Home News Seven Peninsula Township Residents Run for Town Board as Team

Seven Peninsula Township Residents Run for Town Board as Team

Peninsula Township Candidates Group 640
Seven Peninsula Township Residents Run for Town Board as Team. Pictured, front row l to r, Warren Wahl, Margaret Achorn, Isaiah Wunsch, Maura Sanders; back row, l to r, Brad Bickle, Rob Manigold, Joanne Westphal
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Seven Peninsula Township residents have submitted petitions to serve as Township Board members. Their goal? To evolve a culture of competent local governance in an exemplary township. Their primary objectives are to work as a team to gather public input to:

  1. Lay the groundwork for a productively unified community
  2. Balance land preservation and development
  3. Pursue responsible, feasible, and prudent fiscal objectives
  4. Reactivate and prepare functional advisory bodies (Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals and Fire Board)

The group notes that they’re running as a “team,” and they hope residents will vote for all seven, as that’s how they feel they can best serve the township.

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Let’s take a closer look at the team, along with the bios they shared with Old Mission Gazette. Look for one-on-one interviews with the candidates in the coming weeks.


Rob served for 25 years as Peninsula Township Supervisor, from January 1988 through December 2013. His record of positive accomplishments for the citizens of the Township is a matter of public record. Rob also has proven to be proficient at planning, developing and implementing policy focused on the protection and conservation of natural and agricultural resources in Peninsula Township.

Rob is a 4th generation farmer on the Old Mission Peninsula. He began his education at the Old Mission Peninsula School and graduated with a BS degree from Central Michigan University. He was instrumental in the creation and implementation of the Peninsula Township Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program, and the creation, improvement and maintenance of five Township parks.

Rob is passionate about the quality of our community and sustaining the heritage of the Old Mission Peninsula School and Peninsula Community Library. The cornerstone of his commitment to serve another term as Township Supervisor is driven by two major factors:

    1. To ensure that public input is actively sought and collective Township resources are used to achieve the stated vision of all Township residents.
    2. To develop a strong leadership team, including elected, appointed, and employed individuals, trained and informed, so that the quality of life in Peninsula Township is enhanced and preserved for all.


Brad is running for Township Treasurer. His outstanding academic preparation put him on track to pursue a 30-year career as an automotive industry executive. He is a Michigan native and has been a homeowner paying taxes in Peninsula Township since 2008.

Brad has been recognized for his capacity to harness the enthusiasm and talents of others, identify core issues, and to engage the necessary resources available to stretch funds and achieve management objectives. His extensive financial management skills and his habits of preparation and meeting deadlines will ensure that the perfunctory duties of Township Treasurer will be performed at the traditionally excellent level.

He believes that when a team is provided clear direction, coupled with the necessary training and tools, powerful results for achieving success occur. Brad is prepared to be an effective team player, is a true believer in the importance of listening to the concerns and opinions of his fellow Township residents, and pledges to absolutely carry out the duties of Township Treasurer.

On a personal note, Brad enjoys the lifestyle of the Peninsula, which includes growing a small vineyard on his property. Additionally, he spends time volunteering and mentoring others in the community, as he believes that sharing of time, talents and life experiences with others enhances one’s own life.


Jo brings unique qualifications to her candidacy for Peninsula Township Clerk. She has a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture, a PhD in Land Use Management, and a DO degree from Michigan State University. Her career background includes academia and medicine.

Jo taught for 28 years in the MSU Landscape Architecture Program and recently retired as a designated Professor Emerita. She helped pioneer the Township Ag Preservation program, which ultimately evolved into the Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) Program.

Jo owns an 83-acre fruit farm in Peninsula Township. She’s committed to ensuring implementation of the Master Plan to preserve historic resources and protect farmland and open space. She has a commitment to the equitable administration of public laws for all citizens, including the enforcement of existing ordinances.

Jo believes that the information transfer between township officials and citizen groups/individuals can be greatly improved and updated. As the Township Clerk, she is confident that she can deliver the high standards of performance that Township citizens have been afforded in the past.


A Northern Michigan native, Warren moved to the Old Mission Peninsula following his graduation from Cooley Law School with a Juris Doctorate in 2013. Warren started Wahl Legal Group in Traverse City and is the sole partner. He specializes in Estate Planning because he enjoys building relationships and being involved with his clients.

Warren is engaged to a Traverse City native and plans to marry this fall. Children are in the plan, and Warren is very concerned about the future of Old Mission Peninsula School. Warren’s fiancé attended Old Mission Peninsula School, and he hopes that (with or without TCAPS) their children will have the opportunity to begin their education with a view of Power Island.

As a Township Board Trustee, Warren’s education, ethics, and professional law practice, including conflict resolution, will provide a valuable resource in enacting ordinances that help preserve the peninsula for future generations.


Margaret has more than 35 years’ experience as a practicing CPA and has been a resident of Peninsula Township for more than 17 years. She has a Master’s degree in Taxation from Walsh College and a Bachelor’s degree with high distinction from the University of Michigan.

Because Margaret is dedicated to protecting and guiding the future of Peninsula Township, she became concerned about local governance activities. More than two years ago, Margaret began reading the minutes for all meetings in Peninsula Township government. This led her to research all information available on the Township website and compelled her to regularly attend nearly every Township meeting since last fall, including the Township Board, Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, Fire Board and Park Commission.

As a result, Margaret feels that the time has come for constructive change, and she’s offering her immense expertise and knowledge as Township Board Trustee. She is bringing core principles of honesty, integrity, and a strict code of ethics and fiduciary duty to the position. Margaret is committed to the community of Old Mission Peninsula and willing to devote her time, efforts and expertise to the Township citizens. She feels that residents deserve better.


Isaiah was born and raised in Peninsula Township and recently acquired his own PDR farm on Kroupa Road, achieving six generations of continuous family ownership beginning in 1862. He remains actively involved in the family farm business as an operating partner.

Isaiah began his education at Old Mission Peninsula School. He graduated from the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy and worked in Senator Howard Walker’s office in Constituent Relations while doing his graduate work in Agricultural Economics at Michigan State University. He worked for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation as the Agribusiness Specialist and Project Manager, bringing business back to Michigan and designing and retooling economic development programs to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of state government.

Isaiah currently serves on the Peninsula Township Planning Commission and is the ex officio liaison to the Zoning Board of Appeals. He has been part of a community group working to keep the Old Mission Peninsula School and Peninsula Community Library open. As part of the group, he’s sought to challenge TCAPS’ strategic, demographic, and financial assumptions.

Isaiah believes that his dedication to finding more efficient uses of public resources and ensuring consistent application of private property rights will make him an excellent Township Trustee.


Maura graduated from the US Naval Academy in 2000 and was a Lieutenant in the US Marine Corps with an honorable discharge in 2001. Maura has been a resident of Peninsula Township since June 2013. Professionally, she’s a realtor, helping people achieve the American dream of home ownership.

Appointed to the Peninsula Township Park Commission, Maura is serving as Chairperson, proving her commitment and exhibiting exceptional leadership skills. She is considered an important rising star in community service. Maura believes high ethical standards define her life professionally and personally, and that these traits are infused in anything she puts her hand to with consistently positive outcomes. Peninsula Township’s future is her passion.

Maura and her husband, Todd, a retired USMC Major who also graduated from the US Naval Academy, are young parents and understand the importance of a child-friendly community in which to raise children. Maura is committed to service and believes that working for Peninsula Township as Trustee and long range planning are the best ways to preserve and protect our strong heritage.

A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever.

To keep the Gazette going, click here to make a donation. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

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  1. Thank you for doing something substantive! Love these ideas:
    -Lay the groundwork for a productively unified community
    -Balance land preservation and development
    -Pursue responsible, feasible, and prudent fiscal objectives
    -Reactivate and prepare functional advisory bodies (Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals and Fire Board)
    Now, what metrics does the team plan to use to measure them? I would also suggest rewriting these as SMART (Strategic, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound) goals with specific examples of what success looks like. Then, if you really want to blow my mind don’t all run as republicans. HAHAHAHAHA

  2. After a bit of research online I am initially quite interested in this team. You obviously get together (photo) and meet and plan. How do we contact you as a team? It seems like what we have in town government now is both reactionary (rather than setting goals), and anti agri tourism, anti business, and…… instead of the Township board overseeing and guiding our township matters it is STAFF that is leading. I want our elected leaders who we vote for to be the leaders. You can see this when you sit through any township meeting as to who is in control. It is staff and not our elected and appointed officials. Hope to hear more from this group. Regards, Curt Peterson
    (lastly note this comment is not an endorsement of this group….. I want to hear more but I am very interested)

  3. Tonights Township Board meeting 4-120-2016 was a sold out show……. only a few seats in town hall. WHY
    Whether you agree with or not with the citizen comments I can say more people got up to speak at public comment than I have ever seen. The issues were numerous. From the contentious land division near Neatawana, to why did most of the fire board resign (we did not learn tonight), to Bonobo getting hit with 3 violations (apparently for events not specified by council), to many persons requesting much better minutes. And I have to agree after spending my time at other dates to come and speak at public comment section and then to see the minutes say “Mr. Peterson got up and spoke”, are you kidding me? I went there to make at least I thought a sensible comment that was worthy of consideration but when you see that you are dusted off without even mentioning your public input well….. it may tell a tale that the board does not care. But it could be more simply better minutes recording and people spoke out about this. Perhaps digital recording like in the new millenium available since 1998. Nevertheless if you go to a meeting and speak out at the public comment section and your comment is not recorded in the minutes then shame on our township government. And the fire dept. boat. Lots of issues but little facts. And really huge tonight was the discussion of disqualification of a Twp supervisor who stepped aside during the 81 hearing late last fall and how it happened. But it does show that you must be really careful if you are an elected official and express an opinion on line. On the other hand why is it that our leaders cannot express an opinion on a subject before it is voted on. Is that not why we elected them to help make good decisions for our community. A couple of other points…. Some on the Township Board showed composure tonight. Whether you agree/disagree with the Neatawana division our treasurer David Wetherholt is correct. When the division was filed did the applicant have enough acerage (20) for the division. The water level and shoreline was changing but an applicant should only be held to what was the situation when he/she filed and I certainly do not know that or offer opinion. But that should be the decision point. Yes water level has come up but go back to date of filing. Others on the commission tonight did well. But the room contained many next year candidate hopefuls that got up and spoke (at least 3 from the slate of 7 spoke tonight) and their comments were spot on about the topics talked about. This is getting exciting but I suggest all of us stay involved as the Township is moving forward with zoning ordinance changes. Citizens stay involved like your were tonight. It was great and important. Oh and the big loser tonight was (are you kidding me for his comment at the end of the meeting ) A Board member who said at the end of the meeting that he felt that why all of us people who showed up tonight was because an election is coming up later this year and the policiting has started. Well maybe a little. But..ARE YOU KIDDING ME. We want our government to lead in a positive manner. It is that simple. And right now we are not seeing great government performance at Peninsula Township. And….. really important citizen comments and public input should be the 1st agenda item not at the end after the board has conducted their (our) business. This is totally wrong. For the most part they only play lip service to comments after the business is conducted. Regards, Curt Peterson

  4. Agree with a lot of your comments. Though I’m not so sure about the Neahtawanta land division issue. I’ve always thought that people who owned frontage owned to the “high water line.” So technically, you could actually walk the beach at the water’s edge and not be trespassing. But how is the high water line determined? And how many years do you go back to determine what the high water line is? Hmmm…

    • Yes I should amend my comment to what should be determining is what laws/ordinances were on record at the time of the land division application and I am certainly NOT an expert on that and offer no opinion.


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