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Eaton County Commissioner District 5

Eaton County Commissioner District 5, vote for 1

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    Jeanne Pearl-Wright
    (Dem)

  • Mark G. Sands
    (Rep)

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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, MI
Education Western Michigan, B.A., Secondary Education, History Major, Political Science and Psychology minors. Lansing Community College, A.A. Business Management
Family Three grown children (1 married), 1 infant grandson
Professional Experience Retired teacher as of July 2015 on pension from Office of Retirement Services, State of Michigan, currently 4 1/2 yrs Director of youth/community nonprofit est. 1995. Part of the nonprofit duties is coordinating 10 summer Bike Camp sessions and supporting the agency through ongoing grant writing and volunteer recruitment while overseeing the revenues and expenditures. Licensed real estate sales person State of Michigan since 1980.
Political Experience Eaton Dist 5 County Commissioner, Jan. 2005 to Dec. 2010 (3 terms) Chair Health & Human Services committee 2 terms, served on Finance/Ways and Means 2 terms, Personnel, Equalization (taxes), Public Works and Planning 2 terms, served on Barry-Eaton District Board of Health 6 years,
I have the experience and had a 100% attendance for all county board meetings during all 3 terms (6 years) of my elected Dist 5 position in the past. While a county commissioner representing the citizens of Dist 5 of Delta Twp, I served on various committees and outside boards to promote a better life for all young to seniors. While being a county commissioner I served on Ways and Means for 4 of my 6 years. During the tough times we reduced staffing by nearly 50 employees yet delivered the balanced budgets and services, making up for staffing cuts by wise use of technology. The medical facility was expanded and a new dental clinic was erected, plus Fox Park was updated using DNR funds.
The county in comparison to the other counties in our region Three, spends as much if not more on Parks than the other counties. Our county board belongs to Michigan Association of Counties and Eaton is assigned to S.M.A.R.T (region 3). Due to Eaton having an updated 5-yr plan in place on park enhancements, we are able to apply for DNR Trust Fund monies and regularly do keep enhancing our park amenities. With the general fund allocations per year and the DNR monies, I feel that Eaton has a park system to be proud of at afford gate fees for the public. During my time as County Commissioner our board also became one of the few county parks (Fox Park) to have an Observatory.
At the moment I believe the county roads in many of the areas are not acceptable. However, with the millage that was passed with a yes vote by the citizens nearly 2 years ago now and in effect for a 12 year length of time, the county local roads will become yearly in better shape than over the past decades of deterioration. The millage is to be used for local roads only such as subdivision roads and country roads. As of January 1, 2017, at the State level that the legislature already passed in 2015, there will be a 9 cent a gallon tax applied to fuel which is to go to state level road projects. Included in this fuel tax increase, a 20% increase in yearly car registration will be added.
In Eaton County, there was already a local road millage passed in 2014 to be used on our local county roads. The State legislature approved an increase in the gas tax of 9 cents a gallon in 2015 due to take effect January 2017. With cars becoming more fuel efficient, the crumbling infrastructure, some type of revenue had to be raised. I do have a concern as the U.S. Congress looks to raise taxes for road repairs since our Eaton local taxes have been raised and also the State level will begin in January 2017. We do need to keep transpiration affordable to keep people able to get to work and back plus support their families and needs.
In Eaton County when I was County Commissioner, we reduced staffing levels by nearly 50 employees. Good use of technology has taken up some of the time spent by a staff person. However, I believe that at this time, the county is staffed at a suitable level. With wage stagnation, I do not believe we can ask more of our residents even as costs of operating services at the county level does expand. From my years as commissioner, I found that the county employees are very cooperative and understanding of the tight budgets we all live and work under. The employees are dedicated public employees and understand that the Board must present a balanced budget yearly while serving the core function
I believe that each governmental entity serves a valuable purpose. However, I do believe that regional and collaborative efforts where it makes good cost saving sense should apply. In these tight times, every aspect of service delivery to the public should be examined on a routine regular basis. I also believe in public/private partnerships to deliver services where it can produce services at a reduced cost such as when I was a county commissioner and the Eaton County Dental Clinic was created on the county complex. This met an unmet need to offer dental care for those of low income or on Medicaid since few accepted Medicaid but a private nonprofit staffs and administers the services.
I would like to change the length of time a person serves on the Eaton County Road Commission from 6 year term to a term of 3 years if I had the choice. I would have it staggered in years so there was always people of seniority but I believe six years is too long a term of office to be appointed to that position. The county board appoints from public applications those that serve on the Road Commission in Eaton County. I am in agreement that when a term expires, that the person is considered for reappointment by following the same application process as the general public.
1) Balanced budget; 2) Public safety; 3) Government transparency During the budget process, the Board must follow the law that we are to produce a balanced budget to submit to the State of Michigan yearly, this takes compromise. Not all get what they want and it's up to the board to agree how to fund mandated services and yet have appropriate staffing levels. This process also includes appropriate funding of public safety which entails training, equipment and other needs to attract competent staff. To ensure government transparency, while I was commissioner, the Board made a big step forward in that arena by having a county website that addressed all sorts of information such as agendas.
According to a July 10 article in the LSJ, Michigan has had stagnate wages since 2000, nearly 15 years now. As we begin to recover from the Recession of 2002 that was national and the basic Depression in Michigan starting in 2008 where our unemployment rate was over 14% and now is 4.7%, I do believe that housing prices are now rising and thus property tax revenues will rise from the financial crisis of 2008 when property values so quickly declined. This increase in property values will increase the revenues over time to the county for services, staffing and possibly increase state aide. I do believe that as the population of Delta Twp. and the county ages, changes will have to be made.
1)Public Safety/Courts; 2)All state mandated core functions (such as having a jail, providing birth certificates, judges staff, marriage licenses, maintain a concealed weapons board, maintain staffing so Veteran's can access mandated services and many many more); 3)Mandated monies from county budget to support the functions of the Barry-Eaton District Health Department
Yearly needs of the departments and public change. New state and federal laws also effect delivery of county services. An operating budget must be produced yearly. As County Commissioner it is important to give detailed review for the budgets of each area of county control to determine the best approach towards either expanding or reducing services based on need, utilization, and their priority. No department should be above scrutiny and difficult choices must be made to ensure a balanced budget that meets needs and is within means.
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