6 candidates vie for four slots for Delta Township trustee

Three newcomers run alongside three incumbent Democrats in August primary

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Six Democrats are vying for four seats on the Delta Township Board of Trustees. Trustees Fonda Brewer, Andrea Cascarilla and Karen Mojica are running for reelection. Dennis Fedewa is running unopposed for township treasurer, freeing up a fourth trustee slot. Democrats Beth Bowen, Doug Kosinski and Arnold Weinfield are seeking a first term. Mojica didn’t return calls. Brewer declined an interview. Cascarilla, Bowen, Weinfeld and Kosinski agreed to an interview.

Cascarilla, 51, was born in Delta Township, has lived there for the last 28 years and is seeking her second, four-year term as trustee. She has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Michigan State University and worked in government relations for the state Legislature before moving Acuitas, a private, multi-client, government relations, lobbying and creative firm in Lansing.

Cascarilla is endorsed by the UAW CAP Council, the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce PAC and a number of community leaders, including Lansing Mayor Andy Schor, Lansing Township Supervisor Diontrae Hayes and State Rep. Angela Whitwer, among several others.

“When it comes to governance and decision making as a member of this board, it’s vitally important that we really try to think thoughtfully about every policy decision we’re making and how that can impact local residents,” Cascarilla said. “I think I have a great deal of experience that has positioned me well to continue to build on the strong leadership in Delta Township.”

Cascarilla identified three key priorities if elected to another term: Continued prudent financial management in the wake of COVID-19, pursuing policies to alleviate systemic issues like racial injustice and social inequity and keeping the township an affordable place to live, work and play.

“Delta Township has already done a great deal of work, but social justice is clearly an area where we can always improve, so I want to continue to improve and evaluate our practices to ensure we’re doing everything we can to keep this a strong, healthy and diverse community.”

In addition to aggressively recruiting diverse employees into the township, Cascarilla wants to focus on community amenities, like trails and bike baths, to make the township a more walkable and connected community for both local businesses and residents to prosper, she explained.

“Fortunately, the current board and our employees have been able to take some steps to avoid substantial cuts to our financial reserves,” Cascarilla added. “I’d really point to our staff, but I’ve also really tried to address any questions or concerns from residents at all times. I want people to feel like they’re truly being served by their elected officials, and I try to bring that to the table.”

Bowen, 45, has lived in Delta Township for six years and serves as the secretary for the Eaton County Democratic Party and as a vice president at Vanguard Public Affairs in Lansing. Her boss — TJ Bucholz — is also running for a slot on the Eaton County Board of Commissioners.

Bowen has a master’s degree from Central Michigan University and an expansive background in communications and technical writing, having worked for both Dart Container and Jackson National Life Insurance before quickly climbing the ranks to vice president at Vanguard.

“I see an opportunity in Delta Township to change the focus of the board from people who are steeped in business experience to a broader array of experiences,” Bowen said. “That’s why I’m running as a community leader, an activist and someone there to truly serve our local residents.”

Bowen lost a primary for state representative to Whitmer in 2018 and has dedicated her professional life to various community-focused issues like promoting absentee voting. Her writing experience lends well to progressive issues and community involvement, she said.

Her top three priorities: public health and safety, growing a stronger “sense of community” locally and seeking out and answering to underserved communities within Delta Township.

“Delta Township has a distinct identity from Lansing, but we only have one community event each year,” Bowen said. “I’d like to see more events that bring the community together, not only to further identify ourselves as a township but to attract some new economic stimulation here.”

Bowen wants to ramp up funding for police and fire services, help launch a farmers market and find different activities for all age groups, single adults, families, senior citizens, empty nesters and everyone in between. Variety is important, she said.

“Part of that is seeking out underserved communities, asking what they need and finding better ways to deliver that from the township. If the only thing I can do is connect them to resources, then fine, I have served my purpose,” Bowen explained. “That’s a good function to serve.”

Bowen said bolstering the local economy is about attracting large employers, but also giving new opportunities to smaller businesses that allow them to succeed in Delta Township.

“I want to partner with residents and businesses to find creative solutions. It’s not just about them telling me problems and fixing them. It’s two-way communication that’s about listening just as much as action. I’ll work with people, listen and develop these solutions together,” she said, noting she envisions serving a couple terms before passing off the torch to another new leader.

Weinfeld, 61, has lived in Delta Township for about 30 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Michigan University and spent 20 years working in the state Legislature before serving for another 10 years in top executive roles at the Michigan Municipal League.

He serves as associate director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University.

“I like to be collaborative,” Weinfeld explained. “I believe that you can never communicate enough. You can never ask enough questions. So, if there’s an issue on the table, I’m going to be asking questions in a very open, transparent style of leadership. I like to build a consensus, realizing that, at times, that you have to make decisions that really not everyone is going to like.”

Weinfeld also served on the board for Waverly Community Schools and serves on the Delta Township Planning Commission, among several other community roles.

His top priorities include focusing on economic development in the Saginaw Highway corridor, improving infrastructure like the senior center and the library and efficiently using tax dollars.

“Certainly, the Lansing Mall — like many malls across the country — is going to have a lot of issues that need to be addressed and I view this as a communitywide issue,” Weinfeld said. “We need to do everything we can to make that area a more vibrant center of Delta Township again.”

Weinfeld said he didn’t support using township reserve funds to make improvements at local parks and would rather see that money dedicated toward a better contract with local firefighters. He also plans to ask “tough questions” about every expenditure made at the township level.

“I’ve dealt with million-dollar budgets and I’m used to serving in leadership roles,” Weinfeld said. “I’ve found my way into leadership roles with about every organization I’ve worked with. I understand the process and feel I’m more than capable of serving residents of Delta Township.”

Kosinski, 70, has lived in Delta Township for 26 years. He has a bachelor’s degree from Saginaw Valley State University, a master’s degree in political science from Michigan State University and has worked as a researcher and program manager for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Corrections before he retired last year.

Kosinski already served one term on the township’s Board of Trustees from 2012 to 2016 and returned for another because he “genuinely cares about the township and its citizens,” he said.

“I think my combination of experience and training allows me to bring a unique perspective to the township’s decision-making process,” Kosinski said. “My entire background is in research, creating processes and presenting information to improve the quality of decisions being made. We’re going to need to think critically as we make tough decisions over the next couple years.”

Kosinski’s focus areas include efficiently maneuvering through a challenging economic forecast in the wake of COVID-19 and effectively balancing public safety, infrastructure and other social services — each of which are areas that Kosinski said represent top priorities for local residents.

“Too often we get presented with a false choice, like we can either fund public safety or the parks,” Kosinski said. “I think that’s a false choice. I think we need to drill a little deeper to make those decisions as efficiently as possible. I think we’ll often find it’s not just one thing or another.”

Kosinski also wants to ensure township-contracted police services with the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office are routinely reviewed for potential improvements — with a focus on finding ways to improve services to local residents through the lens of racial justice and social equity.

He also wants to ramp up a social safety net with things like mental health and substance abuse services for local residents. Each could reduce an overreliance on law enforcement, he added.

“I’m very much an information-driven leader,” Kosinski added. “That means I will actively seek and welcome input from every aspect of the township — from citizens to businesses. I will seek out their ideas and opinions, listen to what’s important to them and not be afraid to admit mistakes. I’m very much in favor of balanced leadership that arrives at decisions collaboratively.”

Editor's Note: This story was updated to correctly identify a quote attributed to Doug Kosinski.

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