By: Benjamin J. Gohs, News Editor
Charlevoix County Commissioner Shirlene Tripp, Republican, is now in her sixth year as a commissioner and has worked with local townships for nearly 30 years.
Tripp said she believes she has done a good job for the citizens and will continue to do so if elected.
“I’ve had a lot of interest from people who said they support me and they think I can still do a good job,” Tripp said. “I am fair and do the best I can and I think my integrity and my background can anyone’s – I feel good about myself and the decisions I make.”
Tripp said one of her major goals, should she be re-elected, is to decrease the amount of apparent turmoil among some county officials.
“This sort of stuff makes people sour on politics but I think we could all do our job and have some fun with it if we would just work together,” she said.
Running against Tripp is long-time Charlevoix County Sheriff George Thomas Lasater who retired nearly four years ago. Also a Republican, Lasater worked as sheriff for 32 years and is currently chairman of the Boyne Area Free Clinic Board and serves on the Boyne City War Memorial Committee.
“I am seeking office because I want to serve the citizens of my area of residence,” he said. “I know what is needed to work as a team, and now that I am a private citizen, I have found myself listening to candid conversations and concerns about the future of Charlevoix County, our home, as I never heard them explained to me as a public official.”
Chris Christensen, Republican, is running unopposed.
Republican Ronald Reinhardt has been a Charlevoix County Commissioner for nearly 10 years. Prior to that, Reinhardt served nearly 30 years on the county’s soil board of which he is still a member. He has also served as interim supervisor of Wilson Township. Reinhardt is a lifelong farmer.
“I represent agriculture,” he said. “In fact, I am the only commissioner who comes from ag(riculture).”
Reinhardt said he is running again because he feels the county has unfinished business including the proposed Boyne Falls Substation and roadwork throughout the county.
“I have experience and I think I represent my district well,” he said. “I try to look out for the whole county but I am elected to represent the people from my district.”
Rick Matelski, a Republican, has no prior political experience.
“I want to make a change to try to see what’s going on in our community and fight for some of the things on the agenda like the roads,” he said. “I’m looking to make things better on this side of the county.”
He added, “I just want to do something different.”
Charlevoix County Commissioner and Chairman of the Board Joel Evans is a Republican who said it has been an honor to serve the taxpayers for the last six years.
“I was born and raised here in Charlevoix County and I really enjoy the work and the people,” he said.
Evans said he is excited to see so many people running for office and he hopes to see even more citizen participation in future board meetings.
When asked why people should vote for him, Evans said, “That’s a question you’ll have to ask the voters. If they feel I have served them well enough to vote me in for another term then I will be honored to serve again.”
Evans has prior experience as the South Arm Township Supervisor for at least six years and he also served as an East Jordan Public Schools Board of Education Member.
Republican Dave Hague of East Jordan is a former Charlevoix County Sheriff Deputy with over 26 years of experience. He also served in the U.S. Navy for just over four years.
Hague said he feels the current board hasn’t always made decisions in the best interests of the citizens and he would like a shot at making a difference.
“I think there are a lot of people disappointed in this board,” Hague said. “I’m thinking the job could be done better.”
Hague said his decades of contact with various county departments makes him familiar with the county’s inner workings.
“For over 26 years I’ve seen how the county board works in relation to the sheriff’s office and I had contact with other county employees and county offices and I have seen the different aspects of their operations,” Hague said.
Nancy Ferguson, the only Democrat in the commissioner race, taught school for 25 years and has been with Charlevoix State Bank as a part-time teller for 14 years.
Ferguson is also a veteran of the Charlevoix County Planning Commission and serves on the county’s recycling committee.
“Sometimes you have to just decide to try doing something or quit complaining about the way it’s done, so I though I would give it a try,” she said.
Ferguson said she has not been too pleased with the progress of the county board and feels she could do a good job as a commissioner.
Ferguson said she supports openness in governance, recycling and improving recreation offerings in the county in order to increase tourism.
“I’m honest, pretty plain spoken and I listen to people who want to talk to me,” she said. “I also think we need to restore civility at meetings.”
Ferguson also said she believes commissioners should not receive health insurance.
Charlevoix County Commissioner Richard Gillespie, a Republican and the only candidate from Beaver Island, served as a commissioner back in the 1990s and also served as chairman of the Beaver Island Transportation Authority.
“I do feel well qualified for this position,” Gillespie said. “I have many life experiences as a self-employed business person. I am a licensed real estate broker, pilot, builder and excavating
He added, “I feel I am the best candidate because I do not have a personal agenda. My agenda is the best and most fiscal representation of the public tax dollar.”
Gillespie said there are many things that need improvement and correction.
“I am constantly saying that we need to get our house in order,” he said. “I am not there to make friends. I am there to make policy that is effective both in play and in cost.”
Gillespie cited accomplishments including establishing recycling committee bylaws, imposing more stringent oversight practices on the county’s finances and working to get the proposed Boyne Falls Substation built.
Republican Dennis Jason is a former Charlevoix County Commissioner who served for four years nearly six years ago. He also served on the East Jordan Planning Commission.
A veteran of the Charlevoix County Planning Commission, Jason said in retirement he now has the time to work for the county.
“I think, because of redistricting, the population center is Eveline and Marion townships and I feel I’d be a lot more accessible to our constituents because Beaver Island is long way away from where people can get a hold of their representative if they need to talk or meet with him,” Jason said.
Jason said another reason he is running is to affect the overall tone of the commission.
“I guess I just didn’t like the way some of the meetings were going,” he said. “I thought a lot of the confrontation has made the county not look as good as we could.”
He added, “Hopefully my experience in being able to bring people together would help with that situation.”
Jason said he will look at all sides of issues before making any decisions.
John Haggard, a Republican who owns his own plumbing and heating businesses, has been active in politics since he campaigned for Barry Goldwater. He served as a Charlevoix County Commissioner from 1976 to 1982 and was the Chairman of the Charlevoix County Republican Party for 20 years beginning in 1990.
“Being in business and watching what is happening at the county level, I felt it was time to step back in to be a vocal voice and help modify what is happening with the county,” Haggard said. “I’m hoping when I am elected that we can work with all of the other commissioners to get Charlevoix County progressing and moving forward, and look at the day to day operations.”
He added, “I feel I have time and the ability to work diligently for the rest of the county.”
Haggard was born and raised in Charlevoix.
Republican Dennis Halverson served as Charlevoix City Police Chief from 1987 to 2006 in addition to serving on the Charlevoix Public Schools Board of Education.
He currently works for the Charlevoix-Emmet Intermediate School District.
His work includes assisting area school districts with emergency planning and training, threat assessments and homeland security issues which would be associated with the public school environment; managing the transportation department; overseeing the buildings and grounds for the ISD’s facilities and he is the program Director for the AmeriCorps grant. Halverson’s responsibility includes managing a staff of approximately 50 employees.
Halverson is a past President of the Charlevoix Board of Education, a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, a member of the Rotary Club of Charlevoix, one of the charter members of the Community Thanksgiving Dinner team and a campaign coordinator for the Char-Em United Way. He also works as a radio broadcaster for WMKT, doing Charlevoix Rayder football and basketball.
Republican Shirley Roloff has 12 years of experience with Charlevoix City government and 14 years as a county commissioner.
“I just felt I contributed a lot to the county,” she said. “I enjoy the work and there is a lot that needs to be done.”
Roloff said she is honest, dependable, a hard worker and, “probably more common sense than most people.”
Charlevoix County Planner Larry Sullivan has worked for the county since 1981.
The Republican said he has some concerns with the direction the county is moving.
“I think there are some things we can do to help stimulate the economy,” Sullivan said. “I don’t see the county solving the economic problems of the world, but I see things that could be done to enhance the quality of life for residence of the area while bringing in tourism on the shoulder seasons.”
He added, “There are a lot of possibilities to encourage development and nurture it into the future.”
In the race for Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney, there are two candidates.
Elected Charlevoix County Prosecutor in 2004, Jarema has also served on the State Bar of Michigan Representative Assembly for eight years. This is the final policy making body of the State Bar of Michigan.
“I have a passion for seeking justice, to help victims and to making our communities safer for all of our families,” he said. “As a husband and father, it is difficult to express the depth of my emotion when I am able to tell a young victim of a sexual assault that justice has been done because of their strength in telling the truth.”
he added, “Professionally, I enjoy the challenge of a difficult case. I believe that a prosecutor is on the moral side of the justice system and I want to continue to make our community safer by ensuring those that break the law face justice.”
Jarema said his accomplishments include: a county-wide drug team in conjunction with the sheriff’s office; Establishing the Sobriety Court in 90th District Court which focuses on rehabilitation; conducted school programs for teachers and parents regarding drug usage and school programs for students regarding “good touching and bad touching; personally tried more than 110 cases ranging from homicide to embezzlement to sexual assaults and have a 73 percent conviction rate.
“I have the experience to handle the most difficult cases, and in the case of young victims, the compassion and sensitivity that makes me the clear choice to continue to serve as Charlevoix County prosecutor,” Jarema said. “When I took office in January 2005, a drug overdose death was presented my first week in office. Through my experience as chief assistant prosecutor, I knew how to conduct the investigation, draft search warrants and prepare the case for trial.”
He added, “The importance of this office demands experience. This position is too important for on-the-job training.”
Allen Telgenhof’s prior political experience includes serving on the Charlevoix Public Schools Board of Education for eight years, six of them as president, Charlevoix Schools Foundation, City of Charlevoix Planning Commission and the Charlevoix School District Planning Commission.
“I’m just concerned, as a lot of people are in the county, that things not being handled how they should be handled, or done in a way that puts the county in a good light – instead it shows Charlevoix County in a bad light, and that’s not what’s best for the county and its residents,” Telgenhof said. “Things are being done based on personal feelings and actions.”
Telgenhof said he has always had an interest in being a prosecutor, “Back to when I was in law school. I’ve always practiced criminal law as part of my practice.”
Telgenhof said running for the office has always been a consideration.
“The opportunity was right at this point in time,” he said. “It was the right time and I was encouraged by a lot of people, so I decided to give it a shot.”
Running unopposed for various offices are the following:
Charlevoix County Sheriff – William Donald Schneider, Republican
Charlevoix County Clerk – Cheryl Potter Browe, Republican
Charlevoix County Register of Deeds – Charlene Novotny will not be running for another term. Instead, Register of Deeds employee Virginia M. Marme is running for the office.
Marme, a Republican, has been a delegate for the Republican party and co-chair of the Republican party.
“I’m fair and honest and I believe in serving the taxpayers and helping them in any way possible,” she said.
Drain Commissioner Marc Seelye, Republican
County Surveryor Lawrence R. Feindt, Republican
Treasurer Marilyn Cousineau, Republican, has served as Charlevoix County Treasurer since 2004. She has 22 years of experience in banking and has worked for the public sector for nearly 40 years.
She was the clerk for the Village of Boyne Falls for 16 years.