ELECTION 2016: David Weatherholt Q&A, Candidate for Treasurer, Peninsula Township

"I will always support programs that can retain the rural character of Peninsula Township."

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David Weatherholt | Peninsula Township Photo

The Primary Election will take place on August 2, 2016 in Peninsula Township, Grand Traverse County. Following is a Q&A with David Weatherholt, 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.

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(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?

To provide a positive experience to Township residents when they do business with Peninsula Township. This year I will be completing my 16th year as Peninsula Township Treasurer.

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

A safe and secure place to live for the foreseeable future. I will always support programs that can retain the rural character of Peninsula Township.

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 support the ordinance. “The 81” was zoned residential years ago. They are only now using that zoning when developing their property. Most would like to see the property similar to its present form. The current owner has made the decision to develop the property within the requirements of the Peninsula Township Zoning Ordinance.

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?

The Peninsula Township Fire Department started many years ago as an all-volunteer department. In the late 1980’s, two full-time fire personnel were hired to cover the day shift. In later years, another two full-time personnel were added to cover the afternoon shift (3 p.m. to 11 p.m.). These two shifts covered about 90 percent of the calls. As time went by, we had fewer volunteers. In 2010, the department went to 24/7 coverage. We have two emergency personnel on duty 24 hours, seven days a week. This reduced our response times. But we still operate out of a volunteer facility that is not suited for overnight use. We are currently looking into Advanced Life Support and upgrades to our building and grounds. I voted for the safe boat when it was proposed. At the time, I had concerns about having sufficient staff to maintain its operation. In the end, I hoped some day it may save a life.

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 will always support keeping OMPS open. Peninsula Township taxpayers pay millions of dollars into the public school system. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to have one elementary school located in our Township. As most know, this is a decision that will be made by the TCAPS School Board.

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?

I don’t know what we would add to the expansion property that we don’t already have in Bowers Harbor Park. Peninsula Township has one of top parks system in the area, with a little bit of recreation for everyone. I support parks that provide recreation to a wide variety of users, and I believe our parks system achieves this goal.

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?

All of our decisions are published though the meeting minutes and are available to the public. Through our website, our residents can remain updated on the various departments within the township. Our yearly audits, meeting times, meeting minutes and ongoing projects can also be found on our website.

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

I would like to thank Jane for taking the time to publish my responses.

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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