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County Commissioner (Ingham County / 5Th District) - 2 Year Term - Vote For Not More Than 1

County Commissioner (Ingham County / 5Th District) - 2 Year Term - Vote For Not More Than 1

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  • William Douglas Ames
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Todd Tennis
    (Dem)

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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.

The county now levies seven special millages for issues such as healthcare, juvenile services, the zoo and parks and trails. A new millage is proposed for animal control services, and discussions are underway for a new jail, which could result in a millage. What is your position on the taxation level for services in Ingham County? Which millages would you propose eliminating? Would you support new millages, and if so, for what services?

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Hometown Lansing, MI
Education University of Michigan, B.A.
Family Wife Cheryl, son Troy
Professional Experience Staff Assistant, Office of Senator Fred Dillingham, 1993-4. Lobbyist, Capitol Services, Inc. 1995-present.
Political Experience Ingham County Commissioner, 1997-present
I've worked on state and local government issues ranging from economic development to equal rights for my entire career. I have served as the County Commission liaison to the Ingham Community Health Center Board since 2009 and am proud to have helped bring about the creation of the new Forest Health Center in south Lansing.
Before the Trails Millage was approved by county residents, county spending on parks had been flat for years. Our county parks such as Hawk Island and Potter Park are major attractions that not only provide residents with affordable, high quality recreational opportunities, but they are also vital to maintaining Ingham County as an appealing place for people to live and do business. While the county budget situation continues to face many challenges that will likely preclude additional parks spending in the near future, I will support policies that at the very least keep our parks well maintained.
I don't believe the quality of roads anywhere in Michigan is currently acceptable. The Michigan Legislature adopted a road funding plan last year that largely relies on future legislatures to divert funds from other sources to meet the pressing needs of transportation infrastructure. Nonetheless, we are hopeful that it will result in much needed state funds flowing to the county road department. If this happens, we will finally be able to address the failing conditions of many county roads.
Some counties have passed millages to fund road repairs based on the years of neglect at the state level. However, as I said in my previous answer, I want to wait until we see how the state road plan affects Ingham County before we consider asking county residents to pay more for roads.
Ingham County has worked hard to maintain a fiscally responsible but responsive local government. I am comfortable that we are striking an appropriate balance between efficiency and effectiveness.
I fully support regional efforts such as the consolidation of the 911 center that happened in 2014 and collaboration in areas ranging from parks to policing. I am very interested in future collaborations between local units of government and Ingham County, and perhaps even with neighboring counties like Clinton and Eaton.
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The most important issue that Ingham County has wrestled with in the last 6 years has been our budget. The first blow came from the Great Recession that slashed property values and gutted our property tax revenues. We responded by cutting services and offering voters the option of special millages to maintain and expand areas like health care and parks and recreation. Now, despite the fact that the economy has largely recovered, our revenues are still not keeping pace with costs. Add to that the fact that the state has severely restricted revenue sharing payments to local units of government, and Ingham County is still in the red. We will be forced to reduce more services in the future.
The county has, in my experience, filled in where other public entities fail to cover. When the City of Lansing decided it could not afford to continue operating Potter Park Zoo, the county stepped in and with a millage campaign took over the operations of this valuable regional asset. The county created a Community Health Center system since there was a pressing need for more primary health care options for residents. The county created the Ingham Family Center when the only options for adjudicated youth was to send them far away to expensive private facilities. It is true that we will need to reexamine these services, but I hope we can continue to provide a strong safety net.
Our health department not only keeps our food and water safe and our citizens healthy, but its operation and partnership of our Community Health Centers is vital to thousands of residents who depend on that for primary care. Our Sheriff's Department provides vital law enforcement services and operates the largest jail in the region,. I also believe that, while not as vital to health and safety as the aforementioned departments, our parks system is certainly vital to the well being and happiness of a large number or county residents. Our parks and trails are likely used by more residents than any other county agency.
This is a tough question because we have already reduced or shuttered many of the less vital operations over the last decade in response to previous budget crises. The recent passage of the animal control millage will not only allow us to build a badly needed new shelter, but will allow us to restore a handful of positions that were previously cut resulting in a skeleton crew at the shelter and on the roads.
Yes.
All county millages serve a purpose, whether it is providing health care for needy citizens, supporting service to veterans, or providing transit options for rural seniors and persons with disabilities. I am open to reviewing the efficacy and need for all our millages, and I agree that in terms of any new millages in the future we may be nearing the limit of what Ingham County voters will approve.

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