VanDyke faces challenge from Stickney for Eden Township clerk.

July 26, 2020

Julie VanDyke

 VanDyke faces challenge from Stickney for Eden Township clerk.

#Election2020

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

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. 

Stickney did not furnish a photograph.

EDEN TOWNSHIP — Republican Julie VanDyke has served as clerk for Eden Township since November 2016, replacing the previous clerk who retired after over 20 years of service. She is being challenged by Republican Duane Stickney. There are no Democrat party candidates. 

MCP asked the two candidates the following questions:

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

VanDyke: I took on the Eden Township Clerk position in November 2016 when our former clerk decided it was time to retire after working in the position for 20-plus years.  I have grown to enjoy the role, especially because of the help of our new Ddeputy Clerk Amanda Mast.  We have streamlined the job responsibilities, adding accountability, accuracy and efficiency with the use of QuickBooks, OneDrive and the electronic election equipment provided by the State of Michigan back in 2017.  We have also implemented bi-monthly board meetings which have provided a more efficient use of our board members time.  I am looking forward to my re-election as Clerk and another four years of serving the residents of Eden Township.

Stickney: I’m running for township clerk, because I feel that our township clerk’s office needs to be a better steward of our township dollars. I feel very strongly that the funds collected from taxpayers should be spent so they benefit the township, as a whole, not for the benefit of a single individual or to make things more convenient for the township board. This mindset has definitely not be used over the last four years, seeing that the clerk’s salary has been raised by $1,000 a year and accounting software was put in place which is costing the township $1,200 per year.

MCP: What is the role of the township clerk? 

Stickney: The clerk has many responsibilities, many of which I’ve not listed here. Some of the major responsibilities are that the clerk maintains the township’s general ledger, records and maintains meeting minutes, is responsible for developing and distributing meeting agendas and action item information. The clerk maintains, and has custody of all township records. The clerk keeps voter registration files, conducts elections and ensures that all election workers are properly trained. The clerk is one of the key township board contacts for the township’s residents.

VanDyke: A township clerk plays a critical role in the operation and administration of township government.  Michigan law requires the township clerk to carry out three major responsibilities involving township: record keeping, financial operations and elections.  The clerk is also a member of the township board with a vote equal to the other members, voting on questions of budget, personnel appointments, zoning and all other matters that come before the township board.

MCP: Please talk about some of your background. 

VanDyke: I have lived in Mason County full-time for nearly 13 years, and have felt like home in this community since 2003 when we were simply weekenders/cottage owners on Lost/Pleiness Lake.  When our girls were ages 5 and 7, we decided to move to Mason County full-time and establish careers, and a permanent home on Lost Lake.  Now Emily is almost 20 and Gracie is 18 and we feel like we have lived here forever.  Dann and I have been married nearly 22 years – time sure flies when you’re having fun!

My husband Dann started our business Cottage Works Corporation after he was downsized from his mechanical engineering position in 2009.  The economy was not well in ‘09 and it was a scary time.  Now that we are in our 11th year in business, I can say we made it!  We both work full-time in our business, along with 13 other full-time employees, and we are blessed by a wonderful collection of customers, both cottage owners and full-time residents in our community.  We started another business, Foam Works, LLC in 2017 that employs five full-time crew members.  I believe that our many years of work experience in engineering, management, marketing, entrepreneurship training, and our educational backgrounds in mechanical engineering (Dann) and master of business administration (Julie) have enabled us to be successful business leaders of two thriving businesses in Mason County.

Our family loves dogs and we have a beautiful Chocolate Lab named Mocha.  She is 4-years-old and helps keep us very active demanding daily walks and bike rides around the lake. We truly enjoy life on the lake in all seasons, and believe Eden Township has been a wonderful place to raise our children and live the quality life we always dreamed of.  We live in our dream home on Lost Lake that we have renovated over the past several years by adding an attached garage with bonus master suite, and a big barn as Dann’s own space.

Both of our daughters attend West Shore Community College where Emily is a nursing student going into her junior year, and Gracie will be a freshman this fall.  Emily works at Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital as a phlebotomist, has a weekend CNA (certified nursing assistant) job and is a full-time nanny at Epworth each summer.  Gracie also works as a nanny at Epworth each summer and works part-time at the Ludington Municipal Marina where we keep our big lake fishing boat.  She and her co-workers consider our boat their personal break room and we think its fun to hang out with teenagers once in a while, they hopefully keep us young.

In my spare time, I work part-time as the KickStart to Career Coordinator for the Community Foundation for Mason County setting up and promoting Children’s Savings Accounts for each kindergarten student entering school each fall at the five elementary schools in Mason County.  This is a very rewarding position as I am part of an important initiative to establish and encourage continued deposits into these savings accounts to be used toward post-secondary education (college, trade school, etc.) at the end of each child’s high school career.

Stickney: I have lived in Eden Township most of my life, graduating from Mason County Eastern and Ferris State College. I have an engineering/IT background, having spent a number of years working at Harsco Rail (Ludington) and Steelcase (Grand Rapids) as a design engineer, PLM project manager and IT manager, along with various other positions.  I am a small business owner, so I am well versed in the attention to detail and organizational skills required for small enterprises to succeed.  I have served on the Mason County Eastern school board and have served as Eden Township trustee for the last four years.

(Stickney and his wife, Suzanne, have five children). 

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

Stickney: In the near future, one of the biggest challenges is to continue to navigate our way through the ever changing challenges, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. I anticipate that one of the by-products of the pandemic is going to be a significant reduction in funding, received from the State of Michigan.

VanDyke: Road maintenance continues to be a challenge in Eden Township, especially with a decrease in state revenue sharing.  With 34-plus miles of gravel road in our township, we struggle to meet the financial challenge to partner with the Mason County Road Commission to apply brine and our required maintenance of our roads to meet the level of expectations of our residents.

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

VanDyke: Our largest challenge will continue to be road maintenance and maintain the current level of service for our residents.

Stickney: As mentioned above, I feel that the negative financial repercussions of the pandemic are going to be felt for many years into the future. This is especially troubling for smaller townships, such as ours, as the costs we incur for road maintenance, road brining and elections continues to rise every year.  If current trends continue, our township may not be able to continue the road maintenance program we have done in the past.

MCP: Please add additional comments if you would like? 

Stickney: Over the last four years, I have served the township voters as a trustee, representing them and the township’s best interests. I firmly believe in the mindset that I work for them, not for the township board itself.  I would like the voters of our township to know that if they elect me as township clerk, I will continue to use that approach as I perform the clerk’s duties.

VanDyke: I am proud to report that the Eden Township board has worked within our budget these past four years, and I as clerk have never spent more than the allotted budget for clerk expenses approved all four years by the full board.   We have streamlined our responsibilities, adding accountability, accuracy and efficiency to use our tax payers dollars wisely and within our budget.

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