Democrats vie for clerk and treasurer nominations in Lansing Township

Two candidates are competing for Lansing Township treasurer

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Marilyn McKenzie, 74, graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in biology and political science. Then, she obtained a master’s degree in guidance and counseling. McKenzie has been in Lansing Township for 22 years. Before that, she clerk in Cheboygan County clerk. She is running against the incumbent, Leo Rodgers.

“The Treasurer’s Office in our township is pretty archaic,” said McKenzie. She said that they need to get more up-to-date technology so that the office can operate more efficiently.

McKenzie noted that the position of treasurer is now part-time. With the $53,000 that the township is saving, they plan to hire a part-time finance director. “We need someone who understands finances,” said McKenzie. “They’ll help get our township on another track. I look forward to working with them.”

In comparison to her opponent, McKenzie claimed that she has better leadership skills. “I get things done in a timely manner,” she said. “I can communicate effectively, and I can listen.” Rodgers did not respond to requests for comment.

McKenzie suggested that her experience on the Lansing Township Board gave her the opportunity to connect to the community. “I’ve voted in the best interests of the township and its residents. I can look ahead and see what the township needs,” she said.

McKenzie has been campaigning door-to-door — while wearing a mask — and has gotten good reception.

Rodgers has been the Lansing Township treasurer for the past eight years. According to a questionnaire on Vote411.org, Rodgers earned a B.A. from Sienna Heights University and a B.S. from Grand Valley State University.

Rodgers has served on the township board for 16  years. He said that he also has experience working with taxes and tech software.

Like McKenzie, Rodgers said that — in order to increase efficiency — he supports a technological overhaul in the treasurer’s office.

“The current pandemic has left residents with many uncertainties,” wrote Rodgers. He promised to accommodate Lansing taxpayers with a return envelope to make it easier to pay taxes by mail.

In his career as treasurer so far, Rodgers has offered his constituents transparency and excellent service, he claimed in the questionnaire.

Lansing Township clerk

In the race for Lansing Township Clerk, Democrats Mike Pleyte and Maggie Sanders are seeking to run against Republican incumbent Susan Aten. Aten has served as clerk for 22 years.

Pleyte, 35, served in the U.S. Army Reserves for six years, including a 12-month stint in Iraq. After that, he graduated from Michigan State University with a B.A. in philosophy. He was also trained as a public affairs specialist at the Defense Information School, a Department of Defense school located in Maryland.

Pleyte worked in the election division in the Clerk’s Office earlier this year in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential primary. He said that this gave him an inside view of the administration. In addition, Pleyte has worked on political campaigns for John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and — most recently — Elissa Slotkin.

When Pleyte moved to Lansing Township in 2017, he started going to board meetings and began to think that he could bring new ideas to the Clerk’s Office. “I’m a huge believer in openness and transparency in local government,” said Pleyte. “We’ll get a new website, new IT infrastructure and put more board information on the web. I think that would increase participation in township decision making.”

Pleyte said that his public service has prepared him for the job. “Public service is in my blood,” he said. “This is just another way to serve my community. I’m the best for the job.”

Sanders did not respond to requests for comment. According to her campaign website, she is a lifelong Lansing resident. She graduated from Lansing Community College with an associate’s degree in political science. After that, she earned an M.S.A. in public administration.

Over the years, Sanders has worked as an election inspector for Lansing Township and Meridian Township. She also served as the administrative assistant to the Meridian Township clerk.

Sanders wrote on her website, “I am a strong believer in leadership and empowering people to take ownership and to be involved in the things that they are passionate about. This is why I am running for Lansing Township Clerk!”

As for her platform, Sanders claimed that she wants to focus on upgrading the township’s parks. In addition, Sanders’ vowed to use the Clerk’s Office to foster a diverse and inclusive community — “one in which individuals of different races, ethnicities, religious beliefs, socioeconomic statuses, geographical origins, gender, and/or sexual orientation bring their different knowledge, background, experience, and interests together to benefit their community,” she wrote.

Like her opponent, Sanders expressed support for updating the township’s IT infrastructure and providing citizens with easy access to public information. She also promised to make sure that elections run smoothly so that all Lansing citizens have the opportunity to make their voices heard.

For each of these candidates, updating the township’s technology is a top priority. No matter who comes out on top, Lansing Township residents can probably expect to see changes coming to the township’s tech infrastructure.

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