Four run for two seats in Wells Township

James Kratz, Wells Township
James Kratz, Wells Township

Four candidates are vying for two trustee positions on the Wells Township Board of Trustees in Tuesday’s election.

The seats are currently filled by Wells Township Board Trustees Jim Kratz and Richard Witkovsky.

Candidates are incumbent Kratz, and challengers Lorraine Hergenreder, Lori Zawerucha and Ronda Benjamin. Hergenreder and Benjamin are both former township treasurers.

Witkovsky isn’t seeking re-election this term because of health issues.

Supervisor Melvin Witkovsky, Clerk Karen Varney and Treasurer Pat Gettel are also all running uncontested.

Kratz, 54, said he believes he brings a different perspective to the board because he understands residents from his work as a farmer and as district administrator for the Tuscola Conservation District. The conservation district manages natural resources  through education or conservation practices.

Road maintenance and improvements are the biggest issues Kratz said the township’s facing.

“We’re working with residents and county commissioners,” said Kratz. “We’re trying to make things safe in the township. We’re limited by budget but we have a fair amount of gravel roads and unfortunately we really can’t afford to pave them.”

This would be Kratz’s third term on the board after being elected in 2008 with 33 percent of the vote, coming in second to Richard Witkovsky.

Kratz said he didn’t have many accomplishments to list during his tenure except his work with the board in getting a bridge installed just east of the township hall on Frankfort Road and roadway upkeep.

“The board has done a great job so far in those issues and others,” he added.

Kratz will compete with three other challengers, including two former board members and one resident.

He said he isn’t fazed to have a smaller chance of winning because many township residents already know who he is and if he does lose, he said he “won’t call the election rigged.”

Ronda Benjamin served on the the board one term as township treasurer after winning 97 percent of votes in 2008.

The Advertiser reached out to Benjamin to ask her why she chose to run and what were her major concerns in this coming election. Benjamin said she did not want to be interviewed by The Advertiser because she didn’t want any publicity.

Benjamin did give one quote and said, “It’s just important to have people there (in office) who want to fix it. I just found an opening and ran with it.”

Hergenreder, 80, served as treasurer for eight years before giving up the position to spend more time with her grandchildren.

“I chose to run because I feel the township is an important spot to be in,” she said. “I feel we have a good township and we have a good township board and I could be part of it.”

Hergenreder said she had been going to a few township board meetings to stay informed and realized the township roads are in need of maintenance.

She said the roads need to be fixed but the cost is too high. If elected, she said she would try to seek help from Tuscola County Road Commission.

Being pitted against seasoned board members like herself, Hergenreder said it wouldn’t matter who won because all are good candidates for voters to choose.

“Our township is a good township, you don’t see in the paper,” said Hergenreder. “I think they’re all good people and I think they will be an asset to the board. I was on the board before and was on the township for a while, and if they elect me I would like to be on the board again.”

Zawerucha is the lone candidate without board experience. Zawerucha, 63, is a retired information technology worker for the Michigan Department of Transportation and has lived in the county since 1966. Lori Zawerucha, Wells Township

Zawerucha said she chose to run because she didn’t think there was anyone available to campaign for the position and wanted to ensure Wells Township remains a safe place for residents to reside, raise children and live a happy, healthy retired life.

“Wells Township is a good place to live,” said Zawerucha. “The people who live here – it’s a nice rural area but it’s close to things people need. It’s a nice rural life.”

Issues raising concern with Zawerucha are township roads – such as Dayton, Lee Hill and Hurds Corner roads – and blighted areas.

Like Kratz, Zawerucha said she is not concerned with the competition because she believes all candidates are competent enough to do the job. If she doesn’t win, she said she will find ways to keep herself busy.

“I’m just trying to step up and do my civic duty.”

As of October, Wells Township has 1,248 registered voters.

Debanina Seaton is a reporter for The Advertiser and can be reached at debanina@tcadvertiser.com

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