Bath Charter Township
Honors College graduate in political science, Michigan State University; Masters in public administration, Western Michigan University
Married, three children
I've served in various roles in the Michigan House and Senate for the past 18 years.
Clinton County Commissioner, 2009-present; Bath Township Trustee 2004-08
I will continue to fight for lower property taxes and government reforms. I have a strong history of reducing bureaucracy at the county, paying down all our building debt, bringing our legacy costs under control and putting Clinton County on firm financial footing. My experience working in the state legislature gives me perspective on how proposed state laws can impact local governments.
It's not a more or less question. Rather it should be framed as do residents have access to sufficient park land (whether its county, city or township owned) to sustain property values, encourage new families to move to our communities and entice new residential construction to ensure our local schools remain well-funded and competitive. We have to assess our current inventory of park land and ensure it is adequately serving where our population is located today and where it will grow in the future. The vitality of a local school is the best indicator of the financial health and future of any community.
I don't think anyone in Michigan thinks the quality of our roads is acceptable. However, the freeze and thaw cycle experienced here in our peninsula creates challenges other states don't face. The state passed a new road funding plan that begins to take effect on January 1. Based on the price of a barrel of oil, which is an integral part of the cost of asphalt resurfacing, we will see just how far these new revenues can go to patching and repairing our county's road infrastructure. The county road commission has a very difficult job ahead to allocate scarce resources in the face of public perception that the road issue has been fixed.
I am opposed to new property taxes to pay for road improvements. We need to fund and maintain our transportation system on a statewide basis. Asking local residents to pay more in property taxes for county roads would be simply shifting the burden away from state fuel taxes and onto the backs of property owners.
County government occupies an intermediate position that the average citizen rarely interacts with. As such, there is no reason for us to expand. The purpose of federalism is to perform different functions at different levels. There is no reason for the county to duplicate services offered at the state or local level and vice versa. That only leads to waste, inefficiency and the 18 trillion dollar national debt.
Michigan Townships Association did a study a few years ago that claimed that it would be more costly for counties to assume the functions of township government. I tend to agree with them. I've seen the yeoman's work that elected officials do in our small, rural townships. They are the best value for your hard earned tax dollar. More often than not you get nearly full-time elected officials working for a part-time (or less) salary.
Many of Clinton County's functions are done on a regional basis. I have no problem with regionalization, as long as the fiscal conservative values of Clinton County are not violated. Too often, Clinton County is lumped in with Lansing and Ingham County in the delivery of services, two entities that, more often than not, have different objectives for the role of government. Clinton County has no building debt and solid control over its legacy costs. Lansing, East Lansing and Ingham County are collectively nearly a billion in the red - yet they continue to push for a more expanded role of government in our daily lives. This is a source of daily frustration in my role as an elected official.
One of the most important issues facing us is how to advocate Clinton County's no debt, low tax, personal freedom philosophy for the advancement of the Lansing region. The unfunded pension and retiree health care liabilities of Lansing, East Lansing and Ingham County are the greatest threat to regional prosperity. Continuing our efforts to become more efficient and effective with every tax dollar spent in light of declining revenues from state government.
It's not whether its appropriate or not for county government to assume a larger role - it will have to since the county is under a state mandate to provide many vital services to residents whether or not the state contributes their fair share to their provision.
Public safety. There is no basis for government if it isn't to secure the life, liberty and property of its citizens.
Clinton County doesn't provide a lot of non-essential services. Even those few non-core services, such as GIS mapping, we cost-share with other local governments. A major waste of resources is the proposed Bus Rapid Transit service. This will create dedicated bus lanes along the Michigan Avenue corridor from the state capitol all the way to the Meridian Mall at an enormous expense just to save a few minutes on the current CATA bus line that travels that route. However, my vote in opposition was overwhelmed by the pro-mass transit voices from Lansing, East Lansing and Ingham County that serve on the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission. Decide for yourself at cata-brt.org.