Focus on Charlevoix County Commssion Incumbents

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Megan Wilson

Contributing Writer

One of many contested races you will decide on the Tuesday Aug. 5 primary election is that of Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners. Following is a look at the incumbent commissioners who hope to retain their respective seats. • District 5 Republican incumbent Rich Gillespie is an eight-year veteran of the Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners, and said he is noted for his attention to details and running the government smoothly. “I try to conduct the public’s sessions as efficiently as possible,” said Gillespie. “I am part of the Sheriff’s Office Public Safety Committee, I was also part of helping to foster a better and more cost-effective health insurance.” Gillespie also was a part of the restoration of the Ironton Ferry, and helped to change the way it can load ambulances. “Rebuilding the Ironton Ferry was a huge accomplishment. It takes a lot of caring and understanding to accomplish that project,” said Gillespie. “An ambulance can now be put on the ferry more quickly and safely, loading and unloading of vehicles now goes much faster.” Another accomplishment Gillespie noted are the changes to the county’s recycling program, which now uses fewer bins. “We’ve gone from multiple bins to single-bin recycling,” said Gillespie. “We’ve saved at least $100,000 per year.” The next term Gillespie said he wants to focus on prosperity and making sure that issues are taken care of promptly and efficiently. “My focus is to make sure that things do not get lost in a bureaucratic shuffle,” he said. “I know in my heart that I’m the best choice for the job and I would like to continue good stewardship for the employees and shareholders of the county.” Gillespie is being challenged by Nancy Ferguson. • District One Republican George T. Lasater is a first-term incumbent Charlevoix County Commissioner, with a proven record as Charlevoix County Sheriff for 32 years. “I’m proud of my work on the parks committee. The parks committee was able to recognize and honor two service members with plaques that had been killed in action during the Vietnam conflict,” said Lasater. “I’m also currently working on taking back Charlevoix County public access lake sites that have become overgrown.” Lasater is involved with several committees at this time, including the Veterans Affairs Committee, the Substance Abuse and Corrections Committee, and the Senior Citizens Committee. “I’m also part of the Actions with Community Project,” said Lasater. “I’d like to continue the projects that I’m currently working on.” He added, “If people think that I have been a good representative for my 34 years of public service, my record should speak for itself. If they think that I have done a good job then I would appreciate them giving me another two years.” Lasater emphasized that he wanted to see his programs finished before he left office. “I enjoy being responsive to the needs of the people, and I can fulfill that by being in office,” said Lasater. “I enjoy dealing with crises, and with problems when they arise.” Lasater is being challenged by former Charlevoix County Commissioner Shirlene Tripp, whom the voters ousted two years ago. • District Three Republican incumbent Ron Reinhardt will be serving 12 years on the Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners as of this January, and he said his most noted accomplishments include road improvements and staunch support for agriculture. “I’m the only commissioner within the agricultural area. I support the farming areas and I’m proud to serve the county; I’m also on the transit board,” said Reinhardt. “I believe in getting the job done and getting the roads done are the biggest thing for me. I was instrumental in getting the Boyne Falls Substation done.” Reinhardt said he helped improve the roads in Charlevoix County with his support of the county road millage. “Currently I’m pushing for a road garage on Beaver Island that is sorely needed,” said Reinhardt. “The garage will house transit and sheriff’s (office) personnel on Beaver Island—we’re in the process of getting … grants now.” He added, “I’m proud to serve the rural part of the county. I represent my district well, and the entire county.” Reinhardt explained his desire for a next term as wanting to finish what he started. “One of the things is that the garage on Beaver Island is not built yet,” said Reinhardt. “East Deer Lake is pretty bad now, too.” He added, “I’m still feeling good so I want to give it another term.” Reinhardt has no Aug. 5 primary challengers but will face Democratic challenger Tim LaCroix in November. • Larry Sullivan (R-District 6) is a first-term incumbent candidate for the Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners race using his prior experience as Charlevoix County Planning Director as a building block for his current endeavors. “Prior to commissioner I worked as county planning director for 31 years,” said Sullivan. “I have an excellent knowledge of the inner workings of the county, and the opportunities for improvement.” Sullivan said he is noted for promoting a smoother governmental process, and has dedicated himself to a more forthcoming government for the citizenry. “I pushed for a more open government, fiscal transparency, and improving relationships between government agencies,” said Sullivan. “It is my goal to see every check the county writes posted on the county’s web page, which is www.charlevoixcounty.org.” Sullivan has been heavily involved in the planning for the Boyne City to US-31 non-motorized trail, and is also involved in the county’s recycling program. “The Charlevoix trail is a five-phase project, and I would like to see at least four phases completed in the next two years—construction is slated to begin in 2015,” said Sullivan. “I would like to see the recycling program expanded, and the recycling committee brought back.” Sullivan is a strong believer in citizens setting forth the goals of the county and laying the foundations out for planning. “Citizens are an excellent source of knowledge and information to help increase opportunities,” said Sullivan. “I would like to see more citizen involvement in the goal planning stages, and the setting up for the future of the county.” He added, “I believe in making the world a better place, and I hope that the achievements I am working on helps to do so.” Sullivan is being challenged by former long-time county commissioner Shirley Roloff.