In the three contested races for the Grand Traverse County board, voters have a chance to re-elect two commissioners who have been asking the tough questions and a newcomer who promises to do the same.
We recommend Jason Gillman in the 1st District, Ross Richardson in the 5th District and Christine Maxbauer in the 7th District.
Gillman is a newcomer who has never sought office before but has a longtime interest in politics and government. He is a local tea party organizer who says he's "a little more conservative" than the board's current conservatives. One issue that led him to run is the county's take over of American Legion baseball and a possible takeover of a girl's softball league. "We have lots of responsibilites in county government and that's not one of them," he said.
He is also the son of Mike Gillman, who won a Traverse City Commission seat last year.
Richardson, who was elected two years ago, has established himself as someone who asks the tough questions but also demands answers. He says the top issues facing the board right now are the septage plant, getting the budget under control and the grants the county doles out to various groups, which he considers a drain on the budget. He also said he'd like to see the city and county to at least talk about joint fire and police services.
Richardson is being challeged by longtime local official and former Traverse City police and fire chief Ralph Soffredine, who presently serves on the city commission. While Soffredine has experience at many levels of local government, Richardson has done an excellent job and deserves re-election.
Maxbauer, who has been on the board nearly four years, has consistently asked the hard questions, essentially pushed the board to televise board meetings and has held the administration to account on a host of issues.
Maxbauer and Richardson are two of the few who push for answers past the handouts, and Gillman has the potential to do the same.