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Wednesday, July 28,2010

Ingham commission races

by Andy Balaskovitz

District 5 (Southeast Lansing)


The lone Democratic primary race for an Ingham County commission seat is the most heated. Kenneth Peterson, 55, wrote a letter to City Pulse June 16 saying his opponent, incumbent Andy Schor, is too young and focused on higher offices or other jobs to be an effective county commissioner.


Schor’s response: “He’s full of falsifications and inaccuracies. He is muzzling, wrong and mudslinging,” he said.


Schor, 35, a four-term Democrat whose day job is assistant director of state affairs for the Michigan Municipal League, said fixing the county budget due to low property values and state revenue sharing is his main priority as commissioner. Schor won 72 percent of the 2008 general election votes; but he was unchallenged in that year’s primary.


Peterson, in his first race for public office, thinks his name is equally as recognizable as Schor’s.


“It’s time to give people a choice,” said Peterson, a self-proclaimed moderate Democrat and retired Marine. Peterson is calling for more discipline when shaping budgets and thinks the board can be more proactive in soliciting donations for public services.


All other contested races are between Republicans.


District 4 (Central Lansing)


Vickie Niklas lost the 2008 race for this seat to a Democrat, but was unchallenged in the primary. Standing
in her way this year is Jennifer L. Smith, a full-time business
administration doctoral student who received her bachelor’s in social
science from Western Michigan University and MBA from Phoenix
University.


Smith
wrote in an e-mail that maintaining and enhancing county law enforcement
through a well-funded Sheriff’s Office is ideal. In turn, she wrote, a
safe public is a good business-attractor with potential to bring more
jobs to the area.


Niklas was unavailable for comment.


District 9 (East Lansing & Meridian Twp.)


Owen
Blank, a 32-year-old MSU mechanical engineering graduate and full time
Demmer Corp. engineer, is making his first run for a public office. He
is all about “trimming the fat” from inefficient departments, but thinks
police and fire operations are fine, and is sick of “willy-nilly”
county spending. He would like to see the CATA millage sink because he
thinks CATA can fund itself.


Robert
Batchelor is an East Lansing resident who spent 20 years in the
computer industry but is making a mid-life career change, attending LCC
for radiology. He wants to improve business friendly conditions in
Ingham County, make all county contract bidding competitive and keep the
Sherriff’s Department well funded, he wrote in an e-mail.


District 15 (Delhi & Aurelius twps.)


The
three Republicans fighting for a spot on the general election ballot should be excited: Democrat Laura Davis, who is not seeking re-election, only won the 2008 general
election by 38 votes. They are Barry Damon, 66, Vince Dragonetti, 62,
and Renee Sumerix, 41.


Damon
traveled “all over the world” in the Air Force after high school and
spent four years training at the Michigan Judicial Institute. He
promises to be accessible and pledges to cut taxes for all but police
and fire. He retired in 1997 and has run for various political offices
in his career.


Dragonetti
spent 35 years as a self-employed financial counselor and business
consultant. He is making his first run at an elected position with a
pledge to save public safety, roads, courts and emergency health
services.


Sumerix
is a full-time business operations doctoral student at the online-based
American Intercontinental University. She unsuccessfully ran in 2005 for
Delhi Township trustee and said it is most important that the Board of
Commissioners keeps open communication with the public while eliminating
budget inefficiencies.


District 16 (Mason and Leslie & Leslie, Oonadaga and Vevay twps.)


Leon
Black, 66, has run unsuccessfully for Lansing mayor, District 2 County
commissioner and Lansing City Council. The self-proclaimed “hardcore
Constitutionalist” wants to reorganize the rural police forces to make
them more efficient and is a strong proponent of the CATA and CADL
millages.


Black
faces incumbent Republican Don Vickers, 64, who has served on the board
intermittently since 2005. The retired principal was unchallenged in the
2008 primaries, but is sticking to absentee ballot mailings and
knocking on doors. He supports re-opening health-care clinics and the
local DARE program and making sure outer-county residents have easy
access to basic public services.

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