ELECTION 2016: Brad Bickle Q&A, Candidate for Treasurer, Peninsula Township

"Our Master Plan provides the guidelines, and zoning ordinances must reflect that Plan to maintain a reasonable balance of conservancy and logical growth. "

Feel free to share this post...
Brad Bickle
Brad Bickle | Jane Boursaw Photo

The Primary Election will take place on August 2, 2016 in Peninsula Township, Grand Traverse County. Following is a Q&A with Brad Bickle, candidate for Peninsula Township Treasurer.

Click here for links to Q&As with all the candidates who’ve responded to our request. To print this Q&A, click the printer icon at the top of this post. To download a sample ballot for Peninsula Township, click here.

Old Mission Gazette is Reader Supported.
Click Here to Keep the Gazette Going.

(Editor’s Note: Current Township Supervisor, Pete Correia, did not respond to our request for a Q&A).

Why are you running for the position of Township Treasurer for Peninsula Township, and what qualifications will you bring to the role?

My decision to run is based on my desire to share my knowledge and experiences from more than 30 years in business and finance with our Township as your next Treasurer. Our financial management needs improvement, and I have both the willingness and ability to create positive change in the Treasurer’s office.

I have been in the corporate and private business world for more than 30 years, and I excel at in-depth financial analysis, P&L budgeting, revenue generation and strict expense budgeting. I attribute my successes to the endless passion and enthusiasm I have brought to identifying core issues, challenges, and available resources to help an individual or a team achieve defined goals and objectives on budget.

What is your vision for Peninsula Township in 10, 20, 50 years? Do you support maintaining the rural character of the Old Mission Peninsula?

Old Mission Peninsula is truly a special place framed by its rural character of scenic views, clean water and much natural beauty of the four seasons, which we are truly fortunate to experience and call home. Our Master Plan provides the guidelines, and zoning ordinances must reflect that Plan to maintain a reasonable balance of conservancy and logical growth. Achieving the vision for the future of Peninsula Township requires an ongoing commitment by Township elected officials to uphold and adhere to the Master Plan as our “driving document” for the future of conserving our beauty and logical growth, which I commit to do while serving in the office of Treasurer.

Do you support large scale developments such as “The 81,” a development bordering Boursaw Road that includes 41 home sites and up to 40 boat slips in East Bay? Why or why not?

I believe in private property rights and enjoyment. A person has the right to develop their home or farm, provided it is in accordance with our Master Plan and Zoning Ordinance, to best assure that all Peninsula residents are playing by and adhere to the same “rules” for development and enjoyment of their property.

In my 30-year career, I have sat on a number of committees charged with making many big decisions, and there’s usually a very clear thought process and a very clear review and discovery of facts. What was concerning on this specific “81” development is how expediently a project of this magnitude was pushed through. Many neighboring citizens did not even hear about it until after it was passed. As we now know, Judge Rogers of the 13th Circuit Court reviewed “The 81” case and kicked it back to the Township for missing a number of important components. The Township clearly ran a few stop signs in its haste to pass this project.

Much controversy is currently surrounding the Peninsula Fire Department, including resignations from the Fire Board, unionization of the fire department, discussion about the sale of fire equipment (including the Safe Boat), and discussion about the fire department being absorbed into Traverse City, with Peninsula Township contracting for those services. Do you support maintaining a strong and independent fire department in Peninsula Township? Why or why not? If yes, what steps will you take to ensure that?

I support maintaining our local fire and emergency services, and I have been talking to many Peninsula residents who feel the same way. In reviewing a couple of past proposals, I have noted some interesting and reasonable ideas developed for modernizing the basic equipment and housing available to our Fire Department, but none seem to have ever gotten past the talking phase, due to the increasingly toxic relationship between the Fire Department, the Fire Board, and the current Town Board.

We need to consider a real and simple solution: our Fire Chief should have a great deal of professional latitude, and should work and communicate directly with the Town Board to reduce micromanagement and indecision. Our Town Board should increase focus on addressing the intermediate and long-term needs of our residents’ Fire and Emergency Service requirements. As Treasurer, I will explore new and overlooked sources of funding for the Fire Department from State and Federal grants.

TCAPS has recommended closing Old Mission Peninsula School (OMPS) at the end of the 2018 school year, with Old Mission children attending Eastern Elementary School going forward. This would also necessitate the Peninsula Community Library finding a new home. However, an anonymous Old Mission Peninsula resident has pledged $800,000+ to help keep OMPS open. Do you support keeping OMPS open? Why or why not?

I am absolutely in favor of keeping OMPS open. Anyone who does a brief study on the general history of OMPS will find that our community has consistently fought for educational access and autonomy on the Peninsula from the 1950s to the present day. We need to keep that determination and fight very alive today. For every problem or challenge, there is usually a logical solution. Donations that are purely gifts with no strings attached are a part of that pathway to a solution, but we also need to protect ourselves from being coerced. The fight needs to be at the TCAPS level, and with open seats on the school board, our residents who want to continue the fight for OMPS should seriously consider making their voices heard on the TCAPS board. Only then will we have a true champion for OMPS and our community library.

A Bowers Harbor Park expansion is currently in the works, with a committee meeting regularly to move this project forward. What is your vision for this expansion? Would you like to see a more family-friendly park, with new play structures? Or would you rather see a more passive park, with additional walking trails and improvements to the current play structures?

The Park Board will be studying and preparing various proposals, and it will be interesting to hear and see these proposals as they evolve. That said, the natural beauty of the Peninsula lends itself to a generally passive park. When one studies the 2011 Master Plan Survey specifically on parks, 69 percent of the residents were in favor or high priority of improvement of present parks. Next priority was 50 percent of the residents in favor of development of additional outdoor recreational opportunities.

That said, a focus with a diligent eye on our funding to strike a balance of modernizing and maintaining a mix of active uses in the old park and general passive uses in the expansion plans could potentially achieve a general balance as provided by the “voices” of our residents in the Master Plan survey.

How would you engage Peninsula Township residents in the decision-making process at the Township level? How will you ensure community transparency in finances, meetings and decisions?

The Township Newsletter needs to be brought back. The voices of our residents were very clear on this, as noted in the Master Plan survey, that 85.9 percent wanted a newsletter – it doesn’t speak any louder or more clearly on the matter. For many years, it was a standard until the current Township Board stopped it for budget reasons. Interestingly, the cost of salary increases for Town Board members in the last two years exceeded the annual cost of the newsletter.

Also, an email communication would be important, as many of our residents who are away for the winter but remain connected to family and friends via email can receive important Peninsula information, along with full-time residents who opt for email vs. regular mail newsletter. Our meetings and public hearings need to be more “open” and clearly announced so that the public has the ability to participate and comment before the Board has rendered even a preliminary decision, ensuring that township residents’ voices are heard.

Anything else you’d like to convey to residents of Peninsula Township?

The first mission is to change the culture of the Township from an environment of working in “the dark” back to being a place for our residents to feel welcomed and the first stop for reference and resource to their questions or needs. I have met with many residents over the past many months, and this has been the most common observation.

This is one of many reasons I, as Treasurer candidate, along with the six other team candidates, am becoming involved in this campaign process. We are committed to this change of current “dark” culture and returning to a time a few years back when, for many years led by Rob Manigold as Supervisor, the Township was very transparent and engaged the residents actively in the decision-making process for projects that would impact neighbors and our landscape for many decades.

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

Bay View Insurance of Traverse City Michigan


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
Please enter an e-mail address

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.