Eight candidates vie for four seats on Grand Blanc Twp. board



GRAND BLANC TWP. — Eight candidates are running for four, four-year terms on the Grand Blanc Board of Trustees in the Nov. 3 election.

Incumbent Joe Massey and seven residents – Joel Feick, Sarah Hugo, Paul White, Jude Rariden, Ryan Thompson, Jay Johnson and Christopher Estes – are vying for four seats on the board.

Here is what the candidates had to say:

Joe Massey, Age: No response

Education: BS, Mechanical Engineering; MBA (Finance / Leadership)

Accomplishments: Spearheaded the Fire Commission that dissolved the joint venture between the Township and the City of Grand Blanc, which resulted in thousands of dollars in yearly cost savings to Township residents.

Supported the effort to dissolve a 40-year Parks and Recreation AGREEMENT between Grand Blanc City and the Township that had never been updated during the 40-year period. This dissolution resulted in thousands of dollars of savings to the Township.

Lead the way to change how the Township invests it monies monthly and yearly, resulting in additional income dollars for the Township.

Supported the initiative to eliminate and revise Township ordinances that are outdated.

Supported the initiative to bring new jobs and businesses to the Township.

Created a Street Committee to evaluate and make the necessary repairs to all streets and roads in the Township within two years.

Supported efforts to revise all Township policies that have served their useful life.

Tell us what your goals are for the community if elected? Reduce the price of water to residents in 2021; B) Stop the water waste due to leakage. Currently, residents are covering the costs for the 6 percent of the water that annually goes into the ground; C) Continue to bring new businesses to Grand Blanc Township.

Joel Feick, Age: 64

Education: Graduate of the University of Toledo

Accomplishments: Director of Development at the Disability Network, long time television news reporter at two local stations, Emmy winner former teacher at Mott Community College, former president of Cook Harbor Neighborhood Association, attends Holy Family Catholic Church and is married to Christine, son Lucas attends U of M Flint.

Tell us what your goals are for the community if elected? I will advocate for more open and transparent board meetings. No more back room deals on major decisions. I will stop the micro-managing of the superintendent. We hired that person to do a job. Let them do it.

Focus on new jobs, especially in the tech sector, to add to our tax base. I’ll attempt to find new ways to lower taxes in the Township. Other nearby jurisdictions are doing it. Why can’t we?

I’m in favor of strong police and fire departments. But I’d require them to have training that promotes dignity and respect of all people.

I’d like to see improvements to our parks and recreation with more trails to promote physical activity.

The Township board needs to be more respectful of each other and residents. We need more civility.

I’d advocate for people with disabilities to ensure all new building projects are ADA compliant.

I will be a consensus-builder to work with other jurisdictions including the City of Grand Blanc, on goals that are mutually beneficial.

Paul J. White, Age: 35

Education: B.A., Saginaw Valley State University; M.A., University of Massachusetts Amherst; J.D., Michigan State University

Accomplishments: Board Member, Genesee County Bar Association Board of Directors; 2020 Fellow, Saginaw Valley State University Henry Marsh Institute for Public Policy

Tell us what your goals are for the community if elected? My goals include attempting to reorient the Board away from its previous tendencies toward self-dealing, backroom politics, and literally creating its “downtown” out of an area of vacant land while older, already developed areas of the township struggle.

First, I would push for an ordinance regulating rental housing in the township. The housing stock is probably our greatest asset and yet there is no way to ensure landlords are maintaining their properties to an appropriate standard to protect their neighborhoods. I live in a neighborhood with a fair amount of rental homes and it is quite easy to tell which homes are rental properties. This is unacceptable. Requiring registration and periodic inspection of rental properties benefits all residents and aligns the township with comparable communities. Township residents need to be sure their Board prioritizes stamping out problems before individual homes and neighborhoods succumb to blight that then spreads elsewhere.

Second, I would also push for a new comprehensive plan to rethink and rezone northern portions of Saginaw, Dort, and Fenton Roads. Quite frankly, many of these northern parts of the township are unattractive, blighted and do not signal a successful community. I literally drive by a boarded-up building to reach my home every day and it does not appear that code enforcement has any presence in certain neighborhoods. The northern part of the township has often been neglected or forgotten at the expense of new development in the southern part of the township. I believe the township should only offer tax breaks for rehabilitating and redeveloping existing or obsolete properties – not for corporate welfare in developing vacant land. And yet historically the township board has prioritized subsidizing developing vacant land over redeveloping already existing, but struggling, areas.

Jude Thaddeus Rariden, Age: 61

Education: Ph.D. – Michigan State University (Criminal Justice), M.A. – University of Detroit- Mercy (Criminal Justice) and B.A. – University of Michigan – Flint (Political Science)

Accomplishments: Graduate of FBI National Academy #232, Police Captain (retired) – Grand Blanc Township (approximately 30 years of service in law enforcement), Grand Blanc Township Trustee (2012 – 2016), College Professor – Lake Superior State University and Personnel Assessment Systems – CEO.

Tell us what your goals are for the community if elected? My priorities center on continued strong support for our Public Safety Departments. Our police officers and firefighters work every day to provide a safe environment for our citizens. They are one of the anchors keeping our community strong.

I would like to see our Parks and Recreation Department expand opportunities to address the needs of residents of all ages and abilities. If feasible, I would love to see the park system expand to include “pocket” parks closer to residential areas.

I will continue to endorse the use of our DPW in providing snowplowing services for our Township roads. I will support the DPWs efforts to improve Grand Blanc Township’s infrastructure in a cost-effective manner.

I plan on working with other elected officials to re-hire former Superintendent Dennis Liimatta. The Township, through his stewardship, was able to grow and prosper. One way he did this was by restructuring retiree healthcare costs. This alone saved Township residents millions of dollars. It is important for our community to move forward and capitalize on those hard-earned gains and there is not a better person to do this than Dennis Liimatta who was the architect behind this growth.

Sarah Hugo, Age: 43

Education: Associates Degree from Baker College – Business Administration, Personnel Assistant – Grand Blanc Community Schools (over 20 years)

Accomplishments: Married to Brian – 16 years, son – Benjamin – 11 years old, graduate of Grand Blanc Township Citizen’s Police Academy, on the Board of Directors for McKennas Squad Beauty Bar (a non-profit organization created in honor of McKenna Schummer). Nominated for the Chamber of Commerce Children’s Hero Award in 2018; Volunteer for Tim Tebow’s Night to Shine.

Tell us what your goals are for the community if elected? I am a long-time resident of Grand Blanc Township and care deeply about my community. I am an individual who values honesty, transparency, ethical decision-making and respectful interaction. I started attending Grand Blanc Township Board meetings regularly due to my concern for our neighborhood roads. One of my goals is to streamline the Special Assessment District (SAD) process. If elected, I will bring those ideas to the board and do my part to contribute to a positive culture.

I think it’s extremely important for the new members to have a good working relationship…… Including but not limited to: Trust, Mutual Respect, Mindfulness, Welcoming Diversity and Open Communication. The better and more effectively they communicate, the better the relationships will be.

I am not influenced by political aspirations beyond rebuilding a more productive, smoothly functioning Grand Blanc Twp. Board. My passion, enthusiasm, integrity and determination will be essential in identifying and accomplishing goals for our community.

Ryan Thompson, Age: 43

Education: Grand Blanc High School Grad. Business bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University

Accomplishments: Operate three 3 Grand Blanc businesses. Served four years as Grand Blanc Township trustee and Planning Commission member. Substitute on the Grand Blanc Township Zoning Board of Appeals.

Tell us what your goals are for the community if elected? We need to get back to business at the township. Kill all the drama and do what is best for the community. All the information needs to be transparent. Need to properly support Police and Fire departments, and finish funding to complete Creasy Park.

Christopher Estes: Did not respond to our questionnaire.

Jay Johnson: Did not respond to our questionnaire.