For the first time in many years, there is a race for Clerk in Novesta Township. Bob Dickson has challenged incumbent Joann Peters (fka Tauber) for the position. Mr. Dickson has placed several ads in local newspapers where he indicates he is “For all the people”, thus implying that I (Joann Peters) am not “For all the people”. This is simply not true. Representing “all the people” means having the ability to see and understand all sides of any issue.
The primary and probably most important duty a township clerk is responsible for is running elections. I have held this position since 2008. Since that time, I have gone to Lansing to obtain access to the State of Michigan Qualified Voter File software. This program is essential to maintaining Novesta Township’s voter registration files. In addition, when HAVA (Help Americans Vote Act) funding became available to purchase electronic pollbook computers (at no cost to townships), I immediately went to Lansing again for extensive training. Both of these programs were offered as options for townships. Both have proved to be invaluable tools for maintaining our voter registration rolls and have eased the voting process tremendously. Following the 2010 General Election when a recount was requested, many townships’ votes were unable to be counted by the State as there were errors in sealing, etc. I have always been very proud to say that Novesta Township’s votes were ale to be counted. I do not take all the credit for this myself, as credit is also due to the great group of people who work as precinct inspectors for Novesta Township. Their keen eye to detail and willingness to take the extra time to insure the proper outcome is achieved is invaluable. In addition, Novesta Township has consistently received high praise from the County Board of Canvassers for the quality of our efforts after each election. Leadership is much simpler when you have willing and dedicated people to lead.
Township government is run by strict statutes. A township board cannot just do what they wish. I have an Associate’s degree in Legal Assisting, which I graduated with high honors. Although this is certainly not mandatory for a township clerk, it does help me to understand the laws pertaining to township government. Although Mr. Dickson is also well versed in township law, he does not always fully understand the implications. There have been times when the board has had to refer to the township attorney for answers to specific questions, that Mr. Dickson has not accepted the answer from the attorney, who specializes in township law.
Mr. Dickson attends all board meetings, this is admirable, were it not for the fact that because he attends the meetings, Mr. Dickson feels that he, not the elected board members, represents the township’s residents’ interests. I have heard throughout the years from several people that they do not attend board meetings due to Mr. Dickson’s behavior. He consistently interrupts the proceedings, answers questions (in error) posed by other audience members to board members, interrupts other audience members while they are speaking, and argues with other audience members. At a time when many people want to become involved with their government, Mr. Dickson makes it very difficult for that involvement in Novesta Township.
When Mr. Dickson speaks “For all the people” much of that is due to township ordinances which he feels are too restrictive to individual rights. For the most part, he has the most issue with the Blight Ordinance. I would suggest to anyone who has a question regarding this, take a drive down Shabbona Road west from Cemetery Road. You can’t miss his property on the south side of the road. If Mr. Dickson had his way, the entire township would be allowed to look like that. The township has fought for years with him over the blight to no avail and at a tremendous cost to the township. Another fundamental duty of the township clerk is maintenance of township records. Novesta Township does not have facilities to house township offices. As with many rural townships, township officials work out of their homes. This does involve keeping a certain amount of township records on site. In addition, there are times when people have come to the township official’s home office in order to conduct township business. Mr. Dickson lacks that offering. In the event Mr. Dickson was elected to the position, it would force the township to create an office in which Mr. Dickson could work. As this would be considered a governmental building, it would have to be to code, etc. This would be a great expense to the township. While certainly at some point it would be advantageous for Novesta Township to have a township hall, I don’t believe it should be predicated to one person holding an office.
I feel that due to my experience, knowledge and education, I am the best person for the position of Novesta Township Clerk. I have worked very hard to learn as much as I can about township government and still work to learn more. I respectfully and humbly ask you for your vote on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. I look forward to four more years of representing the people of Novesta Township.
Joann M. Peters