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Eight file for twp. board


Nominating petitions due by 4 p.m. May 15



Curtis
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Curtis (click for larger version)
May 09, 2012 - With less than a week to go before nominating petitions are due, three challengers joined five incumbents in filing for the Aug. 7 primary election during which all seven seats on the Oxford Township board will be up for grabs.

Longtime residents Jack Curtis, Charles Kniffen and Patti Durr are running for trustee positions as challengers.

Incumbents Supervisor Bill Dunn, Clerk Curtis Wright and Treasurer Joe Ferrari will each seek another four-year term as will incumbent trustees Sue Bellairs and Melvin (Buck) Cryderman. (More on the incumbents in next week's issue.)

All eight candidates filed as Republicans. Democrats typically do not file for township seats in this area, meaning whoever wins the primary usually wins the November general election as well.

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Nominating petitions are due by 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 15.

Petitions must contain at least 20, but no more than 50 valid signatures from registered township voters.

Curtis, Kniffen and Durr are all very familiar with township government.

Curtis has served on the planning commission for about eight years. He also serves on the gravel inspection committee, safety path committee and currently chairs the Economic Development Subcommittee (EDSC).

The EDSC is tasked with promoting Oxford, looking for new ways to boost the local economy and implementing changes to make the township more competitive and viable when it comes to attracting new businesses.

Curtis is running for township board because would like to see some of the concepts and projects formulated by the committees he serves on translated into action.

serves on the gravel inspection committee, safety path committee and currently chairs the Economic Development Subcommittee (EDSC).

The EDSC is tasked with promoting Oxford, looking for new ways to boost the local economy and implementing changes to make the township more competitive and viable when it comes to attracting new businesses.

Kniffen
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Kniffen (click for larger version)
Curtis is running for township board because he would like to see some of the concepts and projects formulated by the committees he serves on translated into action.

"We come up with a lot of good ideas, we move them up to the township board and they seem to lose interest," he said. "I want to see if I can spark some interest in moving forward."

"Bill Dunn and the township board have done a great job keeping us financially sound," Curtis noted. "In fact, they've got a surplus. Well, let's move forward and see if we can't grow our surplus by bringing in some responsible developments and (creating) some jobs for our high school students and graduates."

Curtis, who's lived on-and-off in Oxford for 36 years, is passionate about creating opportunities for young people to both live and work within the same community.

"We've got kids driving to (malls like) Lakeside and Great Lakes to get jobs," he said. "We're missing some opportunities to keep our kids in town, save money on gas and build up our property tax revenue."

Like any property owner, Curtis wishes to see the value of his home and land increase as well as those values around him.

"I figure if the property across the street from me is worth $6 million this year and it's worth $7 million next year, my (millage rates) may not have to go up," he said.

He also wants to see new development and new people come in to help share the tax burden and spread it around.

"There's a lot of people getting older around here," Curtis said. "If nobody (younger) moves into Oxford, you're going to see the tax base dwindle even more."

But Curtis wanted to make it clear he's not in favor of helter skelter development.

He believes it must be "planned, responsible and futuristic – businesses of the future, not of the past."

As a trustee, he indicated he'd work toward eliminating ordinances that are "useless or hindering" to new development. "I'm trying to make government easier for developers to work with," he said.

Patti_durr
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Durr (click for larger version)
In the end, Curtis indicated he just wants to ensure Oxford remains the type of place that kept him and his family coming back.

"It's a great community to grow kids," he said. "I've had four kids that graduated from the high school and they've all gone on to graduate from prestigious colleges – Air Force Academy, Michigan State, Kettering and Western Michigan."

Kniffen served as a trustee on the township board from 2000 until his defeat in the 2008 August primary.

He remains active in township government by serving on the Oxford Area Cable Communications Commission, which oversees the funding and operation of Oxford Community Television.

When asked why he decided to run again, Kniffen replied, "The last time I was in there I did pretty good. I built two fire stations and the township hall. I heard a couple guys were leaving, so I thought I could do the township some good again."

Kniffen was referring to the fact that Trustee Mike Spisz is not seeking re-election while rumor has it Trustee Joe Bunting isn't running either.

Spisz is running as a Republican for the District 3 seat on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners. Bunting could not be reached for comment.

"The biggest thing is I enjoy giving back to the community," said Kniffen, explaining the motivation behind his candidacy. "That's why I did it the last time. That's why I'm going to do it again."

Kniffen, who's lived in Oxford for 38 years, is anxious to get back into local government because of his concern that "the township and the state (have) too much control over people's lives."

"The ordinances (and laws) they're passing are becoming more restrictive (as to) what people can do," he said.

Although the trustee post is technically a part-time position – given they're only required to attend the regular monthly meeting along with any special and committee meetings – Kniffen pledged to devote a great deal of his time and energy to the job.

"I'm willing to (work) full time (for) the board," he said. "I'm not going to be one of those people who reads (their agenda packet) just before the meeting and votes. I do my own research."

Kniffen believes it's important for people to stay active and involved in their local government. It bothers him that most folks do not.

"People don't show up to the meetings until something happens that directly affects them," he said. "I'd like to see better participation from the residents of Oxford Township."

"I wish there was something we could do to get the younger generation more interested in politics," Kniffen added.

Outside of the cable commission, Kniffen continues to be involved in the community as a volunteer for the American Red Cross and as a member of Brotherhood Masonic Lodge on Oakwood Rd. in Brandon Township.

Durr is a former township employee who worked as an administrative assistant in the building department for 13 years. For the past four years, she's worked for the City of Lapeer as the office manager for its building department.

"I'm honest and I have a lot to offer the community," she said.

This isn't the first time Durr, who's lived in the township for 20 years, has sought public office. In 2004, she ran for the township clerk position and lost to then-incumbent Clara Sanderson by only 35 votes.

Eight years later, she's giving it another shot. "With two trustees stepping down, I figured I'd have a pretty good chance at being (elected to) the board and helping move the community forward," Durr said.

If elected, Durr would like to help the Oxford Fire Department and Oakland County Sheriff's Department obtain the things they need to effectively do their jobs.

She was pleased to see the 11.47-acre Promenade at Waterstone shopping center property (located on the east side of M-24, just south of Meijer) recently sold. As a trustee, she'd like to help "bring business there" and "get it up and running."

Durr is also a strong proponent of expanding the township's safety path system by seeking grants and other outside funding sources. "I enjoy using them," she said.

Although she's no longer employed by the township, Durr continues to serve as a poll worker on election days, something she's done for about 17 years.

She also does volunteer work with the Fisher Theatre in downtown Detroit.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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