By Judy Reed
Sand Lake voters head to the polls Tuesday to choose their next village president for the next two years. They will also vote several trustee positions, but none of them are contested.
There are four trustee positions open, and only three people running. Incumbents Dave Tibbe and Roger Towsley are running to retain their position on the board, Duncan Rogers is a write-in for Dave Dewey’s position (Dewey is not running again), and no one has filed for the partial term previously filled by Tonia Parkhurst.
Kirk Thielke is running for his third two-year term as president of the village of Sand Lake. The former business owner said he looks at running again as a continuation of the civic service he’s done in Sand Lake for the last 25 years. During that time he has served on both the fire and police department, coached, served on the Sand Lake Chamber of Commerce and more. “I’ve been the same guy all the way through. I’ve been consistent, with the same tenacity and integrity I’ve always had. That’s what people are going to get. I enjoy it. It’s a challenge. Sometimes we have to make hard decisions that aren’t always popular. But I’ll do what the village asks me to do,” said Thielke. “The village president position is a privilege. With it comes responsibility, not a personal agenda. I think I’ve proven that. If they like what they’ve seen, then vote for me.”
He said that while he’s been in office, they have had several opportunities to cut costs through pay adjustments and looked at ways to absorb increases, and updated policies and procedures. There are also some new people in charge of various departments. One of the big projects that will pay off in the future is a $2.1 million sewer project. They received a $1 million-plus grant to update and repair the sewer system, and a $1 million loan from the USDA to fund the rest. Thielke said that they previously weren’t charging enough to ensure they had money for repairs, and in order to borrow the money, they had to up the user fee from $42 to $69 per quarter to show they could pay back the loan. He said that while some people may not like the increase, without the grant and the loan, they would be paying $135 per quarter for the repairs.
Thielke urges voters to get out and vote and not be apathetic. “We usually have about 60 people vote. There are 500 people in Sand Lake, and about 300 voters,” he said.
Todd Finkel is a newcomer to politics and is running against Kirk Thielke for the Village President position. He is manager at Tire Wholesalers Plus in Rockford, and has been a resident of Sand Lake for three years. Finkel said he has no background in politics but was asked by several people to run. “I know how to run a business, and I can’t imagine it is too much more complicated to get into the political end of it,” he said. “I’ve been running businesses my whole life.”
Finkel said he is running with the intent to save the village money, such as by moving the village election from September to November. “It’s costly to the taxpayers to have this special election,” he said. He noted that in Sand Lake they pay taxes to both the village and Nelson Township and that there must be some way to reduce taxes.
Finkel admitted he was one of the people that signed the petition last year to dissolve the Village. The Post asked Finkel, if he was elected, and another petition came around, would he vote for it or support the village? “I believe you are supposed to work for the people, not against them,” said Finkel. “People want the village to remain. It was quite unanimous that people wanted to keep the special amenities of the village. So, if elected, I would not vote for it. I’m not ashamed I did it, though, because we need change.”
Finkel said he would have an open door policy, and that he would return calls.