July 18, 2012 - For Orion Township Clerk, incumbent Penny Shults will face write-in candidate Elaine Hanes.
Penny Shults (click for larger version)
"Working for the township since 1989 has fostered a lasting commitment to serve the residents with excellence," said Penny Shults, 52, which is why she is running again. "I have the experience and knowledge necessary to ensure Orion Township continues to make sound decisions regarding public safety, finances, road improvements, and development."
Though honored to serve as clerk, Shults does not plan to rest on past successes. She believes the past four years have been "extremely productive" and will continue to look for ways to serve the community with increased efficiency wherever possible.
"I am dedicated to the residents of this great community," she said. "I want to hear from you and learn ways that we can work together to make Orion Township the best that we can be."
Shults can be contacted at 248-391-0304, ext. 104 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
As for her top priorities concerning the township, Shults wants to remain fiscally responsible to maintain the township's strong position despite the declining economy.
"I will continue to work diligently to ensure we manage township funds prudently by making informed financial decisions," she said. "Working with federal, state, and county agencies prepared me to face the challenges of managing our resources wisely."
Shults also said she is dedicated to fighting against the Eagle Valley Landfill expansion.
"Waste Management must honor their prior agreement and close the land fill as promised," added Shults. "There are residents in the area that are on private wells and we cannot put the community at risk."
She also said maintaining the safety of Orion Township is imperative.
"I fully support public safety and understand the importance of maintaining a safe level of Police and Fire protection for our community," she said.
Why should she be elected? Shults said in her first term as clerk she began to look for ways to bring additional revenue to the general fund, which included working with the State of Michigan to conduct Energy Efficiency Audits for all township facilities.
"These audits provided an assessment of energy savings potential with recommendations to implement these savings," she said. "We are taking advantage of various DTE incentive programs to implement energy efficiency improvements that provide energy savings."
She also worked hard to promote the 2010 US Census and "increase awareness of the financial impact of a complete census count."
"Not only did our population increase but our State Revenue Sharing increased 16 percent due in part to the 2010 Census results," added Shults. "This is great news for Orion Township."
In addition Shults also submitted a grant to the Orion Community Cable Commission, which awarded the township $34,000 to update board room communication equipment and "ensure residents receive the best possible broadcast of all public meetings."
Shults said she also responded to election law changes "implemented innovative ways to save money by retrofitting existing supplies, printing documents in house and utilizing Help America Vote grants to make needed parking lot improvements at various precincts" with the help of the clerk's office staff. They also were able to obtain 14 laptop computers through grant money to run the Electronic Poll Books at each precinct.
"As your Orion Township Clerk, I work with the Clerk's Office staff to provide training to over 150 Election Inspectors," she said. "We have an incredible group of dedicated Election Inspectors working together to ensure elections continue to run efficiently with results tabulated timely and accurately."
Prior to being elected clerk in 2008, Shults started work in the Assessor's Department in 1989. Her experience over the past two decades, has provided her an "overall perspective" on the important issues facing the community, she said.
"I will continue to build on the experience and knowledge to serve the residents of our community with excellence," Shults noted.
She has also served on several boards including Orion Township Board of Trustees, North Oakland Community Coalition, Orion Parks and Recreation Committee, Orion Senior Advisory Board and Oakland County Clerks Legislative Committee. She is also a member of Michigan Assessors Association and hold Advanced Assessing Officer and Personal Property Examiner Certifications through the State Tax Commission, as well as a member of Oakland County Clerks Association, Michigan Municipal Clerks Association, and International Institute of Municipal Clerks.
"I obtained my Certified Municipal Clerk designation and I'm working to obtain Master Municipal Clerk designation," she said. "It is imperative municipal clerks remain current on all issues concerning government finance, record management and election law."
Shults and her husband Al have been married 32 years, and raised their two children in Orion Township, who have grown and are now raising their children here as well.
"Members of my family have lived in the Orion area for five generations and I am grateful to serve in the community where my parents Steve and Marlene Ruebelman grew up," she said.
Having such a rich family history in the township is why Penny continues to support programs for both youth and senior citizens.
"We owe a debt of gratitude to our seniors for investing in the community and I'm convinced that recreation programs enhance the lives of everyone involved," she said. "Investing in our children's future will ensure Orion 'remains a great community for generations to come."
In 1988 went Elaine Hanes door-to-door with a petition in order to get 200 signatures in order to change the name "Suicide Slush" at a local Tastee Freeze. While out talking to the community folks who liked her effort, she was encouraged to run for mayor's office in the town she lived. After telling her husband of her idea to run, he suggested she "not give it another thought" until their children were grown up.
"Well, my children are grown up, all three of them" she said. "It's time for me, a loving mother; to put good efforts forward for the people I call my neighbors."
Hanes said she is not running in the race, but rather walking as a write-in candidate
Elaine Hanes (click for larger version)
"I take simple steps when it comes to dealing with others, she said. "I have two ears for which I utilize good listening skills with. My mind allows me to reason with information I receive, and I have a voice to be heard about getting the job done."
As for priorities facing the township, Hanes was disappointed when she heard about the $6 million unrestricted general fund, while other surrounding communities about $2 million.
"What is the town's folk wanting with that money," she asked. "Where they should think it could be used for community growth is something I am seeking to know from them and soon."
She also is concerned about the extra millage for the police and if it doesn't pass why it's being said it will "just come from the general fund."
"Why vote at all, if it's just going to be taken from a general fund," she questioned. "This I need to know too."
Hanes said she brings to the table "energy to change the 'Master Plan' for new developments to enhance the township.
"It was adopted in what? 1967, a long time ago anyway," she said. "I bring courage to face the times of 'building blocks' for generations to come. If five percent increase came within 10 years and we want to stay in our lovely community, then we best get busy letting those who want to grow with us, into our new and revised 'Master Plan.'"
Hanes said she will go out into the community every month with her office team and reach households to discuss what's important to them.
"I can govern township operations and interact with exceptional interpersonal skills," added Hanes. "My leadership abilities can influence desirable outcomes, involvement with township issues is my everyday make-up and of course I possess excellent administrative skills.
Hanes describes herself as a "50 year-old vibrant woman with motivation." She is currently a full-time student at Oakland University working on her social work degree and will remain a full-time student until she gets her Ph.D. is sociology. Having just finished her Medical Assisting Instruction courses at Carnegie Institute this past June, she is now seeking work with doctors.
Prior work includes seven years as a landscape designer for Bloomingfield's Floral Art Galleria LLC. until its doors closed in 2011.
"Working with people, among others striving to make a difference for a better world is what my greatest mission is, as are checks and balances," Hanes said.
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.