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Meridian Township Trustee - 4 Year Term- Vote For Not More Than 4 {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

Meridian Township Trustee

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  • Brian Czubak
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Phil Deschaine
    (Dem)

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    Patricia Herring Jackson
    (Dem)

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    Dan Opsommer
    (Dem)

  • Debra Lee Piper
    (Rep)

  • Kathy Ann Sundland
    (Dem)

  • Jared S. Wilson
    (Rep)

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Biographical Information

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

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 local government? Yes or no, please explain.

Related to government structure, what would you change?

What are the three most important issues facing the city/township 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 city/township residents? Yes or no, please explain.

What city services do you consider most vital?

What city/township 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.

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Hometown Waterford, Michigan
Education Bachelor of Arts, University of Michigan
Family I am married to Gail Deschaine, I have three children, Marianne, Philip and Elizabeth Deschaine.
Professional Experience I have worked in Information Technology (IT) in the private sector for virtually my entire career. From 1987 to 2005 I owned my own business, Computer Assistance for Housing. I am currently the Sales Executive for Universal Software Solutions Inc. (www.Universalss.com).
Political Experience Meridian Township Park Commission ,Ingham County Housing Commission, Meridian Township Zoning Board of Appeals.
I have a very progressive balance of both public service engagement and private sector experience that makes me very qualified to serve as Meridian Township Trustee. I knows what it takes to effectively administer manage a large organization like Meridian Township Government. I have been involved in the Meridian Township community as a community leader, volunteer, parent, and coach for over 30 years. My strong professional experience and extensive community engagement make me highly qualified to serve as Meridian Township Trustee.
I support using some of our existing Township revenues to pay for road improvements in Meridian Townships. As for all the roads in Michigan, the Legislature needs to find ways to pay for much needed road improvements. Our roads and bridges in Michigan have been neglected and we need fix them in the coming years.
Local government is where most citizens get their most essential services. Local government provides police and fire protection, water and other essential utilities, parks and recreation, and ordinances and code enforcement, among many others. I am comfortable with the current structure and scope of our Meridian Township governmental operations. As Trustee I will work to ensure we continue to provide our high level of services efficiently and without increasing tax rates.
As trustee, I will respect all who come before the Township with fairness, civility, and respect. I will help to foster an environment where all - residents and small business owners – feel welcome and respected by the Township Board. I think it is very important to let our residents know where their tax monies are being spent. Our Township government needs to show our residends how tax revenues are being spent and the ways those expenditures make the township a safe and prosperous place to live and enjoy a high quality of life
1. Address the Pension Liability, I would address the pension liability issues by bringing together all stakeholders to discuss develop a strategy that meets our current commitments and provides a way for the Township reduce the current pension liability.

2. Revitalize Commercial Areas. The Township needs to work with local business and foster redevelopment in our aging commercial centers like the Haslett Village Square and the Okemos Four Corners areas.

3. Improve our transportation infrastructure of Roads, public transportation, and expanded connectivity of our trails. We need to fix our roads and extend our bike trails/paths within the Township and to connect to other communit
The County is already providing services to residents now, such as our Road Department. Regionalism is a good concept but our counties also rely on property taxes to fund services for our Residents. Regionalism does provide for more efficiency in local governments but this alone is not the whole answer. Problems with revenue sharing from the state really need to be addressed. The larger question may be is everyone paying their fair share of taxes or are residents paying a burden that should be shared with large companies such as our big box stores which have avoided paying their share of local taxes in Michigan.
Police, Fire, EMS are all essential to the health and safety of our residents. Recently Meridian Township completed a survey and found that Police/Fire/EMS services were the most highly valued by our residents. Also, our residents put a very high value on our 29 Parks and Land Preserves. As Meridian Township Park Commissioner i have helped develop a plan to redevelop the Central Park area into one consolidated park with more access and an expanded and improved Meridian Township Farmers Market.
As Trustee I will examine the budget very closely and work to eliminate non-essentials services. Township residents expect our Trustees, Supervisor, Clerk and Treasurer to be wise and careful in all spending decisions. As Trustee I will ensure the Township Board lives up to the expectations of our residents.
Yes
Hometown Okemos
Education B.S. Chemistry, Bennett College for Women Ph.D.Biochemical Pharmacology, Meharry Medical Collge
Family Married 3 Adult Children 2 Grandchildren
Professional Experience Researcher and Instructor, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, MSU
Political Experience None
Campaign Website http://jackson4meridian.com
Twitter http://n/a
I have lived in Meridian Township for 29 years. My three children attended schools in the Okemos Public School system and I continue to live in Meridian Township in my retirement. I have 16 years of experience as a Planning Commissioner for Meridian Township and 6 years as a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals. I have worked to the development of the Master Plan, adopted in 2005, and the Plan update, currently in development. In this work I have learned from many people what they desire and hope for from their lives in Meridian Township. My experiences as a government consumer, exposure and commitment as a citizen planner contribute to my preparation and qualifications.
Yes. As a Michigan taxpayer, I specifically support raising the state tax on gasoline or fuels and that the tax be applied on a per gallon or per unit basis. I believe this would present the fairest distribution of the cost of road improvements to all of the users of the roads. Taxes levied at the local level and tied to property values are less appealing to me as a taxpayer.
Yes, I am comfortable with the current structure and scope of Meridian Township government. From my current perspective and under current conditions, I am generally, pleased with how Meridian Township functions to meet the needs of it's residents and to protect their health, safety and general welfare.
At present, I don't have enough exposure or any specific suggestions or ideas for changing the structure of the Meridian Township government.
1. Redevelopment and revitalization of neighborhood and centralized commercial areas. This can be encouraged by strategies that simplify and speed up redevelopment activity.

2. The lack of suitable housing options for moderate and middle income families, particularly young families with school aged children. Potentially addressed in several ways including, rehabilitation of older housing stock and promoting multi-family development specifically for families with family oriented design rather than student oriented design.

3. How to integrate a more modern public transit system into Meridian Township that considers and accommodates the needs, exceptions of both current and future residents.
Yes, I would hope that the county governments would be willing and able to assume more responsibility for ensuring that local governments can, at least, maintain essential services under such circumstances.
In my opinion, the most important township services offered in Meridian Township are Police, Fire and other emergency services. Next, are the public health services including water and sewage services. Followed by a variety of transportation options and park development and maintenance also associated with public health and safety.
I believe that generally, Meridian Township is run rather leanly and efficiently. I am not aware of a function or service that I would deem more appropriate for elimination than others. I am aware that in the past, considerable efforts were made to manage the effects of declining resources by spreading cost cutting efforts over nearly all or most less-essential services and functions. I approve of this approach.
Yes, I have no issues with taxes (federal or state), alimony or child support obligations.
Hometown Meridian Township, MI
Education B.A. from Michigan State University in Journalism with an external specialization in History
Family Jamie Opsommer (Wife) Jack Davis (Son)
Professional Experience Chief of Staff to State Representative Jim Townsend (current) | Chief of Staff to State Representative Stacy Erwin Oakes (previous) | Legislative Assistant to State Representative Mark Meadows (previous)
Political Experience Chief of Staff to State Representative Jim Townsend (current) | Meridian Township Planning Commissioner (current) | Chief of Staff to State Representative Stacy Erwin Oakes (previous) | Legislative Assistant to State Representative Mark Meadows (previous)
Campaign Website http://www.DanOpsommer.com
As a township, we derive all of our authority from state law and our state constitution. It is very helpful when members of our Township Board are well versed in state law and our state constitution. Having served as the Chief of Staff to two members of the Michigan House of Representatives, I’m very well versed in state law and our state constitution and work on public policy that affects our local community and schools everyday.

I also serve on our Township Planning Commission, as the president-elect of the Kiwanis Club of East Lansing, and am an active member of the Haslett Beautification Association, Sierra Club and volunteer with Meridian Recycling and many other community projects.
Yes, ideally the state would adequately fund road repair. However, the Republican-controlled Legislature has failed to do so.

According to a report from the MDOT, 82% of state roads are presently in good or fair condition. Under the Republican road plan passed last November, only 54% of state trunk lines will be in good or fair condition by 2025 — a 34% drop in just nine years. Meanwhile the cost of repairing our roads will continue to increase.

Knowing that the state will not address this issue, I support asking residents if they would like to contribute more to properly maintain and repair our local roads. If we don’t address this issue our roads will continue to fall into disrepair.
I think the scope of local government is appropriate, but the state needs to restore revenue sharing to local communities and fund mandates that it places on local communities.

For instance, the Michigan Municipal League (MML) has analyzed census data to highlight how the state has diverted $7.5 billion away from local governments over the past decade. Michigan now ranks last amongst all states for municipal revenue growth.
I would encourage more mutual cooperation and shared services with neighboring communities and Ingham County whenever we can provide the same quality of service at a lower cost.

State government has placed many unfunded mandates on local government, which I believe should either be properly funded or reassumed by the state.
1. We need to revitalize and diversify our commercial areas. As a planning commissioner, I'm currently working on this issue through the Township's Master Plan update, which serves to create a vision for these areas.

2. Knowing that the state will not be helping us adequately fund road repairs, we need to find a long-term solution to ensure that we're able to properly maintain and repair our local roads and bridges.

3. We also need to address our Township’s unfunded pension costs and uphold our commitment to our employees and retirees. We should begin examining this issue by forming a financial review commission with a wealth of knowledgeable people who are well versed in municipal financ
Unfortunately, county government relies on property taxes and state aid as well so they are facing many of the same financial challenges. I support collaboration with neighboring communities and Ingham County whenever we can provide the same quality of service at a lower cost.

Meridian Township currently has agreements with other communities for assessor services; mechanical, electrical & plumbing permit fees and inspections; building permit inspections; recreation programs; police, fire and EMS services; senior citizen programs; technology improvement consortium; water supply; collaboration on tax cancellation; and tax bill printing services.
Police, Fire and Emergency Medical Services are our most vital services.

Residents also take great pride in our parks, trails and land preservation program. We are also required under state law to provide certain services, such as: assessing, tax collection, administering elections, and issuing building and planning permits.

We also have an excellent communications department, which helps keep our residents informed.
Due to the huge cuts in revenue sharing from the state and the Great Recession we have already cut many of our least vital services and had to cut our Township operations and personnel.

I support implementing efficiencies and collaborating with neighboring communities and Ingham County whenever we can provide the same quality of service at a lower cost.
Yes
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