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Van Tassel and Barnett battle for supervisor spot

Chris Barnett and JoAnn Van Tassel debate during the Orion Neighborhood Television (ONTV) candidate forum. Photo by T. Keiser (click for larger version)
July 18, 2012 - Incumbent JoAnn Van Tassel will take on Chris Barnett for the role of Orion Township Supervisor.

Jo Ann Van Tassel, 74 who was appointed Supervisor after Matt Gibb left to work for Oakland County in 2011 said she is running for the position because she "cares about the community, the people who live here and has no ambition for a higher position."

"Supervisor is not a stepping stone position for me," she said. "In the past year since I was appointed supervisor, I have met a number of township residents who have come to me with neighborhood concerns. I have worked with them to address those concerns, and in doing so, the Township has become a better place in which to live."

According to Van Tassel the top three priorities facing the township are providing police, emergency and fire protection services, providing other services and facilities people want, while staying within the funds available, as well as attracting new business and residents to Orion Township.

"Bringing new development to the community means new jobs and increased tax revenue which in turn helps fund the public safety and other items people want," Van Tassel said.

As for why she should be elected, Van Tassel said she brings "experience as the chief administrative officer in two different municipalities with a record of ending each fiscal year in the black, a record of watching spending, of getting the best bang for the buck, and always keeping the interests of the taxpayer in mind."

"I believe if you watch the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves," she added. "In short, I bring fiscal experience and integrity to the position."

Having worked in both the in the private and public sector, Van Tassel said she has the ability to run the township as a business.

"Both my parents were small business owners as was my grandfather and uncles," she said. "I grew up aware of the need to watch spending while offering real value to the customer."

Van Tassel has a Bachelor of Arts degree and some post college work as well.

"I have worked in the retail, advertising and automotive supplier fields as well as the public sector," she said. "I bring a wealth of varied experiences and contacts which has enabled me to better serve the taxpayers in Orion Township."

Chris Barnett, 35, said he is running so that his three daughters will make the same choice he and his wife did 14 years ago, when they decided to plant their roots in Lake Orion.

"Our community is one with unmatched pride and involvement, except when it comes to our local government. I will work hard to change that," said Barnett. "I am humbled to have the support of many friends and neighbors who have encouraged me to seek this position. I will encourage all members of our community to get involved (including our youth) to realize a collective vision for the future of Orion Township."

As for the top three priorities facing the township, Barnett said they need an "environment that attracts businesses and homeowners to the community."

"I have a plan to transform vacant industrial and commercial property into viable revenue streams while maintaining the "small-town" feel of our residential neighborhoods," he said.

He also believes they need to better engage the community, but telling residents what the board has decided what's best for them is the wrong approach.

"I will do a much better job not only communicating with our residents, but including them in the process," he noted.

Lastly Barnett said there needs to be a plan to "carry the beauty of our lakes and trails to our more traveled areas, such as M-24 and Baldwin Road. Through partnerships, increased revenue (not tax increases), and community engagement."

"We can make this a reality," he said.

Why should he be elected? Barnett said he brings "integrity, sound judgment and an unmatched passion to the office of supervisor."

"I have no personal agenda and I will put the interests of all Orion residents ahead of my own. Orion Township politics shouldn't be an exclusive club. It's time for the 'good ole boys club' to be gone," he said. "I will establish open office hours for anyone to come see me, without appointment, as well as collaborate and cultivate relationships with other local communities."

Barnett has had 15 years of experience in the private sector management, as well as community involvement. He currently serves on the Planning Commission, is the PTO president at Lake Orion High School, Vice President of the Lake Orion Optimist Club, active member and mentor at Kensington Church, elected precinct delegate, Oakland Ridge HOA President, and past Commissioner and coach for the LO Girls Softball League.

"I have assumed leadership roles in everything that I do," he said. "If you would like I would be honored to have your support and your vote on August 7."

For more information visit or Facebook "Chris Barnett Orion Supervisor."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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