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Paul Amman: Two decades in township government

October 17, 2012 - Atlas Twp.- After more than 20 years in local government—Paul Amman has established a mantra that can often resolve an issue before it escalates out of control.

"Have you talked to your neighbor?" asks Amman, 74. "When a resident would come in to complain, I tried to suggest they talk about the dispute before the township government would get involved. Because if we go out there or the code enforcement officer gets involved, there sometimes is a bigger problem. I'd tell them, 'Remember, you have to live next door to your neighbor when it's all over.'"

Amman, who currently serves as township trustee, did not run in the August primary and will retire from public office when his term ends next month. Monday night was his final township board of trustees meeting.

Starting in 1992, Amman served eight years on the township planning commission, four years as trustee and eight years as township supervisor. In June 2008 he suffered a heart attack and underwent triple bypass surgery. In August 2008 Amman lost his bid for a third term as supervisor by 25 votes to current supervisor Shirley Kautman-Jones. There was no recount. In March 2011 Amman was appointed by a 3-1 vote to complete the term of township trustee Scott Statson, who resigned earlier that year.

"The reason I ran in the first place in 1992 was I did not like the way things were going in the township," he said. "Back then the township was being developed fast, lot sizes were too small. There was high density housing considered, the township was going to look like Grand Blanc Township. We wanted the township to keep the rural character since that was the reason we moved out here anyway."

"Sara Bachman was the township treasurer at the time and she told me the only way to make changes was to change the ordinances. So I, along with Barry June, Scott Statson, Tere Onica and Ann Marie (Slagle) ran for office. I won and served on the planning commission at the same time as trustee. Over the years we have retained the rural character of Atlas Township. That was our goal back then and is still our goal. Pat Major is the new trustee that replaces me on the board and he'll do a good job."

"I've enjoyed my years in service in the township. I realize that for any action there's a reaction," he laughed. "When you make one person happy someone else is going to be unhappy. It has never changed in all these years. I always felt even if you don't agree with me, at least you'll respect me if I'm telling you the truth. I could tell you what you want to hear, but I've never been very good at mush mouthing."

Many challenges face the township in the next few years.

"I don't think real estate is going to bounce back anytime soon," he said. "Municipalities are going to struggle to maintain the services they currently have. The money we have put into roads that keeps the township healthy with roads, bridges, is going to get very tight. The board is going to have to get innovative to just keep it the way it is."

Amman said he's ready to move on.

"My wife will retire soon," said Amman, who retired from General Motors in 2000, the same year he first ran for supervisor. "I've been going to township meetings for many years."

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