PM township voters will make supervisor decision in November

July 21, 2023

PM township voters will make supervisor decision in November

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

PERE MARQUETTE TOWNSHIP — Pere Marquette Township Supervisor Jerry Bleau is being challenged for his job by township resident Kelly Smith. As a result of a recall petition, township voters will go to the polls on Nov. 7 to re-elect Bleau or chose a new supervisor. Township resident Tim Iteen led a recall petition campaign against Jerry Bleau and his wife, Karie Bleau, who is the township treasurer. Both recall petitions cite water and sewer billing errors that allegedly cost the township thousands of dollars. 

The township supervisor position is a full time position that pays over $62,000 per year (plus an additional $4,000 for building official duties). 

MCP reached out to both candidates to discuss why they want to be Pere Marquette Township supervisor. 

MCP: Please talk about why you want to be Pere Marquette Township supervisor. 

Jerry Bleau

Bleau: Public service is a very rewarding endeavor for me, it brings me great pleasure to help people on a daily basis. That is why I want to remain the Charter Township of Pere Marquette supervisor. I am dedicated, honest and loyal to the people I serve and lead. I will continue to hold myself and the people around me accountable. I will continue to be fiscally responsible. I will continue to work very hard for the people. Being the supervisor and the building official of this great Township is an honer and a privilege, and I thank the citizens of the Township that have supported me on this great journey.

Smith: The residents of Pere Marquette Township have made it clear they want a recall election. This was evident by the overwhelming number of folks who were eager to sign petitions putting this matter to a vote of the people. I feel our residents deserve a choice in candidates. As the former parks and rec. manager at Pere Marquette Township for nearly nine years, I know this would be a great way for me to once again serve the residents.

MCP: What is your background/experience in government/management? 

Kelly Smith

Smith: My almost nine years of employment with Pere Marquette Charter Township has given me great insight into the day-to-day operations of the supervisor’s office. I have worked closely with past supervisors, not only as the manager of the parks and rec. department, but also in the zoning department and as the chair of the board of review for Pere Marquette Township for several years. As an elected official, it would be an honor to represent the residents of Pere Marquette Township. I would make sure to listen to the people and act in their best interest. Having lived in the township for nearly half my life, I have a good sense of what this community wants and needs.

When I was hired by the township in 2013, I began a process to acquire both land and grant funding for PM Township Conservation Park. I worked with Dow Chemical, Occidental Chemical, and state and federal agencies, as we came up with a plan to transfer ownership of 300 acres of Dow property to the township. I have spent considerable hours meeting with stakeholders, engineers and consultants in this process, and the township was able to secure over $800,000 in grant funding to purchase the park. I would like to dive back into this process and see the conservation park plan come to fruition.

I have worked with JMB Associates to secure new playground equipment for Buttersville Campground, and that project was dedicated in 2018. I also worked on funding for the Master Plan for the PM Conservation Park and the Community Foundation for Mason County grant for upgrades to the old AC Park.

Bleau: I have worked very hard over the years to continue to learn and grow, the list is a product of hard work and dedication to learning.

Licensed building official, building inspector, and plan reviewer, since 2009.

Licensed residential builder for over 20 Years.

State certified firefighter I & II, 2015.

State certified hazardous material first responder – operations, 2015

State certified S-2 water operator and D-3 limited treatment certification.

Michigan State University zoning administrator certificate, 2019.

Michigan State University master citizen planner certificate, 2019

FEMA, National Incident Management System, IS-100.b, IS-200.b, IS-700.a, IS-800.b.

Northern Michigan Code Official Association board member, 2018.

Approximately 832 hours of continuing education as a building official, building inspector and plan reviewer. 

Mason County Department of Public Works board, vice chair.

Mason County Western Fire District, secretary treasurer.

Mason County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, secretary.

Last four years as the Pere Marquette Charter Township supervisor and the building official, serving both positions for one salary. 

MCP: Please talk about your family, spouse, children.

Bleau: I am the youngest of nine children, four sisters and four brothers. My second oldest sister passed away as a baby. I am married to my beautiful and smart wife Karie, I am the stepfather to her two wonderful children, one daughter and one son. We have three healthy and magical grandchildren. I was raised to always respect and cherish family, and my family means everything to me. 

Smith: My wife Kristen and I have called Pere Marquette Township home for 20 years and have raised our three children here. Kristen is the director of communications/chamber programming for the Chamber Alliance of Mason County. Our oldest child is working on his doctoral degree at Indiana University, our middle child just finished her first year of college and is the current Miss Ludington Area title holder, and our youngest will be starting his senior year at LHS this fall.

MCP: Please talk about your term as PM Township (question for Bleau).

Bleau: I am proud of the work that the team has accomplished during my first term as supervisor. 

Parks Department – Closing on the Dow property, new playground equipment at Memorial Tree Park, paved parking lot at Buttersville beach, the start of the new Pere Marquette River Community Access Park, keeping the parks open year-round, updating the parks ordinance and maintaining a strong relationship with the township’s planning consultant Jim Bernier, JMB associates, hiring a campground manager for Buttersville Campground, implementing changes that increase revenue and give new campers the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful campground.

Building and Zoning- Enforcing the township’s ordinances and the state building code is a necessary function, and I am proud to work with Kristin Lange, the township zoning administrator and Tom Fulker the township’s contracted building inspector. As the building official I oversee these two amazing and dedicated people, and the Building and Zoning Department. In the past few years, the township has seen enormous growth with new construction values in the tens of millions in Industrial, commercial and residential. As for the code enforcement Kristin and I have been working very hard to get blighted properties cleaned up in the township. The two notable enforcements are the old Pallet Recycle site and the old junk yard on Pere Marquette Highway. The Building and Zoning Department at the township is committed to customer service and consistency for the citizens that we serve. We will continue to work hard to keep the people and property safe and clean in the township.

Assessing Department- The township has a full time assessor, Derek Eaton. Working with Derek is an absolute pleasure. He maintains the assessment roll and continues to serve the people of the Township with professionalism and dedication. As the supervisor, I assure the citizens that the townships assessor is a true public servant and is dedicated to his profession.

DPW, Water & Sewer Department- I am proud to announce the installation of a standby generator at the township’s main sewer lift station. We have implemented free residential brush pick up since I became supervisor, purchased a new leaf vacuum to increase efficiency and safety during the spring and fall leaf season. Giving the training and the tools for the township’s employees is the best way to ensure the people of the township will enjoy the services they deserve.

Fire Department- I am very proud and honored to work with Chief (Larry) Gaylord and his team of officers, firefighters, and medical first responders.

I meet with the chief on a regular, sometimes daily basis to be sure he has everything he needs to serve and protect the citizens of the township. I cannot express the amount of respect I have for Chief Gaylord; I have never seen an individual give so much to his community and ask for so little. Chief Gaylord and the PM fire team have accomplished more than anyone can understand during the pandemic, and I can only say I support them one hundred percent.


MCP: Please talk about some of the changes you would like to implement in the PM Township supervisor’s office (question for Smith).

Smith: If elected as supervisor, I would work hard to restore trust with both the employees and the residents of the township. In the past 18 months the township had seven employees quit or resign, most of whom cited a toxic work environment. This is unacceptable. The township needs to be a place where we are able to retain good employees. I feel my past experience with overseeing multiple employees within the parks department will enable me to handle the role as the township’s human resource director.

I would do my best to get spending under control. The annual budget has grown approximately 30% since 2019. I would also work toward hiring department heads in both the DPW/Water Sewer and Parks and Rec. departments, which have been struggling along without those leadership positions since 2022.

MCP: What do you think is the role/responsibility of an elected official?

Bleau: Elected officials are nothing more than public servants, as an elected official, I work for the people! That is the main role and responsibility for me. but there are so many more roles and responsibilities that come with the job. Leader, problem solver, listener, mediator, communicator, negotiator, planner, innovator, collaborator to name a few. I take my job as an elected public servant very seriously and I appreciate the opportunity to serve.

Smith: I feel my rapport with both the township board and staff will allow me to lead Pere Marquette Township into a better future.

This story and original photography are copyrighted © 2023, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

As the services of Media Group 31, LLC are news services, the information posted within the sites are archivable for public record and historical posterity. For this reason it is the policy and practice of this company to not delete postings. It is the editor’s discretion to update or edit a story when/if new information becomes available. This may be done by editing the posted story or posting a new “follow-up” story. Media Group 31, LLC or any of its agents have the right to make any changes to this policy. Refer to Use Policy for more information.

Please consider helping to fund local news. Mason County Press and Oceana County Press are available for free thanks to the generous support of our advertisers and individuals. Three ways to help us: Venmo: @MasonCountyPress; Paypal:; Mail a check to PO BOX 21, Scottville, MI 49454.

Area Churches