Citizens continue to submit ballots as Election Day approaches
Wed, 10/21/2020 - 12:00pm caleb
Most of the candidates for government positions in Crawford County are running unopposed on the November 3 ballot
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
According to state officials, more than a million Michigan residents have already submitted their ballots for the November 3 general election, but there is still time to register to vote and there is still time to cast an absentee ballot prior to in-person voting on Election Day.
“With more than one million ballots already returned, we’re seeing an incredible amount of enthusiasm from Michiganders excited to participate in our democracy,” said Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “Voters have more options than ever before for how to register and cast their ballot, and that’s why we’ve been working around the clock to ensure citizens understand those options and can exercise their rights in the way that works best for them.”
According to the Michigan Secretary of State, October 19 was the last day for people to register to vote online for the November 3 election, but people can still register by visiting the clerk’s office in their voting precinct.
“If someone has not yet registered after this deadline has passed, they may still register in person at their city or township clerk’s office through Election Day with a document verifying their residency. They can also apply for and return an absent voter ballot at the clerk’s office in the same trip,” according to the Michigan Secretary of State.
The Secretary of State, with the election only two weeks away, is recommending people who are voting via absentee ballots to submit them in person to their clerk’s office or designated dropbox instead of mailing them.
The November 3 ballot includes federal, state, and local races.
Locally, most of the Crawford County position races are not contested. The candidates for Crawford County Prosecuting Attorney, Sheriff, Clerk/Register of Deeds, and Treasurer are not facing opposition on the November 3 ballot. The Crawford County Board of Commissioners candidates are also running unopposed on the ballot.
There are three candidates running for two seats on the Crawford County Road Commission Board: Cris Jones (Republican), Ronald Larson (Republican), and Darryl Babbitt (No Party Affiliation).
The November 3 ballot has two county-wide millage proposals.
Grayling Recreation Authority, the governing body for Hanson Hills Recreation Area, is asking voters to approve an eight-year operating millage renewal.
The millage proposal asks for “0.4845 ($.4845 per $1,000 of taxable value” of “general ad valorem taxes” for “2021 through 2028 inclusive, for the purpose of maintaining recreational facilities and activities in Crawford County,” according to the ballot language.
The other county-wide millage proposal is for the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department to pay “the costs of maintaining and equipping a deputy assigned as the School Resource Officer in the Crawford AuSable School System and maintaining and equipping a deputy assigned to the Strike Team Investigative Narcotics Group” for “a period of five years, 2020 through 2024 inclusive,” according to the ballot language. The proposal – “a new millage” – asks voters to approve “0.4500 ($0.4500 per $1,000 of taxable value” on “the total amount of general ad valorem taxes imposed on real and tangible personal property” in the county to pay for the S.T.I.N.G. deputy and the school officer.
Both proposals end with language stating that “a portion of such millage revenue will be captured by and disbursed to the Crawford County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and Sawmill Lofts Neighborhood Enterprise Zone No. 1.”
County officials said the “portion” to be “captured by and disbursed to the Crawford County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority” only involves potential growth at those two sites.
“Tax Increment Financing is a tool created by the State of Michigan to assist in a variety of areas, but in this case, it is being used by the Brownfield Authority to encourage development of property that would not otherwise be developed. Some properties, because of their past use, have some form of contamination. The contamination must be removed or contained for the property to be re-developed. This puts an additional cost on someone that may want to re-develop that property, so the idea is to remove that obstacle,” said Paul C. Compo, Crawford County Administrator. “When the property is purchased, it has an initial value established, which will set the tax revenue that is collected from that property. As the developer improves the property, the value of the property will increase. The tax revenue that is collected on the initial value will always continue to be disbursed the way it always has in the past; however, as the value of the property increases, that additional tax revenue will be ‘captured’ and used to reimburse the developer for eligible costs that they incurred because of the contamination.”
“Currently, we have two (Tax Increment Financing) plans that have been approved by the City of Grayling, the Brownfield Authority, and the County Board of Commissioners. Because they have been approved and exist, whether re-development takes place or not, the county must disclose their existence on any ballot question that we ask the voters to consider. In the event one or both of these ballot proposals are approved, the voters deserve to know that additional tax revenues generated by the owners’ investment in re-developing these properties pursuant to TIF plans will be captured and used to reimburse the owners for eligible expenses as opposed to being used for the programs stated in the ballot proposals,” Compo said. “If you do not own one of these two properties, and one or both of these ballot proposals are approved, your additional tax dollars will be used exclusively for the programs stated in the ballot proposals.”
The two candidates running for the Crawford AuSable School District Board of Education are unopposed on the ballot.
In other area school board races, three candidates – Lyn Sperry, Ian Faulkner, and M. Lynda Marek – are vying for two seats on the COOR ISD Board, and the Kirtland Community College Board of Trustees has three seats to be decided in the November 3 election.
One Kirtland Community College Board of Trustee position – a partial term – does not have a candidate listed on the ballot, but Crawford County election officials, as of Friday, October 16, reported two registered write-in candidates for the spot: Alan Ashley Bruder and Thomas Steven Wassa.
The November 3 ballot also has two full-term Kirtland Community College Board of Trustee positions. There is one candidate on the ballot – Edwin Pearen – and county election officials are reporting one write-in candidate, MaryAnn Ferrigan, in the race.
There are some contested races in the townships.
In Frederic Township, the ballot lists three candidates for the clerk position: Amanda Siwecki (Republican), Christine Cox (No Party Affiliation), and Kimberly Johnston (No Party Affiliation). There are two candidates listed for the Frederic Township Treasurer position: Karen M. Dawson (Republican) and Jodie Tompkins (No Party Affiliation). Three candidates – Donald Weaver (Democratic), Debra Friedman (Republican), and Randy Richardson (Republican) – are listed on the ballot for two Frederic Township trustee seats.
In Lovells Township, the ballot lists two candidates – Randy Long (Democratic) and Gary Neumann (Republican) – for the supervisor position. Other Lovells Township candidates are running unopposed on the ballot.
Candidates for government positions in the City of Grayling, Beaver Creek Township, Grayling Charter Township, Maple Forest Township, and South Branch Township are not facing opposition on the November 3 ballot.
Beaver Creek and South Branch voters have one additional millage request on their ballots, a Roscommon Area Public Schools Operating Millage Proposal.
“This proposal will allow the school district to levy the statutory rate of not to exceed 18 mills on all property, except principal residence and other property exempted by law, required for the school district to receive its revenue per pupil foundation allowance,” according to the ballot language. “Shall the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be assessed against all property, except principal residence and other property exempted by law, in Roscommon Area Public Schools, Roscommon and Crawford Counties, Michigan, be increased by .5414 mill ($0.5414 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a period of 4 years, 2020 to 2023, inclusive, to provide funds for operating purposes; the estimate of the revenue the school district will collect if the millage is approved and .0414 mill is levied in 2020 is approximately $18,726 (this millage is to restore millage lost as a result of the reduction required by the Michigan Constitution of 1963 and will be levied only to the extent necessary to restore that reduction)?”
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3, for in-person voting.
Crawford County polling locations include: Grayling City Hall, 1020 City Boulevard; Beaver Creek Township Hall, 8888 S. Grayling Road; Frederic Township Hall, 6470 Manistee Street; Grayling Township Hall, 2090 Viking Way; Lovells Township Hall, 8405 Twin Bridge Road; Maple Forest Township Hall, 2520 W. Marker Road; South Branch Township Hall, 5245 N. M-18.