Lange, Hartley running for county commission third district seat.

July 24, 2020

Lange, Hartley running for county commission third district seat.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

#Election2020

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Primary Election takes place on Aug. 4. During the election, nominations are made from both the Republican and Democrat parties to decide who each respective party’s candidate will be in the November General Election. These profiles will feature the candidates who are running in contested races. 

The third district of the Mason County Boardof Commissioners represents Hamlin and Grant townships. Two Republicans are running for the seat, meaning the Primary Election will decide who takes the seat for the next four years, unless a write-in candidate chooses to run in the November election. 

Jody Hartley is challenging incumbent Chuck Lange for the seat. 

MCP: Why are you running for election/re-election?

Chuck Lange

Lange: I am running for re-election to continue the work of making Mason County one of the best places in western Michigan to live. It is an honor to represent the people of Hamlin and Grant Townships District Three and all of Mason County.  

Hartley: I am running for county commissioner in District Three because I can provide much needed leadership and vision for the district and the people of Mason County.  I believe the chair that I sit in as a commissioner does not belong to me, it belongs to “We the People”.  We cannot forget who we are serving. 

MCP: What is the role of a county commissioner? 

Hartley: The role of a county commissioner is to represent the people of his district at the local level.  He/she needs to be a leader, not just a “bean counter”.  Yes, commissioners have fiscal responsibilities, for sure, but it is much more than that.  They need to be visionaries, to see as far into the future as possible and plan ahead.  They need to provide order, opportunity and protection for their community.  Just the opposite of what we saw in Seattle.  It was the city mayor and councilors (same as a commissioner) that allowed that to happen.  They are now considering a 50% reduction in the funding of the police department.  That is one of the things a commissioner can do, is defund the police.  I believe just the opposite; we need to prioritize police funding and training. 

Lange: The role of a county commissioner is to set policies that deal with county budget, appropriations, personnel, capital improvements, county services and other issues.  Working with the county administrator to ensure that the county is providing the proper services for our constituents is one of the many important things we do. We also work with residents regarding the concern or ideas they may have. Being elected as the county chair for five years by my fellow commissioners is one of the things that I hold dear to my heart. It showed that they had faith in my leadership and direction that the County board wanted to follow. The Veterans Affairs Officer is one of the more recent accomplishments that the board approved.  We also worked to approve the creation of the Mason County Promise Zone.

MCP: Please talk about some of your background.

Lange:  I have 12 years on the county board. Prior to that, I served as a volunteer firefighter in Hamlin Township for 10 years, a member of the Mason County Planning Commission for six years. I have also served on other various committees including 911 and District #10 Health department.

Jody Hartley

Hartley: I am 61-years-old, married to my beautiful wife Linda for 41 years, many know her from Safe Harbor Credit Union.  We worked together for eight years as missionaries and I retired from the Mason County Sheriff’s Office two years ago after serving a total of 32 years there.  I worked in every aspect of the sheriff’s office: dispatch, corrections, road patrol, road patrol sergeant, detective, three years undercover narcotics officer, 17 years on SERT (Sheriffs Emergency Response Team, 15 years cross training as a sniper. My last five and half years were served as the undersheriff serving with Sheriff Kim Cole.

I understand how the county works.  I know the policy and procedures of the Sheriff’s Office because I spent five years rewriting them.  I know both union contracts inside and out and I understand how the pensions and the insurance works for the county.  I have been on and participated in many of the boards that involve the county commission.  As a result, I can be productive on day one.

MCP: What do you see as one of the county’s biggest challenges in the near future? 

Hartley: Getting the board to be proactive leaders.  We have a segment in our society that affects us all.  People with addictions; 75% of crime is related to substance abuse and it is a very costly disease in our community.  We need a different approach to dealing with addictions.  What we are doing is not working, it is getting worse.  I would like to see a drug court for those who are charged with a crime related to substance abuse, be it drugs or alcohol.  Give the person a chance to change and have the charge go away.  Instead of incarceration; mentoring and accountability.  In addition I would like to see mentoring opportunities from our faith-based communities where we can help and come alongside someone before they get charged with a crime, get someone hurt or killed, lose a job or their family.

Lange: One of the challenges before the board right now is courthouse security. We are working with Chief Judge Jeffrey Nellis and all department heads to address this issue. The guidelines for this come from the State Court Administrative Office. With the Covid-19, we are getting a little insight as to how that could work by having someone at a single point of entry. We continue to have meetings to meet these guidelines.

MCP: What do you see as one of the county’s biggest challenges in the long term future? 

Lange: A long term issue that I see is the subject of countywide zoning. Mason County covers zoning for townships that don’t have their own zoning department. The problem I see is that one size does not fit all. I don’t want the county to be thought of as hindering business. Hopefully this is something that can be addressed in the future.

Hartley: I think keeping services or prioritizing services if we have a serious economic downturn.  I would like us to develop short term and long-term solutions for helping those with mental health issues.  Right now, there is a shortage of beds for those in crisis and those who have long term issues with mental health, so often they end up in jail.  They do not belong in jail; they are not criminals.  It should not be a crime to have mental health problems.  It is very detrimental to their state of mind to be in jail and it is a burden on our system.  It cost money either way, why not do it right?

MCP: Please provide us background on your personal life: 

Hartley: Linda and I have been married 41 years.  We do most things together, we often mentor together.  We also do one on one mentoring on a weekly basis.  I have an adult son, who lives and works in Manistee. He is married, and they have three children.  Linda and I love spending time with our grandkids.  I am currently teaching them how to shoot.  The boys are 10 year-old twins and my granddaughter is 8 ½, cannot forget the half.  I like to ride bikes, hunt, read and I am a video gamer too.  I am passionately involved in my church.  We lead community groups; I am on our leadership team and I am head of our church security.  I also teach church security for all the churches in Mason County with Sheriff Kim Cole.  We try to do this quarterly.

Lange: I am married to my wife Linda for 44 years. I have one daughter, Rebecca. I previously worked for Harsco for 23 years before starting a machining and fabrication shop, CL Enterprises LLC. I also own a home rental business, LBC Properties LLC. In addition to my current line of work, I was a machine and tool lab instructor at West Shore Community College for seven years. 

MCP: Please add additional comments if you would like? 

Hartley: I am used to handling and balancing budgets; either at the sheriff’s office, as a missionary or on a church board.

The day and age we are in now is becoming more and more challenging by the day.  This is why we need strong leadership, beginning at the local level.  Leadership you can rely on.  Leadership that will connect with you, listen to you, be honest with you and represent you.

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