Local candidates campaign before SGA, community
Students at Central Michigan University got to meet a candidate running for the 99th District of the Michigan House of Representatives, Democrat Bryan Mielke, at a forum Tuesday night in the Charles V. Park Library auditorium.
His Republican contender, Roger Hauck, never responded to Student Government Association requests that he attend or submit a short biography about himself.
Mielke was at an SGA forum put on by the Governmental Affairs Committee. It was designed to introduce students to the people behind the names on the local ballot. Ten candidates responded, ranging from those running for city commissioner, to county commissioners and register of deeds.
Mielke is a CMU alum and small business owner of DGC Inc., a software company that does energy analysis mostly in the oil and gas industry, monitoring pipelines.
"I was very apolitical most of my life," he said. "The way I gave back to my community was through my church—then in 2009 I was coerced by a friend to join my local planning commission and I was hooked. I fell in love with local government."
Now he serves on the Union Township Board of Trustees and is striving to become state representative of the 99th district, which includes Isabella County and most of Midland County.
"I decided I've got to go fix Lansing, because they don't represent the people anymore," Mielke said. "It is about money and special interest. Michigan is the worst state government in the union—we are 50th—last place in ethics and transparency laws."
Mielke said his "number one priority" is to create government reform. Other priorities include increasing state funding to schools, both k-12 and higher education, and creating jobs by ending tax breaks for corporations that take their jobs and operations out of Michigan.
The current County Clerk, Republican Minde B. Lux, has served in the position for on term, a total of four years. She attended the forum and answered questions given by SGA and students in the audience.
Her opponent, Democrat Chelsea Plevinski, did not attend.
Lux and her husband own a small business in Isabella County. She has been working for the Isabella County since 1994, and before she became County Clerk, she served five years in the Veteran's Affairs Department, then worked in the Registrar of Deeds Office.
"I thought I was very lucky because I did not have my bachelor's degree finished up yet," She said. "I loved it. I began watching all the other elected officials work, communicate and assist the community, and decided it was something I wanted to work towards."
Mount Pleasant City Commission
Will Joseph, Mayor Kathy Ling, and current City Commissioner Tony Kulick all attended the event in the library auditorium to introduce themselves and answer questions.
SGA asked why they were inspired to run for a position in local office.
Ling said she initially got involved over 45 years ago, after observing City Commission meetings on the behalf of the League of Women Voters. The commission was going to a reject a grant that would fund a small urban transportation system in Mount Pleasant for one year--a program that has evolved to include I-ride today.
"They thought if we start this it might be popular, the grant's going to go away, then we will have to come up with the money," Ling said. "That convinced me that if you watch what the government is doing, and people get together to speak up, you can make a difference."
The League of Women Voters had community members attended the next meeting to tell the commission they would like to accept the grant, and the millage has been passed on the ballot ever since.
Kulick said he first came to Mount Pleasant in 1988 to take the job as director of Planning Community and Development, until he retired eight years ago. He and his family have lived and grown up in Mount Pleasant since then. After retirement, he was "coerced" into serving on the Historic District Commission and Zoning board of Appeals.
Kulick said he is running for city commissioner again because he believes "It's important to give back to the community that's given me so much."
Joseph is a senior fishing up his last semester. He said he got involved originally through student government, moved on to the Academic Senate, recently was appointed to the Mount Peasant Planning Commission, and decided he wanted to continue public service when he graduates.
"What I hope to achieve in the city commission is to bring a different perspective that is lacking," Joseph said. "Students make up about half of the population in Mount Pleasant, and without a voice on the City Commission we really get overlooked, even if its not purposefully."
The City Commission operates under city management style voting, so Ling s not running to become mayor a second term She is running with Kulick and Joseph for City Commissioner, then every January the commissioners vote among themselves for who will be mayor.
The Discussion Forum by SGA
The Student Government Association put on this event, and had several other local candidates respond.
Those who attended included Karen Jackson, running for re-election in the Registrar of Deeds Office, and those running for County Commissioner positions. Candidates included Sarah Spencer-Noggle, running for District 4, Jim Horton, District 4, Jim Moreno, District 5 and Tobin Hope, District 7.
All ten of the attending candidates discussed their ideas on how to address the number of infractions on welcome weekend, and most answers included collaboration between the university, students, and city. Measures already being taken were praised, such as AlcoholEDU, local police knocking on doors to inform of city ordinances and diversion programs.
Other issues brought up were candidates stances on drug prevention verses incarceration and their belies on what are the most pressing social issues.