HARBERT – After discussion on the matter during their April 11 meeting, members of the Chikaming Township Board voted 4-1 to adopt a resolution supporting legislation to allow township boards the option to have elected offices appear as nonpartisan on the ballot.

Supervisor David Bunte said the item appeared on the meeting agenda as a result of a request from the Michigan Townships Association (MTA) to help ascertain the positions of townships throughout the state on this issue.

“I think leaving it up to having mostly partisan candidates appear on the ballot limits voter’s options if they may only go with one party or the other,” Bunte commented. “Most of the people I discuss political matters with seem to be upset with both parties at this point in time.”

Trustee Rich Sullivan said that he was extremely frustrated with both major political parties.

“They are so all over the place, and the extremists on both sides make it hard on those who just want to serve their communities,” Sullivan said. “I may run as a candidate of a certain party, but I don’t represent that party; I’m here to act as a trustee for all of the people in the township.”

Clerk Paula Dudiak, who cast the lone dissenting vote on the motion, noted that the members of the Park Board run as nonpartisans.

“So our township is currently split as to how names of candidates appear on the ballot, and there’s a lot to think about.

Trustee Bill Marske noted that a nonpartisan was basically running as an independent.

It was the consensus of the members that many of those who participate in elections experience “voter fatigue” by the time they near the end of the ballot, and Bunte said he would like to see the names of nonpartisan candidates at the top of the ballot rather than near the bottom. Another option suggested was to have the names of candidates with party affiliations and nonpartisan candidates rotated on the ballot on a regular basis.

In other business, at the request of police chief Todd Taylor there was a unanimous vote of approval on a motion to approve the Police Department Policies and Procedures manual.

Also on the agenda, a resolution to adopt the Community Emergency Service Articles of Incorporation as requested by Medic 1, the ambulance service that provides coverage to the township, received unanimous consent.

It was announced that Board members along with other interested members of the community would be taking a bus tour of medical marijuana dispensaries in Kalamazoo and Portage.

Finally, responding to an inquiry by Lakeside resident Paul Lat about plans for repair work on Red Arrow Highway and other roads, Bunte said that the township’s Road Millage funds were only used to repair local roads and not primary roads such as the highway that were under the jurisdiction of the Berrien County Road Department.

There are ten local Chikaming roads slated for repair in 2019, and the names of those roads as well as the types of repair work scheduled to be done, and that information may be found by accessing the chikamingtownship.org website.

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