The absentee ballots for the Aug. 4 primary election are expected to be mailed out this week and so the Independent is providing the responses candidates gave to our questionnaires so voters can consider their choices.
In Van Buren Township, the supervisor, clerk, and treasurer are unopposed, but there are seven running for four trustee seats. Six trustee candidates are Democrats, plus one Republican.
Kevin McNamara for supervisor – D
Kevin McNamara, 61, 44712 Greenbriar Dr., who is completing his first four-year term as supervisor, has filed for reelection.
McNamara is married to Aida and has a son Cullan and daughter Jamie. He has lived in the township for eight years. He has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science / Urban Planning from the University of Michigan and also graduated from Harvard University’s Executives in Government Program.
He served as Wayne County Commissioner and was a member of Schoolcraft College Board of Trustees.
He has been appointed to the following public offices: SEMCOG Executive Committee – Chairman of Finances, Detroit Wayne County Airport Board of Directors – Chairman of Audit, Detroit Wayne County Mental Health Authority and many other boards and commissions.
The clubs and organizations to which he has belonged includes: Most Holy Trinity Church (past chairman and grand marshal of St. Patrick’s Downtown Parade), Chamber of Commerce, WAVE (help pay indigent residents’ water bills), Lions, Eagles, Moose, BYC, Friends of Library, Museum (BAM), Council of the Arts, ACLU, Sierra Club, Southwest Wayne County Democratic Club, and Western Wayne NAACP.
McNamara said he is running for office to continue the township’s plan to create a Premier Community, with exceptional amenities like rebuilt parks, walking trails, playgrounds, a community center, splash pads, pickle ball courts, and a new lakeside park.
“As a lake community, I would like to improve our lake amenities while protecting the health of our number-one asset – Belleville Lake,” he said. “To constantly improve our police and new full-time firefighter forces. To build a community that works together, embraces our diversity, and celebrates our accomplishments – Together.”
Once he is reelected his goals are: “To maintain the second-lowest municipal taxes in Wayne county, the lowest water rates, and driving the cost of homes to create wealth for our residents. To create synergies to pay for expanded amenities through public and private grants and working with local charities, non-profits and the community fund to create these amenities (the same system we used to build the Splash Pad). To control growth that does not fit our community character (like purchasing the Ford Land at Tyler and Belleville Road). To continue to provide a safe place for families to live and raise their children. To continue to fiscally guarantee that our community can do all of these things without raising taxes.”
Leon Wright for clerk – D
Leon Wright, 59, 9961 Andover Dr., is running for reelection as township clerk. He has lived in the township for 26 years.
He and his wife Janice have two sons, Leondre and Jabari.
Wright has earned designation as Master Municipal Clerk (MMC) from Central Michigan University. He has served as VBT clerk since his first election in 2008 and has been reelected since.
Wright belongs to the International Institute of Municipal Clerks, Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks, Association of Wayne County Clerks, and Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority.
Wright enjoys golfing, running, and biking and belongs to the Wyoming Warriors, a church golf league.
“Prior to being elected clerk in 2008, I was a business owner in the community in which I live,” Wright said. “I was actively engaged in the political landscape and was asked to run for local office. The reason I’m running for this office again is because I really enjoy what I do. I enjoy engaging with the public and working to make a change in what they can see. I believe I have done so and I still have the passion to do more.”
His goals once elected: “Although we have made great strides in election reform, I believe there is still room for improvement. We need to offer every process which proves itself to be efficient and safe regarding elections. This will continue to offer voters every accessibility possible to express their vote.”
Sharry A. Budd for treasurer – D
Sharry A. Budd, 78, 42700 N. I-94 Service Dr., is running for reelection as treasurer.
She has lived in the township for 56.5 years and her spouse is deceased. Her children are James, Jeffrey, and Jay and all are married. She has eight grandchildren.
Budd is a graduate of Huron High School, New Boston; Wayne County Community College District, and is a Certified Public Finance Official.
She also was elected to the Van Buren Public Schools Board of Education and as VBT treasurer. Budd was appointed deputy clerk of Van Buren Township in 1992.
She belongs to September Days, the Historical Society, the Van Buren Civic Fund, as well as Michigan Municipal Treasurers and Wayne County Treasurers.
Budd said she is running for reelection because, “I want ot continue to serve our community. I believe I understand the needs and wants of our residents. My commitment and integrity will help Van Buren Township grow responsibly.”
Budd said, “My goal after the pandemic and unrest is to help our community be safe and to treat everyone equally. We had projects going before the shut down and together we will come back.”
Six Democrats and one Republican are running for four trustee positions open.
Sherry Frazier for trustee – D
Sherry Frazier, 71, 41167 S. I-94 Service Dr., a Democrat, is running for reelection as trustee. She has lived in the township for 38 years. Her husband Wayne is deceased and their children are William, Suanna, and Andrew.
Frazier is a retired educator and current realtor. She has bachelor’s degrees from both Eastern Michigan University and University of Michigan.
She served on the Van Buren Public Schools Board of Education for 11 years, being elected three times and is completing her four-term term as a VBT trustee after her first election to the board.
Frazier was appointed to the board of TLN (The Library Network), formerly known as Wayne Oakland Library Federation, and was appointed to RESA – the Regional Education System Association.
Frazier belongs to the Belleville Area Council for the Arts, the League of Women Voters, Southwest Wayne County Democratic Club, Friends of the Library and Museum Historical Society.
She said she is running for office “To continue progress and growth of VBT. To develop more resident involvement and better transparency. We need more recreation and education opportunities for all – young and old. Attract public transportation, so all residents have access.”
Once elected she would like to: “Build community pride. To attract quality businesses to grow our tax base. To develop property across from township hall into what the residents see as VBT pride.”
Kevin Martin for trustee – D
Kevin Martin, 64, of 9405 Madison Dr., is running for reelection as trustee. He has lived in the township for 23 years.
Martin is an electrician at General Motors and attended Henry Ford College Apprenticeship Training and general studies. He was elected trustee in 2016.
He belongs to the following organizations: A. Philip Randolph Institute, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Regional Advisory Council on Civil and Human Rights and the UAW. His hobbies include reading and gardening.
Martin said he is running for reelection to continue the work started in his first term as Van Buren Township trustee.
“If I have the privilege of being reelected, my goals are to work with Supervisor McNamara, Clerk Wright, Treasurer Budd and the other trustees to build a community center to expand the programming of the Recreation Department, support the Public Safety Departments by ensuring that they receive all of the training and equipment necessary to maintain our reputation as a safe community and work towards expanding suitable housing options for our senior community with developments that blend seamlessly into their surroundings,” Martin said.
Reggie Miller for trustee – D
Reggie Miller, 13697 Pond Bluff Dr., has lived in VBT for 20 years, after first moving to Belleville in 1996. She is completing her second term as trustee.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, where she majored in marketing and graduated summa cum laude from Cleary University, Ann Arbor. She also earned an Associate degree with a double major in marketing and communications from Purdue University North Central, Indiana.
Miller also is a graduate of the Michigan Political Leadership Program at Michigan State University, from the multi-partisan progressive leadership program on effective governance. She also is a graduate of the Township Governance Academy from the Michigan Township Association.
Miller began serving as VBT trustee in 2012. Since then, she has served as the board liaison for both the Senior Endowment Committee and the Elections Committee and she’s an active member of the Southwestern Wayne County Democratic Club, a member of the Lions Club, and the Belleville Area Council for the Arts, to name a few.
Previously, Miller served as the former vice chair of the Public Safety Committee, Executive Director of the National Strawberry Festival, and vice president of the Belleville Downtown Development Authority. She is a member of the League of Women Voters. She has volunteered for two homeowners associations, serving in different roles, and was a former Savage School volunteer in the resource room and has volunteered over the years throughout the community. She also volunteers for the Salvation Army annual holiday kettle drive.
Miller is a member of the alumni groups of Cleary University, Purdue, and Michigan State University.
She is married to her college sweetheart and they raised their two children in the community. She enjoys gardening, photography, traveling, and bike riding. She and her husband are members of Trinity Episcopal Church.
“I am running again for township trustee because I believe that local government works best when focused on serving residents’ needs, and I will continue to bring that same level of service and commitment to the VBT board with complete passion, As township trustee, I will continue to work hard to develop Van Buren Township to be a vibrant and welcoming township that provides a substantial quality of life for all.
“The decisions at our township matter because local government impacts the everyday life of township residents. These decisions impact your home, garbage collection, police and fire services, the aging population, community events and venues, to neighborhood parks and trails. These key factors contribute to quality of life for everyone.
“As your township trustee, most importantly, I will continue to be your voice and will bring forward the issues that matter most to you. I will continue to preserve, promote and protect our community, while being fiscally responsible with our township budget. I will continue to take a common-sense approach to serving the hardworking taxpayers of our community by listening to their concerns.
“I also believe in community service work and recently secured grants for the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund and have helped many residents during the pandemic with issues that ranged from unemployment, food assistance, and child-care-related issues. I will work hard for you because I have a passion for the work that I do as your public servant.”
As to her many goals, Miller said, “I am running with the vision to preserve, promote, and protect Van Buren Township…
“I will be a voice for the residents and not for personal gain,” she said. “I hope to be reelected because I feel that we need to work towards a sense of openness, fairness, and civility among the people who work, live, and serve our township.
“I have gotten to know many of the police, fire, and township personnel, and they are also a great asset to the township. I have worked very hard for the residents, and I do my homework on agenda items. My commitment to the township has been demonstrated by an excellent attendance record,” she said.
Paul White for trustee – D
Paul White, 79, of 17329 Haggerty Rd., has lived in the township for 55 years. He is seeking his second term as trustee. He previously served as township supervisor.
He is married to Sue and they have one son. White is retired from Kroger after serving as a meat manager. He graduated from high school and has two years of college.
White enjoys travel, fishing, photography and helping the Blue Bird population to increase.
He said he is running for office to try to control unnecessary public expenditures and general expense of public funds, plus outrageous raises to friend.
Once reelected his goal is to open the door for residents to speak out on excessive spending and provide recreation activities for all residents.
Donald Boynton, Jr. for trustee – D
Donald Boynton, Jr., 57, 13237 Dover Ct., is running for election as trustee. He and his wife Karen have been married for 25 years and marrying her has been “without a doubt, the best decision of my life,” he said.
Boynton has lived in the township for 15 years and this is his first run for elective office. He currently is serving his fourth term (13 years) on the VBT Planning Commission and he also is serving as the commission representative on the Board of Zoning Appeals.
He belongs to Country Walk 3 Homeowners Association and was elected president in 2006. He is a golf aficionado and belongs to the American Association of Planning, Michigan Association of Planners, and Michigan Township Association.
When asked why he is running for office, Boynton said, “Van Buren Township has it all: family-oriented neighborhoods and suburban amenities in conjunction with a unique relationship alongside a strong agricultural background. Two square miles of lake providing fantastic recreational amenities and magnificent business / commercial / industrial development opportunities served by intermodal transportation.
“Over the past 13 years I have participated in a solid, progressive, and collaborative environment in the development of Van Buren Township. This accomplishment is due primarily to taking the views, comments and concerns of my fellow residents to various sub-committee meetings (e.g. Medical Marihuana, Belleville Lake, Master Plan and overlay district plan reviews, Zoning/General Ordinance revisions) to provide the required services and protections for the residents and property of the township.
“I am a proven leader and manager known for budgeting and forecasting, technical/product knowledge, conflict resolution, team building, personable nature, fair decision making, understanding personality, ethical behavior, integrity, sharp perception, good communication, teamwork, wisdom, inspiration and motivation. Additionally, I am skilled in building productive relationships with co-workers, administrators, and officials in both the private and public sectors.
“Decisions made by our township board impact all aspects of both value of property and quality of life of us all, young and old. I pledge to represent the residents of VBT with my proven leadership, experience, with integrity and transparency; endeavor to prescribe financial efficacy of our tax dollars through strategic planning and forecasting; aim to deliver knowledgeable and sensible decisions on community services and conservation of our natural environment; and maintain and/or improve the quality of life for all residents and advocate unity throughout the township,” Boynton said.
His goals are to form a Homeowners Association Coalition or Council, establish a community park/center adjacent to the lakefront to provide access/enjoyment for all township residents; and oversight of township HR policies and procedures such as labor relations management, recruitment, employee relations, employment law compliance, health and safety, staff training and development.
Boynton said his education includes: Northwood University, production and operations management; Michigan State University Business & Management Center, criminal law-paralegal certificate; MSU Extension, urban planning/land use policy – Master Planner Certificate; and University of Michigan Labor Studies Center, labor and industrial relations – Specialist Certificate.
Walter S. Rochowiak for trustee – D
Walter S. Rochowiak, 75, 43250 Tyler Rd., is running for election as trustee. He has lived in the township for 71 years. He is married to E. Joyce Rochowiak.
He has owned and operated his own business – Garden Fantasy – for 47 years. He graduated from Belleville High School, attended two years at Cleary College, and attended DuPage Horticulture School in West Chicago.
He serves on the VBT Water and Sewer Commission and is legislative aide to Wayne County Commissioner Al Haidous.
Rochowiak belongs to the Van Buren Eagles, Belleville Moose, St. Anthony’s Men’s Club, Chamber of Commerce, BYC, Friends of Belleville Area District Library, Wayne County Farm Bureau, Southwest Wayne Democratic Club and Metro Detroit Flower Growers’ Association.
“I decided to run for office because of the many requests I received to help get the board back on track to working together and stop grandstanding and accomplish projects in a timely fashion and move forward and still keep the people’s interests in the forefront,” Rochowiak said.
“There are a few trustees that are not working as a whole to accomplish that and have their own agenda. I have watched over the funds in the Water and Sewer Commission for 30 years and feel I can do that as a trustee as our water rates are one of the lowest around,” he said.
As far as his goals, “If I get on the board, I hope to bring all of my knowledge and expertise to the table for the people and the community and be sure that whatever comes to the board is good for everyone.
“The vision has changed over the years and I hope to influence those projects to the 21st Century and help make this community a place that the people would be proud of,” Rochowiak concluded.
Cameron Porzondek for trustee – R
Cameron Porzondek, 56, of 14204 Briar Dr., is running for trustee on the Republican ticket. This is the first time he has run for elective office.
Porzondek has been married for 32 years and they have one adult child. He has lived in VBT for 40 years and 16 years in the City of Belleville.
He retired Dec. 1, 2008 as a patrol sergeant with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department after 24 years of service.
He attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for two years. He belongs to the Wayne County Sheriff Retirees Association. His hobbies include riding bikes, playing cards, working in his yard, traveling, and cruises.
“I am running for office because I think I would add some knowledge to the elected board due to living in the area for my entire life,” Porzondek said. “My upbringing and beliefs are to do the right thing and would add good decision-making during board meetings and elections.”
As to goals once elected, “My goals are to work for the community, if elected. The township needs to work closer with Wayne County to make repairs and upgrades to the gravel road, ditches, and drain systems throughout the township. The infrastructure is a mess on the majority of roads in the township. There needs to be some kind of committee put together to work with Wayne County to get the gravel roads repaired, the ditches cleaned and cleared of brush and debris, and the drainage system working properly. With my 24 years working for Wayne County, I think that I would be a good person to get things done to improve these problems.”