THREE OAKS — Voters in Three Oaks face the following choices in the Nov. 3 General Election

Three Oaks Village President

Tom Flint said one of the first things that the new Village Council President will have to work toward is to unify our village.

"This election and the events preceding it surrounding the introduction of marijuana businesses to the community has caused a rift. Integrating those new businesses into the community while addressing the infrastructure issues it will create is going to be a big challenge for the Village Council. My ability to listen to people with differing views and to bring people to consensus will help this to happen more smoothly."

Flint said he is not new to the village.

"People know me and they know how hard I’ve worked to become an informed member of this community. I’ve worked on the Flag Day Parade, the Sesquicentennial Committee, I’ve helped our DDA to research water fountains, and I’ve raised my hand to volunteer every time an opening has occurred on the Village Council or a committee. I firmly believe that we have a responsibility to take part in the community in which we live. I take that responsibility very seriously and that’s why I’ve decided to run for the President of the Village Council."

Flint said he has a bachelors degree in business and psychology, and spent his career in retail management.

"I’ve managed businesses that grossed more than $10 million and supervised over 30 employees. I retired 10 years ago and moved permanently to Three Oaks where I’ve had a home for 13 years. One of the benefits of my retirement is that I’ve had the time to serve other people and my community through different charitable outlets. I’m a believer that to whom much is given, much is expected — and I’ve always expected a great deal from myself."

Flint said he's always been one to raise his hand and step forward to make the community a better place.

"I’m running for Village Council President because I’ve worked hard for years to understand the issues from all sides. And I have the relevant experience to lead the Council in running this village effectively."

Richard Smith said if elected he hopes to bring the community together.

"We need to stop the divisiveness that has harmed our sense of 'community.' I want to focus on the improvement of our water quality and improved sewer needs, as well as improvements to the sidewalks and roads."

Smith said he is running for Village President because he wants to serve the people that make Three Oaks such a great place to raise a family.

"Serving is what makes us human, it gives us purpose."

Smith said he has worked for Whirlpool Corporation for over 29 years in Customer Service, Service Engineering, Product Safety Testing, and in his current role as Data Analyst for Global Product Safety.

"I have been on the Three Oaks Planning Commission for the last year, and I serve as President of the Deacon Board at Woodland Shores Baptist Church in Bridgman."

Village Council (3 seats will be filled)

Tyler Ream said he was born and raised 20 miles from Three Oaks in Michigan City, and moved to Southwest Michigan over ten years ago and my wife, Jennifer, and I purchased a home in the Village of Three Oaks 5 years ago. I come from a family of small business owners. I’ve been working in the craft beer industry in SW MI for the past 7 years and have been in multiple leadership roles therein. I’ve never lived in a big city, but Jennifer and I love traveling and visiting big cities around the world. I’ve been on the Village Parks and Recreation board for the last year and regularly attend Village Council, DDA, and Planning commission meetings.

I aim to increase communication between our Village Council and Three Oaks residents. Residents shouldn’t have to attend every meeting to know what’s going on. I’ll help make sure agendas for upcoming meetings and minutes for past meetings are readily available to everyone. And when big decisions are being made, I’ll encourage the council to go extra lengths to inform residents and get their input. 

I plan to help bring our waste water issue to a close by working directly with Quentin Clark, our Water & Sewer Superintendent, and meeting in person with folks at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

Our sidewalks are in dire need of repair and I’m prepared to address this issue with the council and solidify a plan to replace them block by block. 

Outside of these goals, preserving the historic Village of Three Oaks, finding creative solutions to produce more affordable housing, and encouraging all of our residents and business owners to work together are topics at the forefront of my mind. We have an incredible mix of Three Oaks natives and transplants from all over that together make our Village great and prosperous. Three Oaks is a wonderful place to both raise a family and retire and I aim to keep it that way. Let’s all get out and vote!

Joe Hinman said he wants to increase communication and transparency between village governance and village residents. There is always a lot more going on around us than we realize, and I will use my position to help facilitate the conversations that keep us connected, grounded and informed. I will do my homework and stay engaged with community, pushing the collective effort forward. Whether it's improving infrastructure, quality and accessibility of public spaces, supporting downtown commerce, my main goal will always be to provide for the common welfare of Three Oaks. 

Hinman said Three Oaks was a wonderful place to grow up, and has proven to be an equally nice place to build a life. The stories and memories I've made living here have been made possible by people willing to step up and do the work. Whether that means the Village Council, the many volunteers that serve on our various committees, or people working with organizations that aid the people of our village. My parents were always active in the community, with church, the PTA, Little League, and they worked with other parents to give their kids good childhoods. It's my time to step up into the right position and do my part to build a community where people can make new stories and memories. 

Hinman said he was born and raised in Three Oaks and has lived in the village for almost 7 years. I went to Grand Valley State University for a degree in broadcasting, but have been working in the craft beer industry for the past 10 years. Currently I brew beer at Ghost Isle Brewery in New Buffalo. As part of my job, I've dealt with several levels of bureaucracy, so I have plenty of experience with red tape and minutiae. I have experience with local organizing, collaboration and activism. I serve on several committees at Three Oaks United Methodist Church, and work with the Southwest Michigan Interfaith Action, which provides education and outreach programs, collection drives and local aid to the greater Berrien County area. My best qualification is my ability to listen and empathize, to hear the needs of residents and do what I can to provide for them.  

Also on the Nov. 3 ballot are incumbents John Kramer, John Pappa and Troy Zebell (their responses to election preview questions will be added if received)

River Valley School Board

John Pawlik said his top priority remains an intelligent response to the COVID-19 pandemic that optimizes student learning and ensures safety for all RV stakeholders including students, staff, parents/guardians, family and anyone visiting our facilities.

"Given our location near the Michigan/Indiana line, I encourage and have helped implement more cross-border communication. To that end, I have supported mask use by almost all students. I endorse all students having remote access to online resources via a school-issued device. I also encourage tracing and personalized guidance for students who are not participating well in their in-person or remote learning."

Pawlik said facilities optimization is another priority.

"Although RV has made great progress in physical improvement of our campuses, more remains to be done. Recent changes in Michigan legislation enable districts to use some sinking fund revenues for technology — I support that. I also support a thorough, professional engineering evaluation of our facilities including projected demographics and student enrollment — so that dollars are wisely spent."

He said the current superintendent and staff have done a great job during this pandemic.

"ABC-57 (South Bend) featured River Valley in its ongoing series on schools coping with Covid-19. I was very proud to see the dedication of teachers AND students. RV will soon have a new middle school/high school guidance counselor. I support and encourage the new guidance counselor to promote learning that best fits the individual student. That includes shared learning with other districts, Advanced Placement classes and the Early College Program – which grants high school and associate college degrees in five years. A great savings device for families combined with a very good education."

Pawlik said he has BS, MBA and JD degrees and has been involved in education matters professionally since 1979.

"I have been pro-bono counsel to and board member of the Michigan Association for Gifted Children. I served as RV Board President for four years and had stable, balanced budgets during tenure. I drafted and implemented a Board policy requiring fund balance constraints to ensure fiscal responsibility. I was a Research Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania in a joint enterprise of the School of Education and the Wharton School. I was an adjunct assistant professor at Glassboro State University (NJ) – now Rowan University. I am the only candidate having the following Michigan Association of School Boards credentials: Certified Board Member (30 credits) and Award of Merit (50 credits needed, 90 completed)."

Nikki Springer said her top goal in running for River Valley School Board is to increase the public knowledge regarding the role of the school board. 

"My second goal would be to help set the policies that will attract students to River Valley, and continue to expand the educational opportunities available within the district."

Springer sad she feels it is important that River Valley School Board members have a vested interest in the district. 

"I believe in River Valley and therefore, my children have attended RV since pre-school. Our oldest is a 2020 graduate and our youngest is a current sophomore. We are currently hosting our second exchange student in our home, who also attends River Valley."

Springer said she has been involved in numerous activities in both River Valley Schools and in the community of Three Oaks, such as room parent, PTO, teacher interview committee, strategic planning sessions, class chaperone, President of River Valley Fast Pitch Softball, volunteer with the Three Oaks American Legion Post 204, and President of the River Valley High School Softball Boosters.  

"I believe in being dependable, loyal, and honest.  I try to always conduct myself with integrity, and to be a role model for not only my children, but for all children. I believe if you are going to commit to something, you should commit fully. For this reason, when I was encouraged to run for the School Board, I began researching my duties in order to contribute as effectively as possible. I intend to complete the continuing education needed to become a certified board member through the Michigan Association of School Boards."

As a graduate of Galien High School, I have felt the pain of a school district no longer existing.  My greatest hope in running for the School Board is to make sure that River Valley does not suffer the same fate.  I feel I have the skills needed to be an effective and contributing member of the board.  It is important to be civic minded, student focused, and willing to polish the skills needed to be impactful.  I also feel my experience working as part of multiple teams, and my willingness to speak up and advocate for our children, will be needed in this role.  

I have been married to my husband, Mike, for almost 25 years. We have always lived in Three Oaks. We have two daughters, Emma and Macey.  I have worked as an Occupational Therapist for 25-plus years, and have specialized in pediatrics.

If elected, I will always make River Valley my priority.

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