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Know Your Candidates

Know Your Candidates

This is volume 2 of our Get to Know Your Candidates Newsletter!  We want all of our supporters to get to know the Democratic candidates running for Local, State and National offices.  So, we will be sending you Candidate Bios and event announcements a couple of times a month.  
We want our entire membership to be as informed as possible and to use this information to help educate others. The more you know the more convincing you can be when persuading your friends and neighbors to vote for Democrats! 

We have a Democratic County Commissioner Candidate running for all 7 Districts in Leelanau County!  What a great opportunity to effect change at the County Level!This month, we are featuring the following County Commissioner Candidates:
George Bowers – District 1
John Hunter – District 2
Ty Wessell – District 4

Last month we featured the following County Commissioner Candidates:
Lois Bahle – District 3
Gwenne Allgaier – District 6 
Julie Morris – District 7

George Bowers 

Candidate District 1 County Commissioner
I’m a proud Michigan native, having grown up in the Detroit metro area, and attended University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy and Wayne State University. At 23, I purchased my first home, a cooperative townhouse that was one of 200 units. There I held the elected position of treasurer for three years. I began my career in horticulture, working in commercial indoor plant management.
After 30 years in Detroit, my wife and I moved to Hawaii’s Big Island, where we started a family and spread new roots. Trained in compliance for organic entities for their USDA organic certification, I began a career in organic management. I owned Strictly Organics for 16 years, inspecting and consulting for innumerable operations and managing vanilla and coffee farms.When Mauna Kea’s volcanic eruption meant seeking cleaner air, the choice to return to Michigan was clear. We returned to the Mitten in 2018, this time to Northern Michigan for its natural beauty, quality schools, and small communities. In Greilickville, we found the ideal house in a picturesque setting. It’s a thrill to see our boys, now 13 and 16, experiencing Michigan life. Having worked in Leelanau county cherry farming, I just recently began my own small organic farm in Elmwood Township. Looking to the future for my children and for all of us, I would be honored to represent my community sensibly and fairly. 
 My name is John Hunter and I am running for the Leelanau County Commissioner’s seat in District 2, representing Elmwood Precinct 2 and Bingham Precinct 1.

But, in my view we are one people in one county. It shouldn’t be so difficult to champion for, and while being fiscally responsible to, the common good at the county level. Without forward thinking having a representative voice on the Board of Commissioners, progress and momentum comes to a halt and whatever small, positive gains that may have been made, evaporate. 

For too long partisanship has held Leelanau County mired in its past instead of embracing its future. Exploring new technologies, new processes and new efficiencies should be the primary goal of a county commissioner, yet some are quite content with the status quo and have set no goals at all.

A county commissioner should have a dual role. The first should concentrate on building our value from the ground up, and secondly, provide an access to opportunity for all who live and work in Leelanau County.

I will support sustainable economic development, increased stewardship of our environment and resources, expanded infrastructure improvements, our seniors, and moving forward to find workable solutions addressing the housing needs of those who work in Leelanau County. This coming election will decide if we are to be a stronger community and a stronger county. I hope you will join me on this journey to improve the quality of life for all Leelanau County residents.
Ty WessellDistrict 4 Leelanau County CommissionerFirst-elected in 2014 and  
re-elected in 2016 & 2018
Thank You for the opportunity to serve as County Commissioner since 2014.  I have enjoyed serving as a Commissioner and having the opportunity to represent the County on the Housing Action Committee, Northern Lakes Community Mental Health Board, Networks Northwest Board, Substance Abuse Coalition, Sr. Services Advisory Committee, Parks & Recreation Commission and the County’s Finance & Audit Committee.  My priorities continue – Civil discourse, responsible fiscal management, environmental stewardship, early childhood/family services, senior services, family housing, and community partnerships.  

Georgie MurrayLeelanau Township Board 
Trustee Candidate
Why me? Why now?I am a nurse, grandmother and mother who feels compelled to step up and do my part. We enjoy an extraordinary lifestyle in Leelanau County. That lifestyle, people’s livelihood and life itself is threatened by the global pandemic that we know all too well as COVID-19. Despite the nimble and aggressive response from our Governor and her team, Michigan is literally in the cross hairs of national political focus due to those encouraged to object because of their perceived loss of civil liberty. Those objections only serve to distract from the very real fight at hand. We need to survive this virus physically and fiscally. No small order. One thing is certain, we will forever have a new normal.Now is the time to begin to address what life will look like on the other side of this pandemic. We need local, State and national leaders who are prepared to do the heavy lifting. Now, more than ever, we know that quality healthcare is a right, not a privilege. We need leaders who support science and use it to do their best in keeping people safe and healthy.Local issues still matter. Northport and Leelanau Township have been recognized as progressive entities for many things:Good stewards of the environment: dark sky initiative, protecting the bay from run off pollution, new recycling center, composting toilets at Peterson Park, installation of village sewer system·Renewable energy achievements: placement of wind turbine and solar panels to provide approximately 50% of the power to the wastewater treatment site, the first 100% solar powered golf course in Michigan (5th in the nation), installation of the first free electric vehicle chargers on the Leelanau Peninsula (2 Tesla, 1 universal)·Care and service to its citizens: new ambulance, more EMTs, 911 and cellular service upgrades, new walking/hiking paths, new 2-mile road-shoulder bike pathThat being said, there is still much to be done. We need to work to strengthen the social safety net for those newly out of work and those who have shuttered their businesses, who find themselves with little money, food or health insurance.  We need to do so without forgetting about the environment, the continued need for seasonal laborers, affordable housing and opportunities for responsible growth in our region. If these issues are your issues, then I am your candidate for Leelanau Township Trustee. Thank you for your care and concern for our region and its people. Safeguarding it, and them, preserves this very special place for our children, grandchildren and generations yet to come.

Stay safe and be well! 

Gina Harder, Candidate for Leelanau Township Trustee
I am running for Leelanau Township Trustee in order to take an active role in both preserving and enhancing this paradise in which we live. 
What makes it paradise?  What needs preserving?
Spectacular views, the crystal-clear lakes, pristine beaches, orchards, vineyards, hills, woods, trails, wild flowers, birds, fish and other wildlife.  There is nothing better than breathing in the clean fresh air, listening to the frogs, and watching a starlit sky in Leelanau Township.
There is a sense of community and tranquility here that is beyond comparison.  Non-profit organizations and Senior Services are an integral part of the community.  People help others by providing rides to appointments, delivering groceries or meals, and “checking in” with a visit or phone call.  We even have organized group dining allowing us to meet new and old friends while patronizing local restaurants.  The people here are genuinely friendly.  On a daily basis, one gets lots of smiles and waves.  A sense of fun and humor is pervasive, as is an appreciation of the Arts. There is overwhelming participation at Northport’s festivities, including the dog parade, car show, Uncaged, Music in the Park, Community Band/Chorus performances, etc. Omena also holds many social and educational events, both planned and impromptu.  The Mayoral race of Omena elects favorite pets as Mayor and Village Council, producing the most “beloved “local Governments.
The Leelanau Township law enforcement service has done a great job keeping crime extremely low.  The sense of security is another treasured asset.
I began spending summer vacations in Omena nearly 2 decades ago and quickly fell in love with the area.  My partner and I hoped (someday) we would be able to live here to enjoy the rest of our lives.  In 2011, we purchased the family home and property in Omena. In 2014, construction began on our forever home. I was fortunate to retire in 2016, just in time to move into our completed home.   Since then, we’ve lived here year-round and we absolutely love it!
How can we enhance paradise?
Health care:  With no hospitals or health clinics remaining in the Township, we need to continually assess to make sure medical needs are met.  Thankfully, we have great EMS service. I will be an advocate to ensure that their equipment and personnel remain cutting edge. Health emergencies require a rapid response and advanced “emergency room level” care during the (30 minute) transport to Traverse City. 
Maintenance of parks, trails, beaches, and roads:  I will work to make sure our resources are preserved with the most environmentally conscious long-term solutions.
Support of farmers and businesses:  Seasonal fluctuation in population presents many challenges.  During the winter, and especially during the global pandemic, our restaurants and other businesses are struggling. 
Attracting more year-round residents is one solution.  Moderately priced housing may bring more skilled trades personnel to the Township.  This could also help support our farmers.  I am a strong advocate for US grown foods and manufactured products.  My family and friends are involved in cherry farming in Leelanau Township. 
 I understand the plight of the Cherry growers and realize all farmers have multiple challenges.  I will investigate and support ways to assist farmers and local businesses without changing the charming character of our Township. 
Transparent, responsible financial management:  Our property tax income is limited due to our population size.  The current sewer system consumes a significant proportion of our Township budget.  The community did not endorse a millage for the sewer.  We must find alternate ways to raise funds to put this debt behind us.  We need to explore and exhaust all avenues for Grant funding from the State and elsewhere.  Sewer connection and service must also be affordable so more homes will contribute to costs.  The “sewer issue” is a “funding issue”.  Let’s think about ways to generate funds so our tax dollars can be spent on the expressed needs and priorities of the community.  Our beautiful parks and trails need some restoration.  The Library may need updating.  Our Township expenditures should be supported with budgeted funds.  More visibility and community input regarding the budget are needed.
Reliable, high-speed internet is necessary to support business, in-home offices, as well as current communication and entertainment practices.  If more people can work from home, more can live in the peninsula.  I am willing to do whatever is possible to give us better internet options throughout the Township.
Preparation for the future:  In order to preserve our ecology, we must continue to support and build upon clean energy, recycling, and environmental stewardship. I will work with the planning commission and community to update our plan for the future.  
What skills/traits/experience do I bring to the Township Board?
As a former scientific consultant, I am trained to research multiple aspects of questions for evidence-based decision making.  I respect different ideas and have been successful gaining consensus among dissimilar personalities.  I am deeply committed to environmental preservation.  I am a good listener who makes thoughtful, fiscally responsible decisions.   I will increase community awareness and encourage involvement in Township decisions.  The Trustee is a representative of the people of Leelanau Township.  I intend to be a voice for the Residents. I have experience representing a large group of homeowners (over 100 homes) within a Township.  Some of the issues I worked on were:  improving the health of a large inland lake, facilitating sewer services expansion to the neighborhood, updating the subdivision parks, boat launch and docking areas.  I negotiated agreements with the Township to allow homeowners (with good functioning septic systems) the option to remain on their current system or participate in the sewer service at the time of their choosing.  I would develop two-way communication and build more confidence in Township management.  As mentioned previously, I want to preserve and enhance our Township.  I believe it is important to always keep preservation in mind while making positive changes.  Living here is wonderful, let’s keep it that way!
Central Michigan University Bachelor of Science (pre-Med):  Major – Biology,
Minor – Marketing
Wayne State University Master’s Program – Microbiology & Immunology
Career Highlights:
Microbiologist – G.D. Searle, NutraSweet, the Stroh Brewery Company
Medical Science Consultant, Associate Director, Medical Affairs – Merck & Co. (retired)
Current Volunteer Work:
Instructor, Science Committee Member – Inland Seas Education Association
Board Member, House and Grounds Chair – Omena Historical Society
Driver- ShareCare
Grounds Committee Co-Chair – property of a local organization

Allison for Bingham Township Trustee
Townships are as local as you can get.  They are the eyes and ears, the most equipped to know and respond- they are our neighbors.  I am running for Bingham Township Trustee for that reason.  I believe that when my neighbors do well, everyone benefits.  When our township does well we contribute to a vibrant and livable county.   And a Leelanau County wherein people’s experiences are listened to and their basic needs are ensured is one where it is possible to thrive.  I am committed to being a good steward of my neighbors’ trust and our shared resources.  For me, that means employing my values and skills as a social worker to learn about and vote in the interests of our township.
I’ve been a licensed master’s level clinical social worker for seven years and have been fortunate to partner with individuals and families in a variety of settings- child welfare, emergency shelter, outpatient, and school.  I have also had the privilege of generous mentor-ship in the field of public health.
I have deep roots in the Midwest. I was born in the Hoosier state and lived in Oregon for 5 years, following a year in Northern Michigan after college.  I earned my graduate degree in social work and moved back to Indiana, where I’ve spent the last 10 years practicing in my chosen field and feeling more and more drawn to Leelanau County.  My husband and I moved to Bingham Township in March of 2019 and have enjoyed and appreciated the chance to make this our home. 
[email protected]

Nicola Philpot for Cherryland Electric Board
(Pictured with Mike & Mindy Binsfeld at a solar installation.)
Just a reminder that if you are a Cherryland Electric customer, voting for the Cherrryland Board has opened.  Last year, Nicola Philpott ran an aggressive race and lost by only a few votes!  In addition to being a Phd research scientist, Nicola has a long history of working to combat climate change and is also an activist for renewable energy.  She would be a very competent addition to the Cherryland Board would also bring new and much needed perspective to the Board’s discussions.
You can go here to cast your vote: 
P.O. Box 215
Empire, MI  49630
[email protected]

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