2018 Ballot Proposals

We live in times of quick change. We also live in a time when fact and opinion are often confused and perception of a “narrative” shape public opinion. The goal today is: who can tell his story (with its elements of untruth) most convincingly? When looking for the actual text of the laws and constitutional amendments we will enact, it is easy to find summaries. I will give you the website addresses where you can read the actual full text of these proposals for yourself.

All three of these have a “one-sided” approach to the issue. Any future changes to these would need a super-majority of both houses, which is almost impossible.  Because of these two reasons, my first natural decision would be to vote “NO” on all three ballot proposals unless there is overwhelming need for the change.

The address for the full text of Proposal 1 https://www.michigan.gov/documents/sos/Full_Text_-_CRMLA_635255_7.pdf

This is completely new legislation so there are no specific changes listed to existing law. The understanding is that this law takes precedence over any existing law contrary to this language. I have already given an overview of that proposal in a previous article.

The address for the full text of Proposal 2 https://www.michigan.gov/documents/sos/Full_Text_-_VNP_635257_7.pdf

Proposals 2 and 3 are amendments to the constitution. When you read these documents, the print in regular font is the original text that is not changed. Text that has the strike through (this text is the present law) is what is being changed and eliminated. The text that is in all caps (THIS IS THE NEW TEXT TO BE ADDED) are the changes that you will be voting on.

 

The text of this ballot proposal is gerrymandering at its worst. These “communities of interest” (which are not defined) insures a new “non-partisan” gerrymandering. This bill is falsely claiming to eliminate gerrymandering. Read this section of the amendment and judge for yourself.

  1. C. DISTRICTS SHALL REFLECT THE STATE’S DIVERSE POPULATION AND COMMUNITIES OF INTEREST. COMMUNITIES OF INTEREST MAY INCLUDE, BUT SHALL NOT BE LIMITED TO, POPULATIONS THAT SHARE CULTURAL OR HISTORICAL CHARACTERISTICS OR ECONOMIC INTEREST. COMMUNITIES OF INTEREST DO NOT INCLUDE RELATIONSHIPS WITH POLITICAL PARTIES, INCUMBENTS, OR POLITICAL CANDIDATES.

To me this is legalized gerrymandering. Who will decide how much advantage these “communities of interest” will receive under this undefined section.

13D DISTRICTS SHALL NOT PROVIDE A DISPROPORTIONATE ADVANTAGE TO ANY POLITICAL PARTY.  A DISPROPORTIONATE ADVANTAGE TO A POLITICAL PARTY SHALL BE DETERMINED USING ACCEPTED MEASURES OF PARTISAN FAIRNESS.

A majority of districts by this “fairness” doctrine could be drawn with the advantage to one point of view.  Can a district in Detroit be drawn to not advantage one side or can a district be drawn in Livingston to not advantage the other side?

Changes in Section 1 limit the full authority of the legislature as the sole legislative body in Michigan.

Changes in Section 2 and 3 eliminate the counties as the first consideration in drawing the district lines. Livingston now has 3 voices in Lansing. The new boundaries would most likely divide Livingston to be part of an Ingham County district on the west, part of a Genesee County district on the north. part of an Oakland county district on the east and part of a Washtenaw district on the South. Livingston would be lucky to have one dedicated representative.

These sections will also make both the senate and the house based on population only.  The cities and their concerns will dominate both houses in Lansing and the rural and upper peninsula points of view will likely be lost forever. This is not a good prospect for the unity of the state. Presently the senate has a little different criteria for districting so that you have the possibility of at least two different points of view between the two chambers.

Section 6 gives this unelected commission the place of a “permanent legislative committee in the legislative branch.” This is also undefined in the proposal. What powers will this committee have? Their work cannot be questioned or changed in the smallest way by your elected  legislators or Governor and only in a limited way by the courts

Section 6.2 Puts the Secretary of State in charge of the whole process of choosing the members. This power could at sometime in the future be misused.

The address for the full text of proposal 3

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/sos/Full_Text_-_PTV_635256_7.pdf

I fully support the right for everyone to vote…once. Voter fraud like double voting or voting by non-citizens should be verifiably prohibited.  This has the most merit of all three but registering by mail (without a personal appearance) seems problematic. Same day registration and voting up to and including the day of an election also seems to open the door for undetectable fraud. Provisional ballots now take care of this problem of people wanting to vote when they for some reason are not on the voter registration list. These ballots must have the proper authentication before they are actually counted.

We as citizens have been given this right to legislate directly. If you expect your representative to read and be informed before they vote, you should expect the same of yourself. Read them through before you vote. A good representative thinks not only of himself, but also of the long-term effects of his/her vote on the whole community.

Doug Helzerman County Commissioner

dhelzerman@livgov.com

 

2018 General Election Message

I was drafted into the military in 1969 and served for two years.  All but 3 of my advanced-training class (50-60 people) went to Viet Nam.  I was one of the three who were sent to Korea. Going almost anywhere in the world makes you very thankful that you have the privilege of being an American.  Though no one showed me disrespect when I walked through an airport in uniform, I could feel the tension. In retrospect, we can imagine that much of the Vietnam protest was not just organic, but had a certain level of funded organizers, and the “trusted” media had an agenda to legitimize the claim that the war was unjust.  We recently visited the “wall that heals” when it came to Livingston County. It helps to put history in context. My wife and I witnessed an older couple who came to see one name and have a veteran sponsor help them “trace” the name on a piece of paper. This was perhaps their first experience of the wall and the honor finally given to their loved one.  Was it a son or a nephew? Did they contemplate what might have been as they viewed the name? I stand with all veterans and greatly revere those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. We can’t all do that, but we can each do our part for our families, our communities, our counties, and our country.

I believe in low taxes and limited government.  Government has two basic purposes. One is to protect each person and group from tyranny, to keep the peace so that we can dwell in safety, and to protect our personal property.  The other is to provide for services, in areas that can better be addressed by everyone together instead of one alone, such as maintaining roads, etc.

As a County Commissioner, I have sought to be a team player and have asked many questions to understand the issues before the board instead of making snap decisions.  I have encouraged the forward movement of our county to more efficient government, but that which is also responsive to the everyday needs of citizens. I support money-saving measures where sensible, because a dollar not spent this year is a dollar decreased in next year’s budget.  I have advocated for the new state-of-the-art 911 dispatch center now underway. I agreed with “piggy-backing” a smaller project with the 911 project so as to save money on the smaller project, which was building a structure to house tactical vehicles giving them a longer life and making them available for immediate use in all weather conditions.

We are presently considering two major expenditures: the first would be a one-time infusion of money to roads in a way that will leverage state and federal funds in conjunction with local money; second, to build a permanent building for the Meals On Wheels program that serves 1500 meals 5 days a week to residents in Livingston and Oakland counties.  Again, there is a sizeable grant that will help to buy property and build the facility in Livingston County. To initiate the grant, money will need to be given by both counties. Even for a limited-government person like me, it makes sense that some expenditure now, to insure that a worthy program has facilities for 30 to 50 years into the future, has merit.

I see that part of my responsibility as a commissioner is to exercise oversight of the volunteer boards to which we appoint voting members.  The Veterans’ Affairs committee is an example. Information during this election cycle from a political party has served to highlight this duty.  I have done research and asked questions to make myself aware of the actual facts of this matter. The board has no authority to “micromanage” these committees, but to ask for reports on activities, which we are currently doing.

The PFAS issue must also be considered outside of the political realm.  We all want clean water and a pristine world to live in. Thankfully, the governor has taken action uncovering the problems in the Huron River watershed.  The major sources so far are outside of Livingston county. Our Health Department, who reports to us twice a month, is on the front lines in handling this issue.  I will completely support their approach to find and minimize the effects of this pollution wherever found in our county.

I ask for your vote on November 6th so that I may continue to represent you, the residents of western Livingston county.  It is a privilege I enjoy.

2018 Primary Election

I am a lifelong resident of Livingston County (Fowlerville), and my varied work experiences have, I believe, fitted me to understand the everyday struggles of the people I represent.  As I talk to people in my district, I frequently run across those who say, “I knew your dad,” and proceed to tell me about what they learned from him or how he helped them. Some know my siblings, my wife, or my in-laws, showing that reputations are built over many years and many relationships.  

The accomplishments of the Livingston County Board of Commissioners are those of the whole group, not any one person.  I am proud of the work we have done: keeping taxes low; spending within our budget (even saving a rainy-day fund); putting finishing touches on the new jail building; and initiating the construction of a state-of-the-art 911 dispatch building.  We supported the health department in refurbishing the building that is now MCDC (My Community Dental Center), which is a full- service office especially for low-income residents or those without dental insurance.

It has been my goal to keep in touch with local governments in the county as much as possible and to address constituent concerns, taking them to the correct department, getting answers, and following up with the persons who raised them (or putting them directly in contact with the right agency).

Working on the OLHSA board has acquainted me with the availability of education and assistance aimed at helping low-income folks to help themselves, raising their standard of living and helping them eventually to become independent of government help, restoring their sense of personal pride.  I now serve on OLHSA’s executive committee.

The learning curve for a county commissioner requires more than two years in office, to know the system and the people in order to be most effective on the job.  I am looking forward to another term in order to help keep a consistency in our county government. I want to further my involvement with the opioid taskforce which is working toward a unified solution to the problems facing our county, state, and nation.

I am a constitutional conservative and a Republican who has served my country in Korea during the Viet Nam war, who supports our 2nd amendment rights, and who has the endorsement of the Right to Life PAC of Michigan.  The privilege of electing our representatives in this country is the heart of our liberty and should never be taken for granted.  I humbly ask for your vote on Tuesday, August 7th, so that I may continue to serve you.

“Recreational” Marijuana Proposal

Recently several us on the board of commissioners wanted to go on the record as being against the ballot initiative that would change the legal status of marijuana. Though none have spoken favorably to this ballot issue, it was brought to our attention that according to the campaign finance law a legislative body can spend no public funds on advocating on either side of a ballot issue.  Technically, an elected body may pass a resolution giving a joint opinion of the group, but it is unclear if making the information available (as all other official actions are required to be filed) is counted as “expending money.” Individual elected officials are completely free to give their own opinion as long as it is clear that they are speaking for themselves and not on behalf the board of which they are a part.

There are two types of ballot issues. Some are legislative acts and others are constitutional amendments. If they are legislative, they are more detailed and can only be changed by a 2/3rds vote of both houses (as was done some time after the medical marijuana ballot issue was passed).

This year, there are two ballot issues that have brought the most attention to themselves: the decriminalization of marijuana; and the proposal that would change the rules for drawing the districts for US representatives to Washington and the state senators and representatives to Lansing.

In this article, I will speak to the key provisions of the so- called “recreational marijuana” proposal. This is a legislative initiative that will have the force of law as soon as it is approved.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Marijuana is like cigarettes in that it may be smoked and it is a hard habit to break. It is like alcohol in that drunkenness and being stoned makes certain activities, such as driving while under the influence, dangerous. It is like hard drugs because of its present illegal status and because it “fogs” the mind and is addicting.

There are several things this law will not change. Smoking of marijuana in public or in vehicles is not allowed. Its stated purpose is to work against the illegal (unlicensed) sale of marijuana. Marijuana will still be illegal federally.  Licensed marijuana facilities will not be in residential areas or near schools.

The biggest change will be that advertising will be allowed, marijuana stores will be in many communities, and perhaps the most significant change will be the ready availability of marijuana edibles (products infused with the active ingredients of marijuana).

 

Please note that the word “recreational” is only used twice in the bill when referring to recreational vehicles. This word is the wrong word to use when referencing this bill. It is a clever way to make marijuana look normal and harmless.

 

The bill would allow locations that would be licensed “adult” stores to sell and consume “legal” marijuana products and accessories (along with any other products to make a profit) in places where no one under 21 is allowed. A 10% tax is added to marijuana sales in addition to other taxes but increased revenue  does not alter the negative effects of likely- increased marijuana use at all levels and ages.

 

Landlords may eliminate smoking of marijuana in a building they own, but possession of marijuana or the eating of marijuana-infused products must be allowed in all leased properties.

Smoking of marijuana is still not allowed in public or in cars, boat, and recreational vehicles in public ways, but possession of marijuana in all forms is allowed in these vehicles if in the proper container. All but the drivers of these vehicles may partake in “eating” consumable marijuana.

There are several confusing provisions. Marijuana cannot be grown in public view…. unless it is in a “secured” enclosure (a locked chain linked fence?).

An employer will (supposedly) be able to continue his current drug policy but this proposed law only allows dismissal for being “under the influence” while at work.  

There is no limit on the number of licenses that the “department” may issue and all licenses that fulfill all of the requirements of the law must be issued. On the other hand, after 24 months some limits that seem to be necessary are to be considered. Which reading will be enforced?

The medical marijuana law was passed by the vote of the people of the state, but local townships had to opt in if they wanted to welcome growers and medical marijuana “stores”. If you look on the map of places where you can legally buy marijuana, you will find that in practice there are very few locations in the whole state that “opened their arms” to legal medical marijuana.

This legislation makes denial of marijuana much more difficult. Townships or municipalities can only refuse marijuana growers, processors, places of sales, etc. by a vote of the people initiated ONLY by the petition of the voters of the affected area.

If you don’t want a marijuana business in your town, you will at sometime have to vote no. It is one thing to allow liberty to another, but when it becomes a bother to you it is quite another story.

Even if this passes, marijuana will still be illegal in Michigan because of federal law. The ballot language provides that all laws (state and local) that contradict this proposal are null and void. However, it is also very clear that it does not displace any applicable federal laws.

No money from a marijuana transaction may legally be put in a federally-regulated bank. The obvious question is “Will the State of Michigan be able to bank ‘illegal’ money?” If not, the state will have to receive a pile of cash and will have to find ways to safely secure and account for that cash that will likely find ways to “walk away.” The security of this loose cash will be problematic with every movement of product within the marijuana empire.

The way you vote on this is a personal decision.  It is neither republican nor democrat, conservative or liberal.  It is a matter of judgment. How will this affect your family, your community and your state?  I hope this information helps you. Have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend.

 

I ASK FOR YOUR VOTE   I ASK FOR YOUR VOTE

KEEP THE MOMENTUM  >> VOTE REPUBLICAN

 

 

  

 

Veteran’s Affairs Committee

The Livingston Department of Veterans’ Affairs has been in the news for a couple of reasons: (1.) Complaints that the Veterans’ committee was not spending the money from the recently passed millage in the way promised before its adoption;  (2.) An investigation of alleged mishandling of one person’s donation.

Let me give some context to what is happening. Sometime after the Civil War, a system of county veterans’ organizations was established to meet the needs of veterans of that era. Previous to that, all “indigent” people were helped by a social safety network funded and controlled by each local township. This was well before the National VA, the health and hospital system, and the current well-developed national social safety net that is available for all (including veterans) with needs. In 1953, state law changed to give the county commissioners authority to appoint 3 to 7 committee members to run the newly-available “Department of Veterans’ Affairs” in counties wanting the modernized delivery of service to veterans. In Livingston County, we, the Board of County Commissioners, are responsible to appoint the members of this Veterans’ Committee, who then have the full responsibility to administer its funds and the programs. We may only remove a committee member for cause, not for differences of opinion. We also have power to control downward the amount of millage that is assessed to property owners. In fact, this committee has never asked to assess the whole amount approved by the voters. I understand that they are proposing another cut this year in the mileage rate going to their agency.

Notice the first accusation is not for foolish spending, but for not spending money. This means the money is still there to be spent. Secondly, the literature that I saw promoting the 2016 vote for the veterans’ millage used the words “may be” instead of “will be”. It was presented as a vision, not a promise. We all know that money never goes as far as we would like. It is unrealistic to expect that the entire amount would be spent immediately and every program be fully functional.

The Board of Commissioners recently approved spending some of this money by opening a position for a full-time veterans’ court official to handle the cases for the specialty court to help veterans without incarcerating them. The members of the Veterans’ Board came to advocate for only a part-time official because of the small number of cases involved. They compared the case load in other counties’ specialty courts and recommended that we create only a part-time position. Their concern was not the amount of money, but the efficient use of the money. The board in that case agreed with the court’s request for the full-time position.

The Veterans’ Affairs Committee is a very active group and they have had a hard time finding a director with their same philosophy. This has created more turnover than is best for any organization and has slowed the process of implementing the proposed plans for the millage.

Though all of the bullet points of the proposed uses in the veterans’ literature may not turn into “promises kept,” I am confident that this money is now, and in the future will be, harnessed to the best advantage.

Regarding the current investigation, we do not know what will be discovered in this probe and I feel it is best not to comment further at this time.  

Governor Snyder’s call for a review of public water systems in Michigan has found unacceptable levels of PFAS in a few water systems in Michigan (Kalamazoo to name one). In Livingston County, a “do not eat fish” notice has been issued for the Huron River system all the way to Lake Erie because of fish found in Kent Lake with elevated levels of this chemical in their bodies. A likely source has been located in a Wixom Factory that electroplates.   A new filtering system is being installed to eliminate polluted discharge.

Because of this, the state has ordered the testing of all public wells. Twice a month Matt Bolang, the director of Livingston County’s Environmental Department, gives us an update on this concern for our county. As of Monday night (10-1), Matt stated that 73 of the 87 public wells in the county have been tested and 57 of the results have come back. Of these results, many have a “no detection” and all results are well within the acceptable standard. He has advised us that at this time there is no action he recommends for the Board of Commissioners to take. We are doing everything in our power to insure that the water sources in Livingston County are protected.

PFAS chemicals are in a family of 4000 or more chemicals of a similar complex construction. Thirty or more of these are in common use in society. “Scotch guard” on clothes, water resistant paper food wraps at fast-food restaurants, and fire-fighting foam are some of the daily uses that contribute to the present pollution and future concerns.

These chemicals are not harmful (generally) when in contact with the skin, as swimming in the water or being sprayed with water. Its harm is in the ingesting of this water and then the negative affect when it accumulates in the fatty cells of the body.

I hope this snapshot of the issues will be helpful to you.  Please contact me with any further questions.

 

There are some problems of turnover of th

The literature that

Commercial Abatements

Most resolutions that come before the County Commissioners are passed with an overwhelming majority. This week, the requested commercial abatement by Hartland township for an Emagine theater was being considered and was rejected by a 5-4 vote. Several months ago the commissioners had approved a similar request for a rehabilitation district with a unanimous vote. What was the difference? Howell’s request was for a larger area with no specific projects in mind. This one was a request for only one parcel in a larger district and the use, a theater, was already known.

Abatements have always generated a philosophical debate about their fairness to existing businesses who are paying full taxes. My feeling about abatements is that it highlights the fact that taxes are often too high to attract new business. I have voted for abatements when I was on the Village council and support the use of abatements for industrial uses. At the same time, I would advocate for a system that would lower taxes, making our state more attractive to industries that in turn bring good-paying jobs. Historically the Livingston county commissioners have worked to keep our tax level as low as possible for that very reason.   

With the Hartland request for a commercial abatement for a theater in the property adjacent to the M-59—US 23 interchange, questions that were not obvious in Howell’s general request started to surface. Would this add too much traffic to the already heavy traffic patterns? What additional pressures would it put on police and ambulance services because the theater would have a liquor license? How could we give one theater an abatement without also offering it to the theater in Brighton? Is it right to take away taxes that would benefit the whole county for the benefit of just one area? Should it be allowed because Hartland should have its own local control? Should this advantage be given to a business that offers mostly part-time jobs whose wages are close to the minimum?

When the general philosophy was viewed in this specific application, the advantages of commercial abatements were seen in a different light by five of us commissioners. The abatement request was denied. Had the Hartland request been considered before Howell’s resolution, Howell’s would also have been a close vote and likely also turned down.

On a related note, I would like to thank Fred Dillingham for his long career of public service to our county, our state, and especially the Fowlerville area. At the end of this month Fred is resigning from his “second” career of economic development. His devotion has brought many businesses and jobs to our area. Fred’s leadership in Fowlerville, Handy Township, and the surrounding area rightfully used industrial abatements across the board along with detailed planning and coordination to bring advantages to many of us.

I appreciated the input I received on both sides of the question from my constituents and others from the county. Answering the emails helped me to clarify the reasons for my vote.

Please contact me with any communication or concern that you may have. 517 540-8717 or dhelzerman@livgov.com               

Spark Economic Development

Every year the county board reorganizes to shift responsibilities and give a new appearance and fresh
goals. Don Parker was chosen as the new chairman and Dennis Dolan as the vice chair. I kept my
assignments on the construction, parks, and public safety committees. I represent the county on the
OLHSA board and the Fowlerville LDFA board. I was assigned to the office of vice chair of the finance
committee. I am looking forward to another year of service for our county and the 4 th district on west
side of Livingston.

Handy Township has contracted with Spark to help with economic development that is coming to the
area. The LDFA has voted to pay for the services of Spark. DDA and the Village council will also need to
approve their part of this agreement to finalize it. Without Fred Dillingham, this area is in need of help
to retain the businesses already providing jobs and tax base for our community. There is potential for
new companies to locate here. This makes it imperative that we have a person or company like Spark
that helps to maneuver all of the necessary steps to finalize the vision of new business.
Across the county, each township and municipality has a different view of economic development.
Conway, Iosco, and Unadilla Townships have shown no interest in the services supplied by Spark.
Brighton and Putnam Townships have recently rejected resolutions to support Spark’s mission.
However, many other townships and municipalities have found partnership with Spark very beneficial.
If you have any comments or concerns, I would be happy to hear from you. 517 540-8717 or
dhelzerman@livgov.com.

District Courts and Building Permits

This summer has given us at least four reasons for humility. The eclipse of the sun, two strong hurricanes that hit the mainland of our county, and the earthquake in Mexico. These put our existence and our place in life into a true comparison to the immutable forces we see in the universe. There are many things that one person, a group of people or the whole of humanity has no power to change. Many say these are only random occurrences. It makes more sense to me that an all-powerful God alone has the ultimate ability to control such events for purposes that we do not always understand.    

The constitution and the character of the American people have been blessed by God to give our country the greatest expression of liberty known in the world. Part of my goal in the office of Commissioner is to find ways that we can sustain liberty in our country not only now and in the near future, but also in perpetuity.

Livingston county has approved a request by the county courts to reconfigure the distribution of the courts. The request would change the present arrangement of two district court judges and two circuit court judges. The study indicated that the need in our county would be best met by having three circuit court judges and only one district judge. These type of changes are usually made only when a judges are “age limited” out of a position. Judge Carol Reader will not be able to run for her present position in November 2018.  There will need to be another level of approval, and we are anticipating it to be set in time for people to sign up to enter the race for the “new” position.

The commission has given our building department the green light to revise the fees charged for building permits. Because of the recovery of the economy, the funds received from permits has exceeded the amount of money needed to run the department. By law this excess cannot be transferred to other county needs. The only (and best) option is to lower the rate charged to permit recipients. There will be a decrease by a 25 per cent factor. Other individual rates have been adjusted (mostly downward). Some permits that are considered to be unnecessary will be eliminated.

Recently, the Sparrow Hospital announced that their charges for our medical examination and forensic pathology service would increase considerably. We chose to contract with the University of Michigan Department of Pathology for these services. This new contract is significantly more than we had been spending but considerably less than what we would have spent without this change.

If you have any comments or concerns, I would be happy to hear from you. 517 540-8717 or dhelzerman@livgov.com.

Ride-Along with Livingston County Sheriff

This month some of my time has been spent experiencing services provided in Livingston County.  One morning I did a “ride along” with Deputy Davis in an attempt to “walk a mile” in a policeman’s moccasins.  We responded to several calls: a customer complaint at a local restaurant that had the potential to become violent; the stopping of a speeding vehicle going 70 mph on a back road; an investigation of a report of a couch left beside the road; and finally an answer to a call from a home where a young person had died of a drug overdose.  Deputy Davis is a product of the comprehensive training and dedication of our local sheriff’s department.

I was invited to visit the jail to observe first- hand the operations and improvements along with the new addition.  The new setup allows the county to properly separate inmates according to risk and to provide further services and support to prepare them to become productive citizens.

The board of commissioners has passed a resolution encouraging the development of broadband access for rural Livingston County.  This was a necessary step in the qualification process so that we may receive state and federal grants for that purpose.

This week the 911 Dispatch Center was on my agenda.  The Deputy Director, Chad Chewning, gave me a tour of the facility, acquainting me with the new system and the protocols used nationwide.  He also shared his vision for the future.

As your county representative, I look forward to your input.  You may email me at dhelzerman@livgov.com.

Doug Helzerman for Livingston County

Douglas Helzerman, a candidate for Livingston County commissioner of District 4, has a vision of what the rural western side of the county could be like in 50 years.

The Republican candidate said future development should be a balance two things: maintaining rural character and changing with the times.

“I would encourage development of what I would call the Gregory Road project,” Helzerman said.

He said Gregory Road could be “developed into a big road,” which could involve building Interstate 96 ramp exchanges.

“Then each township could develop a village along it for stores and industry, and you could retain the rural flavor. Development has been discouraged by dividing it into 5-acre plots. It eats up the farmland. I favor developing villages and you can still keep large farmland,” he said.

The District 4 county commissioner represents all of Conway, Handy, Iosco and Unadilla townships; the village of Fowlerville; and a portion of Putnam Township.

He will be running against fellow Republican Mary Helfmann and Democrat Dennis Lee Andrzyczak, who have also filed as candidates.

Current District 4 County Commissioner Ron VanHouten — Helzerman ran against him twice in close races — is running for a trustee position in Iosco Township.

“My family moved to the county when I was in kindergarten before the expressway. My dad was one of the first people out of Detroit in the 1950s, and he wanted to move out of Detroit because he saw the moral decay. And he moved out of Detroit as the Democrats took over and the population decreased. … I always hope for western Livingston County we would be smarter than other people who handled the influx of people from Detroit,” he said.

Helzerman said things could start today.

“It could be 50 years down the road, but if we don’t start today, it would be more expensive to buy the right of ways,” he said.

The former Fowlervile village councilman has a background in religious education. He was a principal at Fowlerville Baptist School and taught at Wixom Christian School. He is also a deacon who attends Antrim Baptist Church. He said he started getting involved in the community through the church he was brought up in, Fowlerville Baptist Church, after returning from Korea where he served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.

 

Helzerman, who is retired from other jobs he has had since stepping away from teaching 10 years ago, said he intends to be “a full-time commissioner” if voters elect him.

 

He said roads, sewer and water infrastructure should be priorities.

 

Preparing for changes in Internet technology and communications is also needed, in his opinion.

 

“One of the things that rural American will be dealing with is the removal of phone lines. From what I understand, that is coming, and if the county and townships are not in front of that and provide high-speed Internet, there is going to be a train wreck,” Helzerman said.

 

Written by

Jennifer Eberbach

Appeared in Livingston Daily

May 8, 2016