Three county board districts have general election races
The Roscommon County Board of Commissioners will have at least one new member after next week’s election, since incumbent Ed Nellist of Dist. 1 is not running for another term. Two other commission seats also could change hands, as Dist. 2 incumbent Ken Melvin faces a challenge from former Roscommon County Road Commissioner Larry Paxton and Dist. 5 incumbent Pam Stephan is being challenged by former county Commissioner Lowell Souder.
Nellist is leaving the Dist. 1 (Lake, Lyon and Markey Townships) seat on the county commission after six years, the last two as chairman. Vying to succeed him are Democrat Norm Fullmer and Republican David Russo.
Fullmer, 61, retired after seven years as center manager of United Building Centers/Pro Build in 2009. He was center manager of Wickes Lumber Co. from 1979-2002 and a surveyor for Shell Oil Co. from 1972- 79. He is a member of the Region 7B Workforce Development Board, an honorary life member of the Tri- Lakes Home Builders Association and was a member of the School-to- Work Executive Council from 1996- 2003.
“...I believe our primary goal should be to help Roscommon County develop its economy in as many ways as possible,” Fullmer said. “With projected funding cuts at the state and federal level, I believe we must rely on our own imagination and resources at the county and township levels to develop and nurture a sustainable economy...”
Fullmer said he would support the efforts of such organizations as the Roscommon County Regional Career Center, the Houghton Lake Lake Association, the three chambers of commerce, the office of economic development, the Houghton Lake Improvement Board, the Higgins Lake Foundation and Kirtland Community College. He supports expansion of bicycle routes, a county-wide recycling program and “awarding county contracts to local vendors whenever possible.”
Russo, 52, has been assistant chief of the Lake Township Fire Department for over 20 years and chairs the fire department grant committee. He also has chaired the township board of review for about eight years and is a former member of the Houghton Lake Ambulance Board. He has lived in the county 34 years. He was a sales manager at Abel Manufactured Housing, Houghton Lake, for 20 years and operates Houghton Lake Steamway, a carpet cleaning business.
“I would like to explore the grants available to this county for funding to fix our local dams and roads,” Russo said. “I would like to allocate money to maintain and improve the tourism in Roscommon County. I will listen to the needs of the department heads, including Roscommon County Sheriff’s Department, road commission, central dispatch and Houghton Lake Improvement Board. I will also work hard to maintain our lake system, whether it involves lake levels, problems with weeds or other future problems...I have always been a very good listener and pay close attention to researching a topic before making a decision.”
Ken Melvin is completing his first two-year term as Dist. 2 (Gerrish and Higgins Townships) Commissioner. Melvin, a Republican, is being challenged by Democrat Larry Paxton, a former county road commissioner.
Melvin, 63, retired after 21 years as a county maintenance department employee. He has lived in the county 33 years, and he and his wife, Kathy, have operated The Greenhouse in Gerrish Township for 37 years. Melvin is a life member of VFW Post 4159. He marches with other post members in parades, is part of the honor guard for Roscommon High School football games and is a member of the rifle squad for veterans’ funerals. He was a member of the Roscommon Area Public Library Millage Committee.
“One of my goals two years ago if elected was to increase the budget for economic development, and it is in the 2011 budget to increase the hours of the director from 20 to 32 per week,” Melvin said. “Two years ago I wanted to take control of the Higgins Lake level out of the hands of a single individual, and if reelected I will continue to serve on the seven-member committee that was formed at my request to control the lake level.”
Melvin attended Michigan State University from 1966-67 and 1972- 76. He was in the U.S. Air Force from 1967-71 and was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal while serving in the Vietnam War in 1969.
Paxton, 64, was a road commissioner from 1999-2008 and has lived in Gerrish Township 16 years. At his church, he has been senior warden, assistant treasurer and a youth camp staff member. Paxton is a past member of the Roscommon Rotary Club, a member of the MSU Extension Advisory Council and past commander of American Legion Post 96, Roscommon.
He has been owner and chief engineer of LV Paxton Engineering since 1993. He previously was a civil engineer for the Panama Canal Company, city manager in Lincoln, MA, owned LV Paxton Construction Company and a project engineer for SSOE Consulting.
“If elected to the county board I will work to control spending to ensure the county is not forced to face the kind of service cuts other counties are currently facing,” Paxton said. “As a starter, I will suggest that the county commissioners set an example by reducing their own salary and benefits.”
Paxton said he would look into offering early retirement to long-time employees as a way to save money.
The third round of a battle between rivals for Dist. 5 (most of Denton Township) Commissioner will take place in next week’s balloting. Republican nominee Lowell Souder is seeking to unseat Democrat Pam Stephan, who is completing her first two-year term on the board.
Souder and Stephan have been sparring since 2006, when Stephan, running as a Republican, lost to Souder, the Democratic nominee, in the race to replace retiring Commissioner Roman Pacella. In 2008, Stephan switched parties and defeated Souder in the Democratic primary. Souder then ran an unsuccessful write-in campaign in the general election.
Souder was Dist. 5 Commissioner in 2007-08. He has lived in the county 33 years and owned a business in Denton Township for 22 years. He is a U.S. Army veteran and was a truck driver for 25 years.
He is co-founder and a board member of the Houghton Lake Area Tourism and Convention Bureau. Souder is past president and a member of the Houghton Lake Merchants Association and the Houghton Lake Lions Club, where he has been chairperson/ coordinator of the club’s annual children’s Halloween party. He also is a member of the Roscommon County Economic Development Committee.
Souder said, “I will conduct myself with dignity, fiscal responsibility and accountability. I will work to promote growth in Roscommon County and to maintain the health and beauty of our lakes.” He added, “I believe that contract bids for services within the county should, when possible, be awarded to taxpaying citizens within Roscommon County.”
Stephan, 59, has lived in the district since 1994 and has been volunteer coordinator of Project Help Our People Eat since 1999. She also is vice-chair of Roscommon County United Way, treasurer of the Roscommon County Commission on Aging and a member of the MSU Auxiliary Board, the Houghton Lake Education Foundation and Roscommon County Voices in Action.
Before moving to Roscommon County, Stephan was a purchasing agent for Delphi Engineering and worked at the Montgomery County Library. She studied business and grant writing at Macomb and Kirtland Community Colleges.
Stephan said her accomplishments in her first term have included helping to adopt an ORV ordinance, helping to reduce health care costs by supporting Blue Care Network and working with townships and community centers. As a board member of Northwest Community Action Agency, she said she supported $270,000 worth of weatherization grants for home owners.
“I will continue to work for economic development and employment in our county,” Stephan said. “I will continue to work with the commission, develop lake level control, reduce costs to taxpayers and stay within the county budget. I will continue to support my community with integrity for all citizens.”
DISTS. 3, 4
The other two members of the county’s governing board lack opponents as they seek reelection. They are Democrat Bob Schneider of Dist. 3 (Au Sable, Richfield and Backus Townships) and Republican Marc Milburn of Dist. 4 (Roscommon, Nester and part of Denton Township).