Turbines and compensation top of discussion for commissioners at forum

July 31, 2012

LUDINGTON – Wind turbines and commissioner compensation were the dominant topics of discussion Tuesday night for county commissioner candidates. All but one of the candidates running for county commission attended a candidates’ forum at Ludington City Park.

Commissioner Rich Morong, who is running for District 6, did not attend Tuesday’s forum, nor did he attend last week’s forum sponsored by MasonCountyPress.com and WMOM FM 102.7. This was a big disadvantage for Mr. Morong considering two weeks in a row his opponent knocked her campaign speech out of the ballpark, receiving thunderous applause from the audience at both events.

Janet Anderson is a sixth generation Mason County resident. She spoke about returning the commission back to the people and she spoke about the compensation the candidates receive.

“I believe the compensation package is extreme,” she said about the $11,200 compensation package the commissioners recently voted to accept, instead of receiving full health benefits, along with a stipend, for their service. “The residents in this county work hard and they do not enjoy the benefits the commissioners receive. If you are in this for the money than you are in it for the wrong reason.”

As of Jan 1, 2013 District 6 will cover Victory, Sherman, Free Soil, Meade and northern Sheridan townships.

Anderson wasn’t the only candidate who thinks the compensation is too high.

“I think this is a part time job,” District 1 candidate Susan Boes said. Boes is currently a county commissioner.

“I did some logging of my hours and even during all the wind turbine meetings I attended at the end of the month, I put in 36 hours. That is not a full time job.”

Boes said she believes $7,000 a year is a fair compensation for commissioners.

Her opponent, Joe Lenius, disagreed.

“Anytime I am here and at meetings I have to have someone at my hotel desk, so it’s costing me money (Lenius owns Nader’s Motel in Ludington). This present board is made up of business people and I think they provide a good value for the county.”

District 1 is the northern part of the City of Ludington.

District 5 candidate Mary Nichols said since being elected to the commission she has been a supporter of eliminating the commissioners’ benefit package.

“When I found out about that package I was enraged and thought it was wrong,” she said.

Nichols also spoke about the county’s haste to allow the building of wind turbines in Riverton Township, which along with Summit Township, the City of Scottville and part of Pere Marquette Township make up District 5.

Nichols said the county disregarded Riverton Township’s land use map when it discussed wind turbines. She said setbacks for turbines in Mason County, just over 900 feet, do not equal the manufacturer’s recommended setbacks of 1,320 feet.

“I favored hiring a consultant to review the issue. I was outvoted,” she said.

While Nichols was speaking, Consumers Energy representative Dennis Marvin appeared to be texting someone on his phone. When she began Nichols acknowledged Consumers had sent a representative to the forum.

Several of the other candidates agreed that the Lake Winds wind turbine farm was not the right move for Mason County.

“My position on wind turbines is that we have gone too far,” said Hank Wykretowitz, who is running for District 3 commissioner, representing Hamlin and Grant townships.

His opponent, incumbent Chuck Lange said he was against a moratorium on wind turbines.

“We made the right decision. It’s going to be good for the county in the long run,” Lange said.

 

Here is a list of the county commissioner candidates:

District 1: Joe Lenius, Susan Boes

District 2: Bill Carpenter, Michael Schneider

District 3: Chuck Lange, Hank Wykretowicz

District 4: Dr. Lewis Squires, Curt Vanderwall

District 5: Mary Nichols, Dale White

District 6: Janet Anderson, Rich Morong

District 7: Tom Posma, Floyd Kaminski, Aldon Maleckas

 

Story and photos by Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

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