Castonia faces challenge by Kirkpatrick for county district 2 seat.

July 25, 2020

Castonia faces challenge by Kirkpatrick for county district 2 seat.


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. 

LUDINGTON — Two candidates are running for the Republican nomination for second district commissioner of the Mason County Board of Commissioners. The second district represents wards Four, Five and Six in the City of Ludington. Incumbent Gary Castonia (who was appointed to the position in 2017) is being challenged by Jason Kirkpatrick for the Republican nomination. There are no Democrat party candidates. 

MCP sent Castonia and Kirkpatrick questions and these are their responses: 

MCP: Why are you running for election/re-election on the Mason County for County Commission? 

Gary Castonia

Castonia: I am running for re-election because I love what I’m  doing. Being retired I have the time to put in and get the job done. I love to listen to the people of the city’s fourth, fifth and sixth wards because they are the ones who put me in as their county commissioner.

Kirkpatrick: I feel it is time for a change from the same old, same old to something new. New thoughts, new ideas, a view from a different perspective, and some out-of-the-box thinking for how to make positive changes to both Mason County and the people who live here.

MCP: What is the role of county commissioner? 

Kirkpatrick: The role of a county commissioner is an important one. Upholding the Constitution is first and foremost most important part of the role. A county commissioner should speak for the people in their district. The commissioner is the voice for the people, and his or her job is to support that voice – both loud and soft.

Besides that, the job duties include budgeting, appropriations of funds for the county activities, making ordinances and resolutions, support/implement mandates, and so forth.

Castonia: The role of a county commissioner is to work with the other commissioners and the county administrator to make sure things keep on working properly, policies are followed. We work on our committees and find solutions and then bring them back to the full board. The second district commissioner is put in to office by the residents of the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth wards of the City of Ludington. Those are the people I listen and represent.

MCP: Please talk about some of your background. 

Castonia: I am a life long resident of Ludington and graduated in 1966 from Ludington High School. I then entered the U.S. Army and spent three years serving our country. I spent one year in Vietnam in 1967-1968. 

I came home from the service and worked a year at Montgomery Ward and in 1970 was hired at the Ludington Police Department as a patrolman. During this time I was a detective for three years. After retiring from Ludington Police Department I worked at Ludington Mass Transit Authority for 18 years.

I was appointed to the Ludington Planning Commission in January 2003 to December 2005.  I then ran for the Ludington Sixth Ward City Council seat and served from January 2006 until July 2017 when I applied for the Second District Commissioner and was appointed to the seat.

I’m still pretty new to the board.  I was appointed in July 2017. Right now I am chairman of Public Safety and Courts Committee, on the Solid Waste Planning Committee and board member of Parks & Recreation Commission. On the Parks & Recreation Committee we just finished the installation of new a new playground at Consumers Park (Mason County Picnic Area)

Jason Kirkpatrick

Kirkpatrick: I’ve been a Ludington resident for most of my life. I grew up in a small family business environment and continue as a small business owner myself in our community.  I am a licensed builder, and have been in the construction industry for several years.  Along with that, I am a personal trainer and seasonal business owner of a business that provides family entertainment to the area.

(Kirkpatrick has been married for 21 years and has two children, both boys, in grade school.)

My educational background includes a criminal justice degree, and several certifications and licenses. I also served as a police officer in Walkerville for six years, and a probation liaison for Mason County’s juvenile court system for 1 ½ years. I’ve held other positions in security and management over the course of my working career as well.

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

Kirkpatrick: In the near future, I feel that there is an uphill battle to recovering from the economic impact of the current pandemic. Being so heavily reliant on tourism for revenues, our small seasonal businesses are suffering severely from the lack of incoming visitors this season. Even if they limp through the remainder of the season, they may not have enough resources to reopen for next year.

Castonia: The biggest challenge right now is courthouse security. As with anything else, where is the money going to come from?Getting a little bit of an idea of what security is like with the COVID screening.

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

Castonia: In the long term it always comes down to money. One big advantage we have is Fabian Knizacky as county administrator. He keeps us on the straight and narrow and pinches every penny. It will still be a challenge, but I would hate to go through the future without him.

Kirkpatrick: The biggest ongoing challenge I see for the long term has to do with the lack of year round jobs and business opportunities that provide more than just minimum wages or slim profit margins. It has a rippling effect on our community which then leads to financial hardships, mental health struggles, substance abuse problems, and homelessness.

MCP: Please add additional comments if you would like. 

Kirkpatrick: My goal as District 2 County Commissioner, is to help work through issues and challenges we face in Mason County, and continue to implement and improve the county’s master plan, while upholding the Constitution and the voice of my neighbors. I am an advocate for Christian conservative principles, research and reason, and objectivity.  I take a straight-forward, honest approach in all that I do, and that will be reflected in my role as commissioner if I am elected.

Castonia: I have the time that is needed for the job and yes it is a job. You don’t just meet once a month and say that is it. You have committee meeting and what ever meetings that come up. I have the experience and feel I’m the most qualified for the job..

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