Nine Democrats are competing for three seats on the Sumpter Township Board of Trustees in the Aug. 6 primary election.
The positions were appointed, after the deaths of Treasurer Alan Bates and Clerk Clarence Hoffman, when officials were assigned to these posts. The election in November will fill the seats until 2020.
The positions open are treasurer, clerk, and trustee.
Running for treasurer are incumbent Peggy Morgan, Ken Bednark, and Ronald Barrington Robinson. The winner of the August Democratic primary will be on the ballot unopposed in November.
Running for clerk are incumbent Esther Hurst, Sheena Barnes (who presently is an appointed trustee), and Toni Clark. The winner of the August Democratic primary will be on the ballot unopposed in November.
Running for trustee are Antoine Jordan, Jay W. Bardell, II, and Kit Denice Dewyer.
Jennifer Price had filed for trustee, but told the Independent she decided not to run after all, making that decision after the deadline, so her name will appear on the ballot. She said, “I STRONGLY support Esther Hurst for clerk and Ken Bednark for treasurer. Embarrassingly enough, there is not a Democrat on the ballot for Sumpter Township trustee that I support at this time.”
The winner of the Democratic primary for trustee will face Republican Tim Rush, who will be unopposed on the Republican part of the ballot in both August and November.
Also, Andrew Slovik, with no party affiliation, will be on the November ballot as a candidate for trustee.
The candidates on the August ballot answered questions on a form sent to them by the Independent and here are their stories.
CANDIDATES FOR TREASURER
Peggy Morgan, 59, of 46330 Claxton Drive, was appointed treasurer in February 2017 and has served as treasurer since then. Before being appointed treasurer, she served as an elected trustee from November 2004 through January 2017.
“I took an interest in our community long before being elected in 2004,” she said. “In fact, I attended board meetings for nearly ten years prior to running for office.
“I also served on the Sumpter Township Board of Review, the Economic Development Committee, and volunteered for the Neighborhood Watch in the 1990s. I am the former liaison for Parks and Recreation and Sumpter Fire Department. Currently, I am the Water Department liaison. I am a member of the Michigan Democratic Party, Sumpter Seniors, and Women of the Moose Chapter 1135.”
In 1977, Morgan graduated from Garden City East High School. After graduation, she attended Schoolcraft College where she was trained in Living Skills. She later took Nurse’s Aide training at Garden City Hospital. She participated in the RESA training for school bus driver and retired from Van Buren Public Schools after more than 20 years as a bus driver. She has completed the FEMA Emergency Management Institute courses IS-00700, National Incident Management System (NIMS) and IS-00800-A, National Response Plan (NRP).
She has been married to Richard E. (Bud) Morgan for 33 years and they have two sons, Richard E. II and David W., and four grandsons. She said she loves spending time with her family, playing with her four grandsons, and doing yard work. She is a big NASCAR and football fan, and also enjoys camping, hunting, and traveling with her family.
“I am running for office because I have lived in Sumpter Township for 33 years; this is my home and my children and grandchildren all live here. I want to continue to bring my leadership and vision to Sumpter Township, which is to build a brighter future for Sumpter’s working families like mine. I have character, integrity, and the leadership experience necessary to continue to move Sumpter Township forward.
“If elected, my list of goals are to prioritize road projects, ensure accountability, and to work tirelessly to deliver results for the hardworking taxpayers of Sumpter Township. I also intend to seek alternative revenue for our township, support job creation, support grants for family development, and support senior programs, as well as after-school programs.
“I promise to listen to all residents’ concerns, and will continue to represent all taxpayers and residents. I will persistently work hard to maintain Sumpter Township’s balanced budget, continue to keep the essential services that are in place now, and will always look for any suggestions to improve them.”
Kenneth Bednark, 62, of 18295 Savage Road, is running for treasurer in his first bid for elective office.
He has lived in Sumpter Township for 42 years and is retired after being a home builder, real estate investor, and planning consultant.
Bednark earned a master of science in Policy and Behavior at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; a bachelor of science cum laude in Urban Planning/Business Administration from Eastern Michigan University; and attended College of Law at the University of Toledo. He is a Michigan licensed Master Builder and Real Estate Broker and belongs to the American Institute of Certified Planners.
He is a commissioner on the Sumpter Zoning Board of Appeals and served as secretary on the Sumpter MMFLA Committee.
When asked why he is running for office, Bednark said:
“As your neighbor, I have heart and vision for our beloved Sumpter and seek to restore dignity and functionality to the office of treasurer. My regular board meeting attendance and committee participation has given me insight into the dynamics of Sumpter’s governance.
“The contentious attitude, flawed logic, and promotion of self-interests made it evident that there is a leadership void in the office of treasurer. We need a competent and mature treasurer that understands the statutory functions of the office and that puts community needs first. We need a representative that listens while respecting the viewpoints of residents and fellow board members.
“Our current appointed treasurer is campaigning for ‘Change in 2018,’ yet has been on the board for 14 years! The true change needed, at a minimum, is a new treasurer.”
As to goals and objectives, Bednark said: “Accountable: I will be fiscally responsible by keeping a transparent and balanced budget along with managing an accountable and friendly staff. I will ensure residents receive timely and accurate water/sewer service bills and will implement convenient internet payment options.
“Professional: I will treat everyone with the respect they deserve. I will facilitate community participation in township governance and promote board collaboration.
“Experienced: I will be a board liaison to the Building/Planning Department, Zoning Board of Appeals, and Planning Commission, as well as a tactful negotiator representing our township’s best interests at large. I will work with our police and fire departments to meet needs and with our ordinance officer to clean up blight.
“Dedicated: I will be working hard for residents by procuring county, state, and federal funding for infrastructure improvements and by finding solutions that increase our standard of living. I will be attentive to the needs of our growing senior community by providing funding for services and activities.
“Honest: I will be listening and reaching out to residents to advocate for them as their board representative. I will preserve our rural character, increase property values, and promote our parks and recreational opportunities.
“I will serve with integrity and would be honored by your vote,” Bednark concluded.
Ronald Barrington Robinson
Ronald Barrington Robinson, 333 Utah, has lived in Sumpter Township for 21 years. He is seeking the position of township treasurer.
He has a daughter, Taylor Robinson.
Robinson retired as a lieutenant after serving for 23 years with the Michigan Department of Corrections. He is a video producer at Comcast Cable Television of the “In My Opinion” show seen on Detroit public access channel 68, Flint public access channel 17 and Downriver channel 20.
He earned a Criminal Justice Degree from Mott College.
Robinson has run for office for president of the Lake Shore Community Block Club in Flint, the Flint City Council 7th Ward, vice president of the Flint Branch of the NAACP, Sumpter Township trustee, trustee of Southwestern Wayne County Democratic Club, and now is running for Sumpter treasurer.
He belongs to the NAACP, Southwestern Wayne County Democratic Club, and enjoys horseback riding, gardening, traveling, fishing, and cooking.
When asked why he is running for this office, Robinson replied: “Sumpter Township needs truth in honest government and democracy. Fiscal responsibility, integrity, and transparency are lacking in this current administration. I will work hard to restore these important values and accountability to and for the people of Sumpter Township, Michigan.”
As to goals once elected?
“I will work hard, honestly and tirelessly to restore a transparent government of and for the people that our township, Wayne County and the State of Michigan can be proud of and believe in.
“I have and will continue to reach out to companies large and small to locate their businesses to Sumpter Township. This will generate job opportunities for our residents and bring much-needed new revenue for Sumpter Township’s dwindling tax base. The township’s taxpayers cannot afford any more personal new taxes,” Robinson concluded.
CANDIDATES FOR CLERK
Esther Hurst, 63, 46323 Arkona Rd., is the incumbent appointed clerk running for election to the post.
She is a lifelong resident of Sumpter Township and the mother of two children, James and Jennifer. She is a high school graduate and unsuccessfully ran for clerk in the past.
Hurst was appointed trustee and then clerk. She enjoys quilting.
When asked why she is running for this office, Hurst replied: “I am the most qualified candidate with over 30 years in the clerk’s office as secretary and deputy clerk. I want to bring the office into the 21st Century by continuing to preserve the integrity of the election process and making the necessary updates.”
Her goals once elected? “Bring more business to Sumpter without losing the country atmosphere. Promote more senior activities and help the elderly. Make improvements to our parks for future generations. Explore ways to get grants to help funding. Continue to ensure the businesses within our township are compliant with our ordinance.”
Sheena Barnes, who has lived in Sumpter for more than 58 years, is the mother of three children: Julius III, Sharnice, and Jamarrea, and two grandchildren Ava and Julius IV. Sheena is the daughter of Louise Barnes and the late Nathaniel Barnes.
Her family ran a business, Nate Barnes Market, for more than 49 years. She is continuing the tradition with her own business, Sheena Barnes BBQ Bones.
“Growing up in a family business taught me honesty and integrity and to be a service to the community. Working along side my family instilled family values, faith, and love for my community. We were always encouraged to speak up for what’s right and strive to be the best you can be. My father always said, ‘If you are a street sweeper or a ditch digger, be the best one ever.’ Be of service to your community and help those who cannot help themselves.
“I am not afraid to be the voice of my community and speak truth to power. It is my goal to give my best service to the Sumpter Township residents as township clerk. In the words of Shirley Chisolm, first African-American woman to run for United States President ‘Unbought and Unbossed.'”
Barnes graduated from Airport High School and attended WWCCC, earning a CID in Trade Business.
She has been a resources coordinator for CAN Community Action, Student Advocate Center, Ann Arbor Housing Commission, Peace Neighborhood Center, and Pines Lake Community Center, all in Ann Arbor.
She was an art teacher for the Charter Township of Ypsilanti Department of Recreation and Detroit University Preparatory Academy Schools in Detroit.
She holds Michigan State University “Safe Food” certification and is the proud sponsor of Nate Barnes Tributes and Soul Roll Festivals.
Her goals are to get grants for family development, grants for after-school programs, coordinate and implement recreational programs, workshops and creative parenting sessions, and opioids mental health and mood disorders programs.
“I would like to have the opportunity to move Sumpter Township forward, get involved in public administrative township functions and the duties of the official in the office as a clerk officer and provide and implement quality leadership,” Barnes concluded.
Toni Clark, 63, 23623 Sumpter Road, has lived in Sumpter Township for 29 years and is married to Jim Clark.
She is a writer and retired from Ameritech after 18 years of service. She was a real estate agent for 10 years and had education as a surgical tech and in criminal justice.
Clark said she served as Sumpter Township Supervisor and assisted handling the bonding the township needed to avoid bankruptcy. She was appointed City of Inkster Clerk.
Clark belongs to the Moose and the Michigan Beekeepers Association.
When asked why she is running for clerk, Clark said: “I have the experience. I have been a deputy clerk in Sumpter Township, deputy clerk in Augusta Township, deputy supervisor in London Township and wrote a grant that was handled by the State of Michigan to redesign the building, sidewalks and doors, as well as the parking lot for handicap accessibility.”
As to goals once elected, Clark said: “To work with the board, to look for more opportunities to make the residents proud of their community.”
CANDIDATES FOR TRUSTEE
Jay W. Bardell, II
Jay W. Bardell, II, age 62, of 22161 Elwell Road, is running for trustee. He has lived in the township for 39 years and has a high school education and some college.
He and his wife Roxanne have raised four daughters, all of whom reside in the township. They also have five grandchildren.
“I enjoy farming, camping, fishing, gardening, and time spent with my family,” he said.
He previously ran unsuccessfully for trustee and supervisor in Sumpter Township. He was appointed to the Planning Commission.
“I am not a career politician,” Bardell said. “My concern is the community of Sumpter Township. I want the people to get their voices heard.
“Transparency, accountability, and an open-door policy are happening on day one. It’s time for fresh ideas, new perspectives, and change. It’s really time for a shake up in the township.
“We are behind the ball with community programs and new business. When elected, I promise the residents of Sumpter Township I will work hard for them and be their voice,” Bardell concluded.
Kit Denice Dewyer
Kit Denice Dewyer, 61, 40475 Harris, is running for trustee. She has lived in Sumpter Township for 18 years and is married to Sam Cumberledge.
She earned a bachelor of science in Planned Program/Education from Eastern Michigan University and a master of science in Gerontology/Programs and Services from EMU. She is an educator for the visually impaired and blind K-12.
This is her first bid for elective office.
She is a member of Retired Seniors Volunteer Program, Regional Transit Authority Citizens Advisory Committee, Wayne County Nutrition Project Advisory Council, Holiday Meals on Wheels, Focus Hope and Commodities, and After School Programs for Children at Risk.
Her hobbies are creating and sharing delicious recipes and photography.
When asked why she was running for this office, Dewyer said: “Sumpter Township has two populations that are under-served, and their safety and health are at risk whenever they enter or exit the senior center transportation.
“I plan to give a voice to and keep the seniors and individuals with disabilities safe while riding on Sumpter’s transportation.”
Asked if she had a goal once elected to office, Dewyer said: “Yes, I want the lift reattached to the senior van. This lift allows seniors and the disabled to enter and exit the van safely. At this time the individual has to step up on a wooden box that is void of a hand rail; the individual has to then reach into the van and pull themselves into the van. When exiting, the individual has to step out of the van backwards. Please keep in mind that these are seniors and individuals with leg braces, walkers, canes, and balance issues!
“Also, there is no transportation to and from the senior center on Fridays. Our coordinator is receiving full salary and benefits, although she only works four days per week. I want the coordinator’s salary and benefits to reflect that she is part-time. Sumpter hired a part-time driver, who assists the passengers safely on and off the transportation, and carries their packages in and out of their homes. The driver also waits for seniors that need no assistance, until the senior is safely in their home. I want this driver hired full time, and transport my seniors and individuals with disabilities on Fridays,” Dewyer concluded.
Antoine Jordan, age 34, 44946 Judd Road, was born and raised in Sumpter Township.
He said his number-one goal is to be entrusted to take care of township property and money for the benefit of township inhabitants.
He is a 2002 graduate of Belleville High School and has a bachelor of science in Business Administration from Central Michigan University. He acquired his master’s degree in Business Administration with a specialization in Human Resources which led him to spend a major part of his career developing professionals and increasing team member productivity.
“A career focused on making process leaner and training and development has given me the knowledge skills and abilities needed to increase efficiency to make many businesses thrive,” he said. “I’d like to use that same skill set and apply it to the position of township trustee, focusing on growing and developing our town to reach overall master plan objectives and township short-term goals.
“Locals may know me as Coach Buck,” Jordan said. “I’ve spent the past few years leading the Junior Varsity Basketball program at Belleville High School. I am currently the head of fundraising for basketball programs, 7th-varsity level. This involves setting up youth leagues, tournaments, camps, and many other activities to better the program.
“Through these sorts of activities I have been able to touch our youth of all ages. I am also a member of Spiritual Israel Church and Its Army. This church membership has also been rooted in Sumpter Township for more than the 34 years I have been alive living in Sumpter,” he said.
“When elected, my chief priorities will be developing and informing the residents of road updates. (Snow removal, salting, potholes, new paving opportunities, etc.) I also would like to work with the board to develop our senior programs (Progressive League) and last, but not least, develop our youth programs so Sumpter is a place where the elderly feel a sense of fine country living and people want to raise families here while the kids love being here.
“In my opinion, it is paramount that we develop a process to streamline ordinary business and focus on new business. I will work hard to make sure Sumpter Township leads the way forward and continues to be a welcoming community strongly rooted in country living at its finest and a place the youth loves to live,” Jordan said.
He said he is the most-qualified candidate for this position because he is educated, a longtime Sumpter resident, understands that nothing is constant but change, and is goal-driven, process-oriented, and reliable.