County Commissioner (Ingham County / 7Th District) - 2 Year Term - Vote For Not More Than 1

County Commissioner (Ingham County / 7Th District) - 2 Year Term - Vote For Not More Than 1

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    Kara Hope

  • Leslie Markwort

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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?

Hometown Holt
Education Bachelor's degree from Michigan State University; Juris Doctor from Cooley Law School
Family Married to Evan Hope; raising our niece Emma, 18, and nephew Jared, 13
Professional Experience Owner of solo family law practice; taught legal writing classes at Cooley for six years; worked in pre-hearing division of Michigan Court of Appeals
Political Experience first elected to Ingham County Board of Commissioners in 2012; re-elected in 2014
Campaign Website
I have the experience, the compassion, and the common sense to continue to do a good job. It is critical that local leaders know what their community considers important. I have been engaged and working to better my community ever since I moved here more nearly 11 years ago. I started a nonprofit here in Holt, and I have volunteered my time for various local projects and causes. So I have the requisite knowledge and personal investment to represent my community. It has become a cliché for elected officials to say that they care, but I do care. I care about the residents of my district, the residents of the County, and the entire region.
The county will spend more on its parks as well as on trails within the county with funds from the parks and trails millage that passed in 2014. Our parks are a vital element of county residents' quality of life. The parks provide a venue for recreation, exercise, and community events. So it is my hope that this funding source -- the millage -- will be available for years to come. As a service that is not constitutionally or legally mandated, the parks were somewhat neglected during the Great Recession as scarce funds were directed elsewhere. With the millage, the county can address some pent-up needs in the parks while also maintaining and improving our trails system.
No, but our roads reflect the funding available. Our Road Department actively pursues funding, and it makes the most of that funding. The Ingham County Road Department does a great job with what little funding they have received, and it looks forward to receiving additional funding from the state in 2017.
It depends. It would be difficult for me to support raising County property taxes for road improvements because the amount of money needed for residents to see an improvement in the roads would require a very sizeable millage. But there is no question that the legislature still has not come up with a comprehensive, sensibly funded transportation and infrastructure plan. They have stuck with half measures and election-year gimmicks. Frankly, this is one issue on which just about everyone seems to agree – which should tell the legislature that it needs to act.
Yes. For the most part, the structure and scope of county government are products of the state Constitution and state laws.
This is not a question of different levels of government expanding or receding. It is a question of being open to change -- to improving relationships among the different levels of government for the benefit of residents. In the Greater Lansing area, we have seen successful examples of official collaboration like the Ingham County 911 Center and the automatic mutual aid agreement among fire departments. But there is definitely organic movement toward collaboration as well. One example is Delhi Township’s decision to construct its trail system so that it connects with Lansing’s River Trail.
This is not something that one elected official at the county level has the power to change. I act responsibly and try to do the most good that I can within the structural limits of county government.
(1) Constraints on revenue like the Headlee amendment, Proposal A, the loss of personal property taxes, and the state’s failure to fairly share sales-tax revenue with local governments (2) Inability to pay for capital needs due in large part to constraints on revenue. (3) De facto unfunded state mandates like the sharp increase in the County's responsibility for "childcare" (foster-care) expenses. All of these problems require legislative change and an improvement in the state's attitude toward local units of government. It is simplistic to think that cuts in spending are always the answer. When spending is cut, services are cut, too, even though the demand for services remains.
Probably not, but this isn't a question of appropriateness. It's a question of funding. If there is no revenue source for a service, the County can't provide that service.
There are certain functions that the County performs and services that it provides that are required by the state Constitution and by statute. Not only must these services be provided, the state Constitution also requires that these functions be provided at a “serviceable level.” Consequently, the County must first protect these legally required functions in its budget. Aside from those legally required functions and services, I prioritize helping our most vulnerable citizens meet their basic needs.
Ask any department head in the County, and they will tell you that there is really nothing left to cut. Some County departments are operating with fewer employees than ever, even though demand for services has increased. Additional cuts would further impair services, both those that are legally mandated and those that the public has come to expect. More cuts would cause the quality of life in Ingham County to deteriorate, and this would have far-reaching effects. It would hinder Ingham County’s economic recovery. The goal is to find the right balance between providing the services that the public expects with the public’s willingness to pay for those services.
I have no alimony or child-support obligations, and all of my taxes are paid.
This goes back to balancing the public's expectations with their willingness to pay for certain services. Residents approved the trails and parks millage, and they approved the animal control and shelter millage. These votes tell me that the majority of residents value these services so much that they want a dedicated source of revenue to fund them. I don't like asking residents to pay more taxes, but sometimes it is necessary. And unfortunately, unless the constraints on revenue are eased or lifted, dedicated millages might become even more common.
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