Eaton County Commissioner District 3

Eaton County Commissioner District 3, vote for 1

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    Terrance Augustine

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    Jon Shiflett

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Biographical Information

What makes you more qualified than other candidates for this office?

Should the county spend more on parks? Yes or no, please explain.

Is the quality of county roads acceptable? Yes or no, please explain.

Do you support raising taxes as a way to pay for road improvements? Yes or no, please explain.

Are you comfortable with the structure and scope of county government? Yes or no, please explain.

To promote efficiency and lower costs should the role of county government expand and the role of city and township government shrink? Yes or no, please explain.

Related to government structure, what would you change?

What are the three most important issues facing the county and how would you address them?

As property tax revenue and state aid decline, is it appropriate for the county to assume a larger role in providing services to county residents? Yes or no, please explain.

What county services do you consider most vital?

What county services are least vital and can be trimmed to lower expenses?

Are you current in all tax, alimony and child support obligations? Yes or no. If no, please explain.

Hometown Grand Ledge
Education BS Business Administration Make Superior State University
Family I am married to my wife of eight years Beth and have three children; Alexander, Monroe and Truman
Professional Experience 14 years working in Community Banks and own Bakery with my wife Beth
Political Experience Two-Term Eaton County Commissioner serving on the Ways & Means (Budget Committee) and Public Works/Planning Committees. Served on Bi-Partisan Road Subcommittee
My combination of public and private financial experience makes me the most qualified candidate to serve as the representative of the third district in Grand Ledge on the County Board. I have now served for four years as a leading member of the county's important Ways and Means Committee, which is responsible for setting the county's budget year after year. I also have 14 years of private sector financial experience in the community banking industry and as a small business owner with my wife. I am also deeply involved in the Grand Ledge Community as a member of the Downtown Development Authority and Grand Ledge Rotary Club and serve as the president of the Grand Ledge Farmers Market.
I would love for the county to be able to spend more on parks, however due to the current budget constraints it is unlikely to come from larger general fund budget appropriations. I would like to see the county move as much towards a self-sustaining model for our parks as possible, which would help ensure the sustainability of our beautiful park system. Along with all but one of my colleagues I supported the acquisition of the Crandell Lake Park to not only add another amazing gem to our current portfolio of parks, but also in hopes of utilizing it as a potential source of additional revenue in the future that can help fund all of the parks in the county including those in Grand Ledge.
The quality of our roads are certainly not acceptable yet, however we have begun to improve our county road system since the passage of the local road millage two years ago. There have already been many roads within our district in Grand Ledge that have benefited from the local road millage. Along with two republican commissioners I served on the county's Road Subcommittee that helped to develop the current local road millage plan. While the local road millage will go a long way over the next ten years to improving the overall quality of our local roads, there are still many county roads that rely on state funding, which remains insufficient to address the needs of the county system.
I do not support any additional tax increases locally to pay for additional road improvements. As I've already explained I was a member of the bi-partisan road committee that developed the current local road millage in an attempt to stop the disintegration of our roads. Although I still do not believe a local property tax is the best way to fix our crumbling roads it was the only revenue option the county had to help fund the repair of our local streets. This local street millage also ensures that every dollar paid by Grand Ledge City taxpayers remains in the city to fix our local streets. As discussed this has already helped fund many local road repairs here in Grand Ledge.
Overall, I am comfortable with the structure and scope of the county government. As with any organization there are things we do well and things we don't do so well at, however as your commissioner I continue to work with elected officials from all parties, staff members, as well as City leaders to find more efficient and effective ways for our county government to work in conjunction with our City government. I do think it would be beneficial to those in the county if the board had more oversight authority over all of the elected offices within the county, however they are separate constitutional offices which limit the ability of the county board to have any direct oversight authority.
I support efficient consolidations within governments and their agencies when it makes sense. However, I am also a big believer in local control of our governing bodies and think there are many things that require local control that cannot be consolidated. Throughout my time as the district's commissioner I have worked with both city and county officials to identify and develop areas of efficiency through consolidation as well as contractual agreements. I believe one of my key roles as the county commissioner is to work with elected officials at both levels to ensure the residents of the City of Grand Ledge are receiving the highest level of service at the lowest cost possible.
As discussed earlier I believe our county government structure works for the most part. There are always things that can be improved upon. I think it is important that we utilize technology to give the best possible services to all of our residents no matter where they live in the county. I believe it is important for government to think outside of the box to find more efficient and effective ways to provide integral services to our residents. I also think having a more open government only encourages interaction and ultimately better responsiveness by the government to the needs of its residents.
As always, the county's budget is the most important issue facing the board of commissioners every year. That's why its important to elect a commissioner who has both the private and public sector experience to properly maintain the finances of the county. Another important issue the county always faces is its level of service it provides to residents. We should continuously be looking for ways to utilize technology and improve the way we provide services to our residents in this ever-changing world. The other important issue facing our county is the relationship it has with its citizens. We must make sure our county government is open and promotes good communication with all residents.
In some instances it may be appropriate for the county to assume a larger role. This question goes back to the discussion of providing efficient services to the residents without sacrificing local control. As discussed previously it is important to continue to look for better ways to provide the services our residents need regardless of who provides the service. In some cases it will be more cost effective for the county to provide a service and in others it will make more sense for the city or township to be the provider of those services. It's not about who provides the services to our residents, but that the necessary services are provided by someone in an effective manner.
The protection of our residents is the most vital service the county provides. Our law enforcement and courts receive a vast majority of the county's funding as a result of how important it is to our residents. Our Sheriff's Department and 911 operators provide integral services to help keep residents safe. The county also provides many crucial health services through the county health department and other local agencies, which are relied upon by many of the county's most vulnerable individuals including seniors, disabled and the developmentally challenged. The main purpose of county government is to help maintain a safe and healthy county for our residents to live, work, and play in.
After years of cutting expenses there aren't really any areas that could be targeted specifically to be cut. If the county finds itself in a situation where it needs to cut additional expenses due to weak revenues, it would likely be smaller cuts in widespread areas across the county budget and would not be targeted to any one department or area.
Hometown Grand Ledge, MI
Education B.A. Michigan State University J.D. Thomas M. Cooley Law School
Family I am married to my wife Tammy and together we have one daughter Vivian.
Professional Experience I've worked for the last 6 years in the Michigan Legislature in various roles.
Political Experience 4 years Grand Ledge Public Schools Board of Education
Starting at a young age community service has a focus for me. I started serving my community in the Boy Scouts, then I decided to serve my country in the United States Marine Corps. After I finished my time in the Marines, I went to Michigan State University followed by Cooley Law School. After law school I married my best friend Tammy and we moved back to Grand Ledge. After moving back, I got involved in the YES Center on the executive board, then ran for the GLPS Board of Education. These combined with my work experience have prepared me to deal with budgets in the thousands, millions, and billions.
No. At this time, the county just purchased land to make a new park in the southern half of the county. The Commission should hold fast for 2 years and evaluate how the parks budget handles this new acquisition. If elected, I will help ensure that the parks department is searching out grant money to develop this new park. I don't think that spending any additional general fund dollars on the parks at this time would be wise.
Not yet. The roads touch every aspect of life in Eaton County from farmers bringing in crops, to buses bringing kids to school. They are crucial. I don't think the roads are up to the quality that I expect yet. I'm interested to see what effect the 2014 Road Millage has on the quality of the roads in the county. If there is no improvement soon, then I think there would be an institutional problem with the Road Commission.
No. Eaton County passed a road millage in 2014. That 1.5 Mils additional should be starting to roll in now. I think that instead of asking the taxpayers to make an even larger investment in the roads we see what effect the millage has had and if there are ways to save money and get a greater return out of the dollars we're already spending.
I certainly don't want the scope and size of county government to increase. I think looking at efficiency should be the first consideration. What are we as taxpayers getting as a return on our investment? If we can continue the current mission of the board for less money, then we should. If we can do more with less, then we should.
No. Michigan has a long history of home rule. People need to have access to their community leaders.

However, cooperation is something that I encourage. While on the GLPS board of education I helped create a cooperative busing department with a neighboring district. That shared administration allowed both districts to save money. There was no need to add in another layer of government. We simply signed an agreement with the other district and have worked well with them ever since. This is the best way that I have found to promote efficiency while maintaining local control.
I would like to see increased oversight over the Sheriff's Department. If the county is liable for the actions of the department, there needs to be oversight.
When elected, my priorities will be helping the county deal with unfunded mandates and unfunded liabilities. These problems are created by two separate issues, but both affect the budget and policy of the county. The county has unfunded liabilities in pension and health care costs of the county employees. We need to ensure that the county can live up to the commitments it made, while not jeopardizing present services and programming. The unfunded mandates that are forced on the county by the State of Michigan continue to pile up. Short of legal action against the state, which the county can't afford, the only thing that will help is sound budgeting and being flexible with ideas.
No, with less revenue providing more services is a recipe for financial instability. Eaton County does not need to be the next county that ends up in financial management from the state because the Board of Commissioners made long term promises in face of declining revenues. With revenue in decline it is important to look for increased efficiency in the current services, not add additional services.
Roads. Without good quality roads, the rest of the services are inaccessible to the taxpayers. Without good roads, the sheriff might not make it to help you.
This is a tough question because every service is important to the people that access it. I would prefer to see reductions across the board that were smaller. Singling out one service for reduction may be less effective overall.