2018-08-02 / Views

Primary endorsements and thoughts

Election season is already upon Leelanau County, and with its arrival we offer our thoughts on issues that will be before voters Tuesday in the Primary Election.

PROPERTY TAX INCREASES

Senior Services

Yes, we do support the higher property tax sought by the county Senior Services Department. Most of the department’s offerings are now means tested, so the increased revenue will be directed toward the people who need it the most.

But we do have reservations about the general trend toward specialized millages for popular services. While guaranteeing revenue for the high-profile workings of local government, the “extra millages” also serve to avoid necessary budgetary discussions about priorities that might lead to spending reductions in less-needed — and less popular — categories.

And raising property tax rates has a negative affect on a primary goal of senior services, which is to keep older residents independent and living in their own homes. Who owns most of the owner-occupied homes in Leelanau? Senior citizens, who will also be paying more taxes.

Fire Millages

Solon and Centerville townships are seeking more funding to pay for beefed up services. These are no-brainer requests. We know a faction exists in both townships that has lagged in support for the re-organization of Cedar Area Fire and Rescue. And our hats go off to those volunteers who kept old fire trucks running and hammered nails to erect the Cedar Fire Hall.

But times have changed. Residents who call for medical help expect well-trained crews to arrive with modern equipment. They’ll need to pay more for the upgrades, and have been willing to do so.

Road Commission

This biannual request usually passes easily, and we expect that to happen again. Visitors remark about the county’s wellmaintained road system and residents appreciate the frequency of snow plowing. Please vote Yes.

CANDIDATE ENDORSEMENTS

District Court

Frankly, when we were assembling candidate responses, we were disappointed in our selection of questions. We should have asked each to describe the type of courtroom manner they would bring to the bench. While that opportunity is gone; we’ll remember the question leading up to the General Election the Leelanau County Probate judge will also be selected. The Hon. Larry Nelson is retiring.

As far as choosing a two-candidate field for District Court for the General Election, we offer a pair of endorsements. Our support goes to Grand Traverse County prosecutor

Bob Cooney, who has in general stayed above the fray in a field fraught with conflicts. And we support Paul Jarboe, who has also worked as a prosecutor and who pledges to ensure that District judges schedule more court cases in Leelanau County.

Road Commission

Our endorsements in the Republican field for Road Commission are based mostly on how candidates handled questions we presented to them as we have had limited interaction with a couple of them.

The Road Commission is expanding from three to five members, per the direction of the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners.

Whether an expanded body will be worth its cost will depend largely on who fills those two new seats. Geography won’t help, as neither a present road commissioner nor any of the candidates reside in the southwest part of the county.

We wish candidates’ homes were spread over a wider area. But that’s not their fault.

Greg Mikowski, a Republican, is the lone candidate for a four-year term and is running unopposed.

Four GOP candidates are seeking to advance to the General Election, where they will face Democrat Garthe Greenan of Solon Township for two seats on the commission.

Our Primary Election GOP endorsements go to present road commissioner Jim Calhoun, whose return would help ensure stability on the commission, and former Road Commission crew worker Mike Zeits. We appreciate Mr. Zeits’ blue-collar approach to road issues.

State House

It’s a bit of a surprise that four candidates are seeking to fill an open seat in this race, as present State Representative Curt VanderWall was expected to seek re-election. Instead, he’s running for an open seat in the state Senate.

On the Democratic slate are Kathy Wiejaczka of Empire and Ed Hoogterp of Beulah. A retired nurse, Ms. Wiejaczka has been involved in local government while Mr. Hoogterp is a former newspaper editor and present drain commissioner for Benzie County.

The pair represent a solid slate for Democrats. Our endorsement goes to Ms. Wiejaczka, who has run an active and thoughtful campaign.

We have no endorsement for a Republican candidate. We’ve seen little of Jack O’Malley, a former radio celebrity, or of Carolyn Cater of Ludington, a self-described sea-farer, at county events or at local government meetings. They need to make an impact in Leelanau if Republicans hope to retain this seat, which was won in 2008 by Democrat Dan Scripps of Northport. We did prefer Mr. O’Malleys’ written responses to questions posed to both candidates. But we needed more interest in the county to extend an endorsement.

State Senate

The Republican-leaning 35th District has an impressive field of candidates on the GOP slate, including three who have served or are currently serving in the State House. Mr. VanderWall, Ray Franz and Bruce Rendon are all qualified as lawmakers. Our support goes to Mr. VanderWall of Ludington, whose friendly campaign style and follow-through on issues may send him to the upper chamber.

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