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Five candidates, four seats in Leonard election

Birr (click for larger version)

Birr (click for larger version)
October 27, 2010 - While Michigan voters are busy deciding who will be the next governor to blow them away, Leonard's 270 registered voters will head to the polls Nov. 2 to choose who's going to represent them on their village council.

Four candidates are running for three non-partisan trustee seats, each of which carries a four-year term.

Appearing on the ballot are incumbents Larry Hoffman and Paul Almeranti along with challenger John F. Verse.

Running as a write-in candidate is Gerald (Jerry) J. Birr II. He filed with the township clerk on Oct. 12.

Hoffman (click for larger version)
In addition to the three full-term seats, there's also a partial-term seat on the ballot.

Incumbent Douglas Noaker is running unopposed for that seat, which carries a term that expires in November 2012.

Hoffman, 64, has lived in Leonard for more than 40 years. He's served on the council for the past seven years.

A retiree from Detroit Edison, Hoffman indicated that if he's re-elected, he'd like to pursue ways to power "the whole village" using alternative (or green) energy systems such as wind and solar.

"I don't know if it will ever come to pass, but we've been checking into it," he said. "It would better the community."

Noaker (click for larger version)
Hoffman indicated he'd also like to continue helping channel the Community Development Block Grant funding to people who need it, particularly senior citizens.

"I know a lot of people in town and I go around and try to help them out if I can," he said.

Almeranti has served on council for approximately 25 years and lived in Leonard since 1978. When asked why he's seeking re-election, the 61-year-old sheet metal worker replied, "To carry on what we've been doing, taking care of the village."

Verse, 62, is a familiar face to many in Leonard. Not only has he lived there since 1985, he previously served one term each as council trustee and village president.

Verse was also head of the village Department of Public Works for 10 years.

Verse (click for larger version)
Verse, who works as a truck driver, said he decided to run because "I'd liked to see some new blood on the council."

"I think I have some things I can contribute to help residents of the village," he said.

After years of being told he should run for council, Birr, 41, finally listened and filed as a write-in candidate. "I'm hoping I can make a difference," he said.

Birr, a village resident since 1995, realizes he can't "go in there and change everything," but he's confident he can be "more of a voice for people."

"Over the past few years, there hasn't been much of a voice for the people," he said.

When it comes to solving the village's drainage problems and sidewalk issues, Birr is hopeful he can "step it up to get results."

As an independent entrepreneur, Birr noted, "I work with a lot of people and I work well with people."

He went into business for himself after working for General Motors for almost 20 years as a program manager. Last year, he obtained his master's degree in business.

Like the other candidates, Noaker, 56, is also a longtime village resident having lived there for 31 years. A bus driver for a daycare facility in Lake Orion, Noaker's served on council for the last two years. He previously served as a trustee years ago.

Keeping an eye on the village budget is Noaker's main concern. "I like to make sure that what dollars we do have coming in are spent wisely," he said. "This is where I live. I like to see it being taken care of."

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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