Candidate profiles for Lenawee County Commission

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(Editor’s note: The following candidate profiles were based on answers to a questionnaire from the Tecumseh Herald.)

DAVID STIMPSON

David Stimpson (R) is the current District 1 Lenawee County Commissioner (City of Tecumseh and Tecumseh Township), a position that he has occupied for eight years. He has resided in the Tecumseh area since 2000, has two children in Tecumseh Public Schools, and owns a small business in downtown Tecumseh.

Stimpson earned his juris doctorate (law degree) from the University of Toledo and his bachelor of science degree from Eastern Michigan from Eastern Michigan University. His Tecumseh business is Stimpson and Associates, P.C., and he regularly participates on a pro bono basis (charging no fee) with Legal Services of South Central Michigan.

He is active in many organizations in Lenawee County, including chairman of the board for the Lenawee, Hillsdale, and Jackson County Community Action Agency, past president of the Tecumseh Kiwanis Club, past chairman of the Michigan Association of Counties Human Service Committee, and a member of the State of Michigan Out-of-State Placement Taskforce. In the course of his community service, he has been asked to testify before the Michigan Senate.

Stimpson also regularly donates time to ProMedica Herrick Hospital, the Humane Society, United Way, and Tecumseh Public Schools. This summer, he, along with the Tecumseh Acres PTO and various foundations, assisted in construction of new playground equipment for the elementary school after a $40,000 fundraising effort. In the past he has assisted in the development of the free medical clinic collaboration between ProMedica Bixby Hospital and Community Action Agency, resulting in the establishment of Federal Qualified Medical Clinic, which serves patients who do not have medical insurance.

He has been a member of the Lenawee County Library Board, Tecumseh Downtown Development Authority, Lenawee Economic Development Corporation and participated in the creation of the Lenawee County Land Bank, Lenawee County Brownfield Authority, and other national, state, and local organizations during his career.

“Economic development has been a priority of mine since taking office,” Stimpson said. “With the assistance of the Economic Development Corporation and the Lenawee County Business Revolving Loan Fund, we have stimulated small business growth and redevelopment in our community. In recent years, we have seen large capital investments by Wacker Chemical and Lenawee Stamping [now Van Robb Tecumseh] increasing the workforce in Lenawee County.

“We have also seen smaller projects to existing and new companies to pay for environmental cleanup assessments costs to rehabilitate existing facilities and provide for expansions. These efforts have led to new business startups and increased hiring from new and existing companies.

“I believe I have a very good understanding of the residents of the Tecumseh area from multiple points of view and am able to navigate these points of view to do what is best for the citizens of the county and the Tecumseh area.”

Stimpson is active with in many areas of the state’s juvenile justice system through his participation in the Lenawee County and the Michigan Association of Counties. “As a county commissioner, I have grappled with the funding and policy concerns associated with the management and costs of the juvenile justice system,” he said. “I believe I have a very good understanding of the juvenile justice system from multiple points of view.”

Stimpson currently serves as vice chair of the Lenawee County Commission, chairman of the Criminal Justice Committee, is a member of the Lenawee County Library Board, Lenawee County Hospital Finance Authority, Personal Committee, Ways and Means, Rules and Appointments, Labor Negotiations, Local Development Finance Authority, and other ad hoc appointments.

“On a regular basis, I oversee the county budget as it relates to the county’s largest budgets,” he said, “such as the sheriff department; prosecuting attorney’s office; district, circuit, and probate courts; friend of the court; Maurice Spears Campus; emergency services department; and the medical examiner office.”

GAYLE KEISER

Gayle Keiser (D), of Tecumseh, is challenging David Stimpson (R) for the District 1 Lenawee County Commission seat that he has occupied for four consecutive two-year terms. District 1 includes the City of Tecumseh and Tecumseh Township. She was recently elected as a trustee for the Tecumseh District Library.

Keiser is currently employed as adjunct faculty at Siena Heights University teaching public policy, politics, and ethics in the graduate leadership program there. Formerly, she was a business owner/manager for over 12 years in retail for the American Artcraft store and custom framing service. She also has experience in nonprofit leadership, most recently as executive director of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance (five years) working with farmers in sustainable agriculture.

Keiser holds a bachelor of arts degree from Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, N.Y; graduate degrees in political science and public administration from the University of Missouri-Columbia and University of Oregon, Eugene.

Other political experience includes terms on the Knox County Board of Commissioners (12 years) in Galesburg, Ill., to which she was first elected in 1990. Her hometown is Fremont, Ohio, but she has been a Tecumseh resident since 2009.

“I will work to restore public confidence in the Lenawee County Commission and give our citizens greater influence over its decisions,” Keiser said. “Citizens deserve ethical, cost-efficient, common-sense leadership, rather than the endless debates and flip-flopping decisions that have marred the image of the current commission and its leadership.

“The commission must take the lead in job creation and promotion of local businesses to rebuild the local tax base. As a former business owner, I understand what it takes to encourage existing businesses to grow and to bring new enterprises into Lenawee County.

“In these tough economic times, I have the professional skills to meet the challenge of providing vital county services, with a priority on public safety, in a cost-effective and responsible manner, while also maintaining essential programs for our most vulnerable neighbors—children and seniors.

“Current commissioners bury themselves in the details and daily operations of county departments, rather than focusing on the big picture of setting budgets in keeping with community priorities.

“Citizens are entitled to transparency in their county government. The current commission operates more like a private club than a public body accountable to citizens for the process and purpose of its actions. I will insist that county business is conducted in accordance with the Open Meetings Act—the vital link between elected officials and the public they serve.

“The commission needs to reinstate night meetings to encourage public participation. Citizens have a right to watch their government in action and participate in the process. Night meetings give opportunities for more residents to participate in their government. I will always be open and accessible to residents of the Tecumseh area and encourage their involvement in shaping decisions on issues of interest to them.”

CHRIS WITTENBACH

Chris Wittenbach is the Republican incumbent for District 9 Lenawee County Commissioner seat in the Nov. 6 election. The district includes Adrian Township Precinct 1, Clinton Township, Franklin Township, and Macon Township. He is married to Gail, and the couple has two grown children, Eric and Lesli, and four grandchildren.

Wittenbach moved to the village of Clinton in 1975 from Ionia to pursue a career in education. He taught social studies and physical education for over 30 years at Clinton High School. While teaching, he served as a coach in four different high school sports, most notably as the Clinton Varsity Wrestling Coach for over 30 years. As a leader in the school he assisted other school employees as a five-time Clinton Education Association president.

Following a successful career in education Wittenbach began his political career as the Clinton Township Supervisor, a position he held for six years. During that time he became Chairman of the Clinton Township planning committee. Most recently Wittenbach is finishing up his first term as a Lenawee County Commissio-ner.

He is currently the chair of the Lenawee County IT committee as well as a member of several other county committees.

As commissioner he served as chairman of the Information and Equalization Committee, Vice-Chair of the Agriculture Committee, and member of the Human Resources Committee. He is also a member of the Region 2 Planning Committee and the Region 2 Department of Aging Committee.

Wittenbach is pleased with the accomplishments the commissioners achieved during his term, including a balanced budget in 2011. The revenue over expenses of $280,000 will offset 2012 expenses, which Wittenbach said will benefit the sheriff’s department. He believes the Honeywell Project energy savings will save the county $1.3 million. Wittenbach said the technology upgrade will improve effectiveness and efficiency and may bring in savings. Transparency of government was achieved with the county newsletter, and the Farm-to-School program brought fresh foods to schools. Wittenbach said his voting record shows he consistently supported requests made by the sheriff’s department.

Wittenbach holds membership in the Salvation Army Board, Human Resource Committee, LEDC Committee, Region II Planning Executive Committee, Region II Department of Aging, and Road Commission Liaison.

Wittenbach made the following comments: “My belief is that county government should be run as efficiently, effectively, and responsibly as possible. It is the responsibility of county government to use taxpayer money in a manner in which best serves the county, and works to stay within the budget. My goal as commissioner has been to make Lenawee County government stronger, more effective, more efficient, and more responsible.”

TODD M. MORGAN

Todd M. Morgan is the Democratic challenger for the District 9 County Commissioner seat. Morgan has been married to his wife, Melissa, for more than 14 years. The couple has four children in their blended family, Nicolas, Jamie, Scott, and Tessa, as well as a granddaughter.

Morgan is a member of the Clinton American Legion, the Clinton United Methodist Church, and has been a supporter of his children over the years in their activities in the Clinton Community Schools.

After graduation from high school in Alpena, Morgan joined the navy as a nuclear machinist mate. After leaving the Navy, Morgan, a single parent, also served as a Naval reservist.

After the Navy, Morgan earned his associates degree in criminal justice. He then earned his Bachelor’s degree in 2000, his MBA in 2004, and his law degree in 2010. After passing the bar, Morgan then opened his own law firm, The Law Office of Todd M. Morgan, PLLC based in Adrian. Before beginning his law practice, Morgan worked as a forensic security aide at a mental health hospital prison, and as a financial analyst for Michigan Rehabilitation Services.

Morgan has lived in the Village of Clinton for 13 years. He believes he has always lived a life of service. First to his country while serving in the Navy, then to Michigan as a forensic security aide and financial analyst, next to his community as Clinton Village Council member, to his clients as an attorney, and to his family as a husband and father.

Morgan said his top priorities as a County Commissioner would be to make the Commission much more transparent in its work and to help make Lenawee County a business-friendly environment.

He commented: “I do believe that Lenawee needs to set priorities and act based on that commitment.”




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