it together, and she urges the public to attend their meetings the second Tuesday of every month.

Oakfield Township 

There are two candidates running for Supervisor in Oakfield Township, both Republicans. They are running for a four-year term.

William Greg Dean

William Greg Dean

William G. Dean (R)– Greg Dean is the current Supervisor in Oakfield Township and has been for the last 24 years. He was born in Oakfield Township 62 years ago and has lived there his entire life. Besides serving as Township Supervisor, he also drives truck for a living. He is married and has five children.

Dean said that his main reason for running for office is to ensure the township remains on sound footing, as they are now.

Dean believes that his main strength is that he practices excellent fiscal management of township funds and budgets and will continue to do so. “The township has no debt, and we borrow no money,” he explained. “We pay cash for everything and will continue to do so as long as I remain Supervisor.”

He said the main challenge facing Oakfield is the paving of more roads and funding Fire Department operations. “This is done by strong fiscal management,” he said.

Paul H. Decess (R) – He provided no info on his candidacy.

Solon Township

There are two candidates running for Supervisor in Solon Township, both Republicans. They are running for a four-year term.

Robert Ellick

Robert Ellick

Robert Ellick (R) – Bob Ellick is the current Supervisor in Solon Township and has been for 12 years. He is 63 years old and has owned a home and lived in Solon Twp. for 44 years. He and his wife have raised three sons in Solon. Ellick is a self-employed builder, semi retired, in addition to being supervisor. Prior to that he was a trustee for four years, trustee. He has also been a state certified building inspector for 10 years.

Ellick said his main reason for running for office is “to help make Solon Township a better place to grow families and businesses, while impacting the rural character of the Township as little as possible, and also to make certain that the residents get the best service possible at the most economical rate possible.”

Ellick has also served on the Cedar Springs Public Library board for the last four or five years, the last two years as Chair. He has also served on the Solon Zoning Board of Appeals, Planning Commission, and the market committee member and chair for a couple of years.

Ellick said the main strength he brings to the position is “a good understanding of the job and all its constitutional and fiscal responsibilities, and to keep the Township running in the green with a good fund balance for our future. We do not take our lead from the federal government,” he said.

He said one of the biggest challenges in government is money and patience. “It seems that there is never enough of either to go around. But zoning, public water and sewer, traffic/roads are big issues in the Township, particularly with the 17 Mile and White creek interchange.”

Jerrod Roberts (R) – He provided no information about his candidacy.

For a complete list of candidates running for office in your area, and a list of proposals, download the pdf below:

CandidatesAugust2016.pdf

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LOCATION CHANGE FOR CANDIDATE FORUM


 

Tuesday, October 28, 6:30 p.m. at Hilltop Admin building, 3rd floor boardroom

The November election is right around the corner, and there are seven people vying for four positions on the Cedar Springs City Council. There will be a candidate forum open to the public on Tuesday, October 28, at 6:30 p.m. in the 3rd floor boardroom, at the Hilltop Administration building (corner of Main and Muskegon). The forum will be hosted by the Community Action Network and the Cedar Springs Post.

The candidates will be asked several questions, and the public will also have a chance to ask some questions through the moderator. There will also be time to talk one on one with the candidates at the end.

Ken Benham, who served for 8 years, is not running again, so his position his open, along with incumbent Mark Fankhauser’s, who is running again. Fankhauser, former council member Pamela Conley, and DDA Chair Perry Hopkins, are all competing for those two seats. As part of the recall side of the election, incumbent Ashley Bremmer is running against Molly Nixon, and incumbent Patricia Troost is running against Rose Powell.

To check out candidate info click here.

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Candidates for Cedar Springs City Council


 

There are seven people running for four seats on the Cedar Springs City Council. This year’s ballot will look a little different, however. It is the first election under the new law dealing with recalls. There will be three people vying for two seats, and then the two candidates facing recall, Patricia Troost and Ashley Bremmer, are each running against another opponent. The voter simply votes for one or the other.

Running for two seats:

Mark Fankhauser

Mark Fankhauser

Mark Fankhauser was appointed to finish out another councilor’s term in 2012, and is now up for election. He has served as mayor for the last year, and is seeking reelection to continue serving the people of Cedar Springs. Fankhauser has lived in the district 33 years, and is a Captain-EMS Coordinator for the Grand Rapids Fire Department.

The Post asked, what previous experience/skills do you have that you could use in this office? He said he has attended multiple Michigan Municipal League Conferences, which are designed to educate public officials. He has also served on the Board of Directors for the Rockford Community Credit Union for the last 14 years. He has also been active with the Labor movement, holding several officer positions within the organizations he has worked for.

Fankhauser feels the most important issue facing the City of Cedar Springs is proactive improvement of the infrastructure, which protects the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Cedar Springs.

The accomplishments he is most proud of in his term on the Council are: First, seeing a dynamic re-purpose of the property at 95 N. Main Street, now the future home of the Cedar Springs Brewing Company. This was once a vacated building/lot in need; now a unique business that will complement the other businesses within Cedar Springs. Second, would be the recent transition to the Kent County Sheriff Department providing police service. Albeit unique changes, yes; these changes were based on facts, not opinions or emotions.

Perry Hopkins

Perry Hopkins

Perry Hopkins has lived in Cedar Springs since 2010. He is a naturopath, therapeutic body work practitioner, Dr of Metaphysics, and owner/operator of Kin of Hope Natural Health & Perry’s Place llc for herbs, teas, and more…!

The Post asked what previous experience or skills could he use in office? He is involved with multiple boards/ committees in the Cedar Springs community, including a trustee on the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, a trustee on the Kent Theatre Board, the Community Action Network Board, Cedar Springs Planning Commission, and Chairman of the Cedar Springs DDA. He also serves on various event committees in Cedar Springs. He said he is most proud of being a part of the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce and bringing more events and happenings to the Cedar Spring Community.

Hopkins said he was prompted to run for office when he noticed there was a shortage of nonbiased citizens running for city council.

Hopkins feels the most important issue facing our district is being divided. “As a community we need to work together and help the community as one entity grow and become strongly united. The only way to make this happen is to work with every person, business, committee, board, group, or organization that has the community’s best interest in mind,” he said.

Pamela Conley

Pamela Conley

Pamela Conley has lived in Cedar Springs 15 years. She is a teacher and coach at  Forest Hills Central High School. The previous skills and experience she brings include one term on the City Council, as well as terms on the Cedar Springs Board of Education, Cedar Springs Library board, PTO Board of directors, and the Cedar Springs Garden Club.

Conley said she is running for office again because she feels a strong responsibility that citizens need to participate in local government, and she was asked by a large number of neighbors and fellow citizens to seek another seat.

What does she think is the most important issue facing the community? “We have the perception that the local citizens are not being including in the decision-making process in our community. Decisions about the image of the community as well as the control of and management of Skinner Field have been made with little or no opportunity for input from the citizens.”

What was she most proud of accomplishing while on council previously? “During my term on the council we established Veteran’s Memorial Park and made substantive improvements to the water/sewer system,” she said.

Running for one seat:

Ashley Bremmer

Ashley Bremmer

Ashley Bremmer, one of the council members named in the recall, is running for her seat. She has lived in Cedar Springs 9-1/2 years. Previous experience/skills include serving on the Council since 2011, and serving on the planning commission prior to that.

Bremmer said she initially decided to serve on council because a member resigned and there was a seat that needed to be filled for the remainder of that term. “I decided to apply and I was the only applicant. That November I ran, unopposed, for the election. I decided to be on city council because I wanted to see the direction of where the city was going, be a part of the positive changes for the city, and make sure that the city was a good and safe place to raise my family. I had no, and still have no hidden agenda to be on city council. I take each issue as it comes, and try to make the best decision at the time, for the city.”

Bremmer says there are many important issues facing the city. “We have a tight budget, the streets and sidewalks need work, we have a new contract with Kent County Sheriffs Department that are all important. I think the really important issues that are facing the city are being sidetracked by personal agendas, hidden motives, hurt feelings, and people that are making a mockery of our council and city.”

There are several things Bremmer is proud of accomplishing while serving, including the bathrooms at the staging area, the Cedar Springs Brewery coming to town, and the sidewalks that did get replaced. What she is personally proud of is “representing my city and the council in a respectful and dignified manner. I have not lashed out when lies were spread, the council became divided and even took part in recalling me. I have been present for council meetings when there were tough decisions to be made. And most importantly, I respected the diversity of our council, without trying to influence them or use outside sources to get my way.”

Molly Nixon

Molly Nixon

Molly Nixon is running against Ashley Bremmer. She graduated from Cedar Springs High School in 2001, and moved back to Cedar Springs in 2008. She is living in a home her family built in the 1800s, and that she grew up in. She is a Central Station Dispatcher at EPS Security, and a nursing student at Grand Rapids Community College. She says that her interactions with the general public through her employers for the last 15 years have given her skills she can use on the council. “I have learned to keep my professionalism and hear what is being said in the face of anger, fear, and character attacks. I bring a civility that the council has lacked at times. In the event that I do not persuade other council members to see things my way we are still neighbors, and we will leave the meeting respecting each other. I believe that facts, not people, are up for discussion.”

What prompted Nixon to run for Council? “I have been in support of coming to an arrangement with the Red Flannel Festival since it was first an issue. In the time that I have been engaged with the political process, I have noticed that the council operated on pride and secrecy. Calling closed meetings in situations that are questionable at best. They also rely too heavily on attorney client privilege. In sorting through the council documents I found property bought by the city for no reason other than it was a good deal, decisions against the express wishes of residents, placing restrictions on parking vehicles on private property, and property that was bought with the purpose of building a new library left vacant for reasons that I still do not fully understand. Some of these issues have been resolved, but that is only because the public has been voting in council members who are accountable.”

Nixon thinks the most pressing problem is that City Hall is “a place of secret meetings and make it up as you go rules.” But she sees another problem as well. “I also seek to reclaim Cedar Springs as my home. It always was, and always will be Red Flannel Town, USA. I want to put that back on every street corner of this town. The personal pride of a few people alone erased that. Feelings were hurt and the discussion was ended prematurely to suit the personal comfort of the city officials involved.”

Running for one seat:

Patricia Troost

Patricia Troost

Patricia Troost one of the council members named in the recall, is running for her seat. She is currently serving as Mayor Pro-Tem. She has lived in Cedar Springs for five years, and is a Paralegal, at Reisinger Law Firm, PLLC . She said that skills and experience she brings to council include, “Research knowledge and being able to look at both sides of an issue and not holding a grudge if I don’t agree or if there are different of opinions.”

What prompted her to run for office? “The code ordinance officer came to my home and told me I couldn’t park in my driveway- front of my garage as my drive-way was gravel at the time with weeds/grass growing and according to the ordinance that was considered my lawn. I asked who made up this stupid rule and was told the planning commission and then City Council made the final ruling and I stated that I needed to run for city council then.”

What does she believe is the most important issue facing the community? “A lot of our residents are still trying to recover from the recession and meeting basic needs.  I believe that we as a community can come together and help each other where we can and not just me it’s an US. There are resources that residents may not know about and we as leaders can assist in getting them.” She is working with The City of Cedar Springs Area Chamber and North Kent Community Services with their Seats and Feet’s Campaign (and personal items). They are collecting underwear, pajamas, socks and items you cannot get with a food stamps card with drop offs of donated items at various businesses. “The Chamber and business owners care about Cedar Springs and are here 365 days a year and I think it is great how they have agreed wholeheartedly to help me promote this campaign, as well as with North Kent Community Services…they are a great resource.”

Troost said she is most proud of when a young Eagle Scout came to City Council with a plan and idea for a new pavilion at Morley Park and asked if the City would partner with him. “It was amazing to see this young man wanting to give back to his community at such a young age and I believe that my fellow council members and I encouraged young Kevin to look outwards at others and see a need and that if we all work together we can make a difference and that he carries that with him as he grows up and continues it as well and passes it on.”

Rose Powell

Rose Powell

Rose Powell is running against Patricia Troost. Powell has lived in the City of Cedar Springs since November 1970, and has been a registered voter since 1971. She is recently retired. She graduated from Cedar Springs High School, as did her husband Chris, and their children, Gina, Brynadette, and Christopher. Powell said that previous experience includes serving on the Cedar Springs board of elections, DDA, planning commission, Chamber of commerce, and being a Rotarian. She was also a downtown business owner, and also employed as an office manager/sales person for 2 other Cedar Springs businesses.

Powell is running for council because: “I decided to get involved again, when I realized our City council voted to take down our Cedar Springs City flag and destroy it. I trusted our councilors to do what was right for the citizens, tax payers, and voters of Cedar Springs and surrounding community. The destruction of $4000.00+ of our people’s property, paying a law firm $11,000 to defend those actions, while telling us it was for the good of our city was appalling. After spending many…many hours studying CS. city Budget, I came to one conclusion. There’s something rotten in Red Flannel Town.”

Powell says her goal is, with the help of fellow citizens, to “guide our CS City policies, finances, and reputation in a positive direction. There will always be problems to solve. Together our community can do it, and do it well.”

 

 

 

 

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Look for what’s right


Dear Editor:

 

It’s a simple fact: You find what you’re looking for. If you are looking for bad news, you will find something to criticize; if you are looking for good news, you will find something to compliment.

In this election cycle, I hear and read far too many candidates that are looking for the things that are wrong. Electing those candidates perpetuates bad news. Is everything perfect in Cedar Springs? In Michigan? In the United States? Of course not. But there is a lot that is right. I’m much more interested in focusing on those things.

The way to move our city, our state, and our country forward is to support those candidates that are focused on our strengths—on what’s right in our communities—and electing them into positions where they can help our strengths overcome our weaknesses.

Send a message this election cycle: Vote for the candidates that are looking for what’s good and right and strong.

 

Sincerely,

Craig T. Owens, City of Cedar Springs

 

 

Post Scripts Notice: The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. No letters against a candidate will be published the week before an election. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to PostScripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

 

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Five chosen to vie for Superintendent spot


The Cedar Springs Public Schools Board will interview five candidates next week—including current Assistant Superintendent David Cairy—as potential replacements for retiring Superintendent Ron McDermed.

The candidates are Assistant Superintendent David Cairy; Gibraltar/Shumate Middle School Principal Brad Coon; Boyne Falls Public Schools Superintendent Karen Sherwood; Hudsonville Human Resources and Assessment Director Scott Smith; and Laura Van Duyne, the executive director of a special education consortium in Concord, California.

The candidates were selected from a pool of 15 applicants.  First round interviews for Coon and Smith will be held at 6:00 and 7:30 p.m. on March 17; Sherwood and VanDuyne at 6:00 and 7:30 p.m. on March 19; and Cairy at 6 p.m. on March 21. Second round interviews are scheduled for March 26.  The public is invited to attend the interviews, which will take place in the Hilltop board room.

Following are short bios for each candidate:

David Cairy

David Cairy

David Cairy was named Cedar Springs’ assistant superintendent in 2007 and has led a variety of educational initiatives as well as serving as the district’s chief financial officer. Before joining the central office administrative team, Cairy was principal at Cedar Trails Elementary and a teacher at the Jefferson Elementary School in South Redford. He holds a Masters in K-12 administration from Michigan State University and a Bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Grand Valley State University.

Brad Coon

Brad Coon

Brad Coon has been a principal in the Gibraltar district since 2004 and was an assistant principal at Algonac High School from 2002-04. He has also served as an alternative education consultant at Oakland Schools and a teacher in the Orchard View and Fruitport districts.  He holds an education specialist degree from Oakland University, a master’s in education from Grand Valley State University, and a bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University.

Karen Sherwood

Karen Sherwood

Karen Sherwood was named principal of the Boyne City Middle School after serving as a teacher in the building for 14 years prior to her 2010 appointment as the superintendent in Boyne Falls.  She holds a master’s in education leadership from Grand Valley State University, a master’s in early childhood development from Central Michigan University and a bachelor’s from the University of Michigan at Dearborn.

Scott Smith

Scott Smith

Scott Smith was a middle school principal and assistant principal in the Hamilton district from 1995-2011 before joining the Hudsonville district in his present position.  He holds an education specialist degree from Grand Valley State University, a master’s in educational leadership and a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Western Michigan University.

Laura Van Duyne has served as executive director of the State SELPA, Contra Costa Special Education Joint Powers Authority since 2010 and held a variety of administrative and leadership positions in the Antioch, CA, system from 2003-2010.  She holds a doctorate in education from the University of San Francisco, a master’s in education administration from Minnesota State University and a bachelor’s in education from the University of Nevada.

 

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