July 11, 2012 - Although Jeff Decker hasn't always had success against incumbents in the past, he's challenging Clerk Barb Pallotta in the Aug. 7 primary because he thinks the Township board needs change.
"The best way the board could improve is to drop out of the race completely and start new," he said.
From Decker's point of view, "a fresh start" is needed because the board isn't listening to the public.
"It is time for that to change. You are the representative of the people; that's the entire job," he said. "I think it is important to hear what everyone is saying."
Decker believes his close relationship as a longtime member of the community will allow him to represent the citizens best.
"More than anything, I'm from, by, and in this area, and I understand our concerns and the people in this area very well," he said.
Although Clerk Pallotta refers to her experience as an important strength, Decker points out her experience was developed "out of the area."
Decker is a realtor from Wilhelm and Associates and has been involved in the Clarkston school district for about 23 years until his daughter graduated. As a teenager, Decker played the drums and sang in a band that performed at Renaissance High School. He says he still sings sometimes and hopes his voice will be heard if elected.
Decker believes members of the board "can't talk to each other," which keeps them from accomplishing tasks. He points to meetings, which have continued until 1 a.m., as evidence of the board's poor communication.
"I want to get things done. When there's so much chatter, nothing gets done. It is just talk," Decker said.
Some of the things Decker would like to get done if he's elected include getting "the budget trimmed back down to what it should be" and bringing the McLaren hospital to Independence Township.
Decker is skeptical of Pallotta's decision to change the polling places of each district from schools to churches and the library.
"You get used to a certain way," Decker said. "There's going to be a lot of confusion."
Besides voters being uncertain about where they will cast their ballots, Decker also said, "I wonder now if kids are going to miss out," because having polling in the schools "helps people learn about elections and the process." This perspective comes from Decker's personal experience.
On his 18th birthday, Decker registered to vote and intends to continue being involved in local politics for a long time.
"This is not my one time shot," he said. "I really would like to continue in the political realm right through my years on the planet. Right where you live is the best place in the whole world to really help out."
Clarkston News reporter