ELECTION 2016: Monica Hoffman Q&A, Candidate for Clerk, Peninsula Township

"I have ALWAYS had an open door policy for our residents, and will provide them whatever they ask for."

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Monica Hoffman | Aaron Tackett Photo

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

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 Trustee for Peninsula Township, and what qualifications will you bring to the role?

I’m running for Township Clerk again to offer the residents the experience, dedication, integrity and qualifications that our residents deserve. I promised and I have delivered on my promise to remain objective, fair, and open-minded while continuing to serve all our residents. My promise to our residents has not and will not change. I have always had an open door policy to all residents.

I bring 16 years experience to the office of Township Clerk. I’m a Certified Michigan Municipal Clerk qualified to run elections in the State of Michigan. I have participated in writing the election manual for Grand Traverse County, including assisting with and training many county election workers. I’m responsible for the accounting of the Township. Since being Clerk, I’ve continued to have outstanding audits in both elections and the general audit.

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

My vision for Peninsula Township is to keep the rural character of the Township; however, we will have development, as many people see this as a desirable place to live. I would like to see the Township, along with a citizens’ group, work towards another PDR (Purchase of Development Rights) program. This will assist in keeping our prime farm land (which is desirable to build on) in agriculture. Our young farmers want to farm. We just need to help in ways to do that.

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 did vote for “The 81.” However, the Planning Commission and the Township Board worked to keep open space and cluster the homes on this residential zoned property. This property, since it is zoned residential, could have as many as 70 homes, without any open space. The owner has brought back a Use-By-Right proposal to put 53 homes on it. I’m in favor of the Township having rules and regulations through the Zoning Ordinance to work with the Township to have a development that is clustering and open space, realizing that property owners have rights.

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’m not sure who has been discussing joining with the City Fire Department. I have not. I’m in favor of keeping our own Fire Department. I do not want to see the same thing happen to our Fire Department that happened to the Old Mission School when we joined TCAPS years ago; we could have lost our school out here. I do not want that to happen with our Fire Department.

I’m in favor of Peninsula Township keeping an independent fire department and offering ALS (Advanced Life Support). No on has decided to sell the “Safe Boat.” We own it. We just need to work towards using it to the best of our ability, and we have done that. We have a trained staff to run the boat. I have and will continue to work closely with Fire Department staff to keep our residents safe and secure.

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 do support keeping the Old Mission School open. However, since the school and property are now owned by TCAPS, we have no control over it, other than to support the school.

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 believe that all of our residents need a say in how we develop the addition to Bowers Harbor Park. This park belongs to all of our residents, not the Township Board or the Park Commission. I would like to have a survey done for different uses. Let all the people who live here decide, not a a few individuals or adjacent property owners.

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?

We have always advertised for positions such as the Planning Commission, PDR committee, Zoning Board of Appeals … however, we get very few applications, and sometimes no one applies. We welcome and encourage people to apply for these. If people want their voices heard, what better way to do this than apply for these positions? I have ALWAYS had an open door policy for our residents, and will provide them whatever they ask for. I was the one who started the Township website, which is updated on a daily basis. I ask our residents to please get the facts so they are informed also.

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

I have proudly served our residents for 16 years. I have done so with experience, dedication, and integrity. I have always voted for what is right within the Zoning Ordinance, and have always treated everyone in an equal and fair manner. I have always listened to our residents, realizing that we have rules and laws in the Township and do not play favorites with anyone. I have kept my promise to serve ALL the residents and to remain objective, fair, and open-minded.

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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