Decision time now upon us
It’s decision time for candidates in Leelanau County, some of whom have been running for office for nearly a year. It was last August when Dell Moore filed papers, for the third time, to run for county Sheriff. Like many other candidates, he’s run a spirited campaign, one that shows a desire to serve far beyond the compensation offered for the post.
It’s also decision time for the Leelanau Enterprise. Following are our recommendations for voters, known widely as the “kiss of death” for candidates. We’ve talked with some candidates in depth, and know others only peripherally. Our general feeling, though, is that Leelanau County will be well served in the coming year. Of contested offices we endorse, the state House race offers the only Democratic decision. All other candidates are Republicans.
Once again, because of a conflict within our staff, we have not endorsed either candidate for county Proseuctor.
We thought heading into this campaign that former Grand Traverse Band chair Derek Bailey would gain our endorsement. He is well-spoken and caring. But financial responsibility and the ability to control and operate a campaign. We feel his actions over the past few months have not lived up to those standards. He first entered the Congressional race before filing for the state House seat in May. As such, he was required to return to private donors their portion of the $150,000 raised for the federal race. So far, he has not accomplished that among Democratic contributors we have spoken to in Leelanau County. His campaign also used the Leelanau Enterprise masthead without permission in a campaign piece mailed to county residents.
Mr. O’Shea, an Onekama resident, has run a spirited and honest campaign, and served competently as chair of the Manistee County Board of Commissioners. To Mr. O’Shea, we offer our endorsement. To Mr. Bailey, we will continue to look for the qualities we admired during his work with the GTB.
Mike Borkovich is a Conservation Officer extraordinaire. But can he lead the Sheriff’s office? Mark Walter is a former county commissioner who has spent his career with the state Department of Corrections. Could he unravel the inefficiencies built into the county jail operation? And Mr. Moore has been beyond reproach as Police Chief in the Village of Suttons Bay. Will his concept of community policing help unify the county Sheriff’s Department?
To us, the decision comes down to Mr. Borkovich, once named a national law enforcement officer of the year, and Mr. Moore, who has done his homework in suggesting changes to how the Sheriff’s office runs. We give a slight edge to Mr. Borkovich, noting that his choice for undersheriff in City of Traverse City police captain Steve Morgan will provide administrative and budgetary insight for the department. We won’t be disappointed with either choice.
Chelly Roush is a trustworthy public servant who, we feel, has been overwhelmed at times during her first term as Treasurer. Certainly she has gotten better at her job, as the latest county audit indicated. However, she has difficulty, perhaps due to her meek demeanor, in explaining her department’s priorities and policies to commissioners and the general public.
Challenger John Gallagher III would bring a more confident air to the Treasurer’s post, and new ideas for county investment. Both candidates have been campaigning hard. Our support goes to Mr. Gallagher.
District One - Eight-term commissioner Jean Watkoski is being challenged by Stanley Kouchnerkavich, the former Elmwood Township supervisor. Ms. Watkoski has served the county aptly through the years, although we have disagreed with some of her votes and would encourage her to be more vocal in others. Mr. Kouchnerkavich has been active and served his community in many ways, for which we are grateful, but we feel constituents would be better represented by Ms. Watkoski.
District Two - Commissioner James Schaub has often offered a voice of reason in County Board discussions, taking a softer approach to matters. We have appreciated his oversight to budgeting, and his concern over long-term pension debt. But he is also closely related to several county employees, which takes away from many of his points. We have been impressed with stances taken by a relative newcomer to local politics, Debra L. Rushton, to whom we offer our endorsement.
District Six - Who isn’t running for office here? The field of six candidates includes five Republicans, with former county chair Robert Hawley perhaps the best known in the field. Also running as Republicans are Bill Irwin, a retired Verizon data executive; Karen Paulus, who has been very involved with the GOP; and Clayton Ball, who in retirement has been involved in a number of community activities and has taken an active role in the renovation of SugarLoaf Resort. We suggest Mr. Ball as the Republican nominee.
County Road Commission
It’s difficult not to support Glen Noonan, truly an icon of Leelanau County farming and public service, as he seeks to continue to be the longest-serving road commissioner in the state. But he’s running for a six-year seat, and we question whether he can finish serving out another term. Also running is Bill Calhoun, the former fire chief for the Suttons Bay- Bingham Fire Department, who would offer a good dose of common sense to the job. Our support, however, goes to Bob Joyce, head of the Suttons Bay Village public works department and the only candidate to attend last week’s forum sponsored by the Leelanau Unit of the League of Women Voters.
County Drain Commissioner
Steven Christensen of Suttons Bay Township deserves to continue in this position, which for some reason long forgotten is elected. He’s challenged by John Joseph Richards of Elmwood Township.
Of course, the main thing is to vote, either for our endorsements or not. We’re accustomed to an assortment of differing views; in fact, we’d be disappointed without them. We’re bothered, however, by low voting turnout. Cast a ballot on Tuesday.