Bath Township Supervisor Jack Phillips is squaring off against two fellow Democrats in next month’s primary election: Rick Curtis and Marie Howe. The winner will serve a four-year term. Phillips declined an interview, but his challengers each outlined their plans for the township.
Marie Howe, 72, has lived in Bath Township for the last 22 years. She retired in 2003 after a lengthy career that included time in the U.S. Marshals Service and as a sergeant-at-arms for the state legislator before moving into politics as a legislative director for a Michigan representative.
She said she decided to run for supervisor because of a desire to give back to the local community and to correct “significant problems” with the current leadership of the township.
“There have always been issues with our budget,” Howe said. “To me, taxpayers pay in and should expect to get something meaningful back in return. We need to look much more closely at how those dollars are being spent and the public needs to be brought into the conversation.”
Her top priorities include a careful review of how tax dollars are spent, empowering township committees to make township-level decisions and more open communication with residents.
“Proper leadership is something that makes a difference on how spending plays out,” Howe added. “It’s not that we don’t have a balanced budget, but we need to be careful and we need to empower these committees to be able to make informed decisions on how to run the township.”
Howe said she wants to do a better job engaging local residents on decisions that impact how their tax dollars are spent in Bath Township. She also wants to better support — and directly promote — small businesses within the township to ensure a more prosperous economic future.
“If a small business owner was going to support me, it would be in the hope that economic development would continue to grow locally,” she added. “I don’t even know who the businesses are locally, and so I’m very interested in digging in to see how we can promote them further.”
Howe also said she wants to see more diversity on township-level committees — particularly from women — amid a push for social equity. She also told City Pulse that she supports Joe Biden and recognized there are problems posed by police discrimination and climate change.
“It can be very difficult to just go with the wind,” Howe added. “There is a moral compass and it’s hard for me to deviate from it. If there’s an issue, I’m willing to sit and listen but I’ll also always have to come back to where I stand with something. I see myself as a leader with a vision.”
Rick Curtis, 62, has lived in Bath for most of his adult life, took courses in township governance at Lansing Community College, Michigan State University and the Michigan Township Association and has owned his construction company, Curtis Builders, for more than 35 years.
Curtis is endorsed by “too many” businesses and former teachers to list, he told City Pulse. He previously served two terms as a trustee in Bath Township from 2008 to 2012, in addition to currently serving as the chairman of Bath Township’s Downtown Development Authority.
“We need to end reckless spending, restore our neglected committees and keep our taxes low and manageable,” Curtis said. “There has also been talk of East Lansing taking over the Chandler area of Bath, and I will fight that initiative. We have far too much invested and too many citizens who would be adversely impacted by a short-term gain to allow that to proceed.”
Curtis said his top priorities include more fiscal responsibility, enhanced communication with the public and the prompt appointment of 24 vacancies across 15 separate township committees.
“When the public has questions, they deserve answers. As supervisor, I work for the public,” Curtis explained to City Pulse. “Everything I do in that office is the public’s business. They have a right to ask any questions they wish pertaining to the position. I will answer their concerns.”
Curtis said he’d also work closely with the DDA to enhance Bath Township, which will encourage more businesses, employment and economic growth. He also touted a lengthy list of personal experiences in fighting for racial justice and against “social injustice in all forms.”
“None of us are free until we are all free,” Curtis said. “Everyone needs an opportunity to prove themselves. That’s how I’ve run my company for decades, and it’s how I’ll run Bath Township.”
Among those local services Curtis would always protect from cuts: Police and Fire departments.
“I work hard, and others will too. I never expect others to do that which I’m not willing to do myself,” he added. “I am fiscally conservative. We will have a balanced budget all four years of my leadership. I’m easy to talk to, I understand them, and they know and understand me.”
— KYLE KAMINSKI