Voters could shake up Ellington Township board

Ellington Township board members from left to right, Joddy Ehrenberg, Diane Wilder, Duane Lockwood, Patrick Price, Mike Wagoner. (File photo)
Ellington Township board members from left to right, Joddy Ehrenberg, Diane Wilder, Duane Lockwood, Patrick Price, Mike Wagoner. Only Wilder responded to a request to interview to talk about why she should be reelected. (File photo)

Ellington Township officials and citizens have taken each other to task since the beginning of 2016, but it’s township voters who will have the loudest voice when heading to vote Tuesday.
Several races could change the make-up of the board:
• Duane Lockwood, longtime incumbent supervisor, is being challenged by newcomer Russell Speirs. Speirs beat Lockwood soundly in the August primary as both ran as Republicans, and Lockwood has since filed as a write-in candidate.
• Diane Wilder, longtime incumbent treasurer, faces Carmell Pattullo in that race. Wilder lost to Pattullo in the August primary, where both ran as Republicans. Wilder also is running as a write-in candidate.
• Joddy Ehrenberg, incumbent clerk, is being challenged by newcomer Bobbie Mozden (see clerks story, A1).
• Trustees Mike Wagoner and Patrick Price are incumbents seeking re-election but challenger Gregg Campbell looks to unseat at least one of them.
Lockwood, Ehrenberg, Wagoner, and Price were given the opportunity to participate in an interview with The Advertiser, but did not respond.
Wilder said she should remain treasurer because she’s been doing it for more than 20 years and served as deputy treasurer for 15 years before that.
In August, she told The Advertiser she has “extensive experience with the BSA tax software system, tax procedures, due dates for taxes and forms. Knowledge of current and changing Michigan property tax laws such as PRE, qualified forest, qualified Ag, veterans’ exemptions, poverty exemptions and deferments.”
“I have knowledge of the different state forms, we do all of our own tax forms, we don’t hire that out,” Wilder said, adding that part of the appeal of the position for her is that she enjoys bookkeeping and meeting and serving residents.
Wilder said she works for Tuscola County, but did not want to provide specifics.
“I’ve lived in the township most of my life and come from a background of public service,” she said.
Wilder said “at first, it was a shock” when Pattullo beat her in the August primary, and that she initially accepted defeat. However, she changed her mind later.
“I realized more that I do not believe that she is prepared for the office,” Wilder said. “To me, it was important to run as a write-in because I don’t believe that they are there for the overall welfare of the township.”
Wilder said Pattullo is only concerned with wind energy.
Not true, Pattullo said.
“I’m ready to serve my community,” Pattullo said. “I’m not going to sit and let someone else do it anymore.”
Carmell Pattullo, along with husband, Mike Pattullo, have been regulars at Ellington Township meetings since late 2015, often expressing concern over how current elected officials have handled review of the township’s wind ordinance in light of a $200 million wind turbine project planned for part of Ellington Township. They are also part of the group known as the Ellington-Almer Concerned Citizens.
Though the wind issue may have brought them out to meetings, Carmell Pattullo said, it was what she saw happening that made her want to get more involved.
Pattullo has identified top issues as lack of communication, representation, and accountability by too many of our township officials.
“I have an open mind, but I don’t feel the three that we’ve had a lot of issues with primarily (Lockwood, Ehrenberg, Wilder) have an open mind,” Pattullo said.
Pattullo said her professional background includes payroll management at the former Thumb Office Supply in Caro.
Since the August primary, Pattullo said she’s spent time meeting with other elected treasurers in the area, including Patricia Witkovsky, incumbent treasurer in Almer Township who is seeking re-election and running unopposed.
Like Pattullo, candidates Speirs and Campbell (both part of the concerned citizens group) were first drawn to Ellington Township meetings because of wind – and also look to up their level of involvement because of what they have witnessed.
“There are persons on the board who I once trusted and respected, I cannot claim that anymore,” Campbell told The Advertiser.
Speirs echoed similar sentiments.
“The problem is a lack of transparency, poor communication, and a self-serving attitude by some of the board members. Issues surrounding fire protection/budget seem to be reoccurring and I have recently heard a couple concerns about some gravel roads,” Speirs said.
More information about Speirs, Pattullo and Wilder can be found in questions they answered for The Advertiser at http://bit.ly/2an6h3W and http://bit.ly/2aKl6RP
Andrew Dietderich is editor of The Advertiser and can be reached at andrew@tcadvertiser.com

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