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Wednesday, August 1,2012

It's hot in Delhi

Raising taxes and fiscal conservatives in little old Delhi Township

by Sam Inglot

Observers say the politics are heating up like never before in Delhi Township, particularly in a competitive Republican primary for township supervisor. 

The incumbent, Republican Supervisor Stuart Goodrich, says his Tea Party-favored opponent is “straight out lying” to potential voters, making up scenarios that would tax people based on the amount of hard surface areas on their properties.

Goodrich says his opponent is accusing him of pushing a fictional “rain tax” that Goodrich says isn’t being planned. The alleged tax would charge residents based on the size of the hard surface areas of their households, like driveways and roofs.

Goodrich said the tax is being used as negative campaign cannon fodder by his opponent even though the supposed tax doesn’t exist and isn’t even in the planning stages. 

Goodrich, who has served as township supervisor for 10 years, said there was talk of the tax at a group session for board members as part of possible storm water management five to 10 years down the road. The other Republican candidate, Jeff Hall, has run with the notion of the new tax and is using it against Goodrich. 

On Hall’s campaign website, he said he is combatting the “Good Old Boys’ Club” that is running Delhi Township. He said he opposes the tax while Goodrich supports it. 

“It’s interesting that it’s never been on the table,” Goodrich said. “They’re straight out lying. They are fabricating things, and this is coming from a so-called minister. Delhi has never had politics like this.”

Hall is a local pastor and vocal opponent of Goodrich’s policies. Goodrich said Hall’s campaign is run by the Tea Party; Hall denies he’s a Tea Party member, though he identifies with its fiscally conservative views. 

The two candidates had a very public battle earlier this year when Hall came out in staunch opposition to a sludge dryer proposal spearheaded by Goodrich that voters rejected in May. Goodrich accuses Hall of “misinforming” the public when it came to the costs of the dryer. 

The election for township supervisor is held every four years. Along with appointing commission members and helping to create the township budget, the supervisor has general oversight of township functions and board meetings. The position is part time. 

A licensed optician, Goodrich has owned and operated Goodrich Optical since 1968. He’s been endorsed by Democratic Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth, radio host Tim Barron and U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton. 

“I would like to consider myself a ‘thinking Republican,’” Goodrich said. “I vote for something not because it’s presented by Republicans or Democrats, but because it’s what’s best for my township.”

Hall is the founder and pastor of the non-denominational Community Faith Church in Holt, which has 75 members. He is the former president of Ingham County Right-to-Life and the founder of Kingdom Come International, a non-profit missionary and humanitarian outreach group. 

He wants to cut township costs and opposes raising or implementing new taxes. 

“What needs to be changed is the current focal point of the township,” Hall said. “The board just keeps looking for more projects to spend money on.”

Democrats Tim Currin and C.J. Davis are also vying for a shot at the position in November. 

A rookie politician, Currin has been with the Ingham County Sheriff’s Department for nearly 25 years. A sergeant with the department, he supervises the jail night shift. He said he has been the president of the correctional division with Fraternal Order of Police and has been with the organization for 16 years. 

Currin calls himself a “fiscally responsible moderate.” He is against raising or implementing new taxes and would likely eliminate the full-time township manager position, he said, making the supervisor position full time instead. Although running as a Democrat, Currin said he is unwilling to consider raising taxes and has not actively sought endorsements. He also is opposed to the supposed “rain tax.”

“I want a balanced budget without raising taxes,” Currin said. “I believe we can cut some spending without cutting programs, I want to encourage smart growth with no new taxes.”

Challenging Currin for the Democratic spot is C.J. Davis, who decided to run, he said, after being approached by Delhi-area Democrats. Also a politica neophyte, Davis has been the general manager at Dusty’s Cellar restaurant in Okemos for four years. He has a degree in communications from the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Ill. He said he has received endorsements from the Delhi Democrats and the UAW. 

Davis said his communication and budgeting skills in the restaurant industry easily translate to public service. 

Along with holding banks accountable for the condition of foreclosed properties, Davis said he is supportive of wise township spending, comparing upkeep and investment to homeownership.  

“You need to build roads and sewers,” he said. “To say you want to do nothing is not smart, just so you can say you won’t raise people’s taxes. At times we need to invest in our infrastructure. It’s like owning a house. It works on the township level as well as with homeownership.”

 

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