The results are in from yesterday’s 2018 Mid-Term Election, and Peninsula Township voters approved a proposal that will dissolve the current Park Commission and transfer all powers, duties, assets and liabilities to the Township Board.
According to Grand Traverse County’s unofficial election results, 2,171 Peninsula Township residents voted yes on the proposal, with 1,565 voting no.
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More than 20 Old Mission Peninsula residents worked to gather signatures over the summer calling for the change. This resulted in the Township Board unanimously authorizing ballot language for the November 6 election.
“Thanks to all who poured time into this,” wrote park volunteer Dave Murphy in an email this morning. “There are obviously issues and candidate races of far greater consequence, but this is a small victory about an important issue close to home that’s needed correction for decades. Sometimes we take what we can get when so many other issues look out of control, and this was a solid accomplishment.”
The park proposal was a hotly debated issue, with some Township residents arguing that there were too many questions with the proposal. In an op-ed for Old Mission Gazette, current Park Commission Chair Anne Griffiths, who noted that she was not running for re-election, said the Township Board would not have time to add park management duties to their already full plate.
“What do Peninsula Township residents think that the five-member Park Commission does in between the monthly meetings?” wrote Griffiths. “If you want to be better informed about what the Park Commission is doing, I invite you to peruse the meeting minutes, and also consider what the current Township Board members are doing with their time if they’ll be expected to add to their plates the responsibilities of the five-member Park Commission.”
Op-ed writer John Scarbrough agreed, noting, “Members of the Peninsula Township Board are good, hard-working folks, but they are already very busy. So day-to-day decisions about our parks will be made by township employees (who are also good, hard-working people). But, they, too, are busy.”
Scarbrough also worried that eliminating the Park Commission would result in Township residents losing their direct vote in how the parks are run. “Some things just won’t get done,” wrote Scarbrough. “And then, perhaps, we’ll be asked to pay to hire a Parks Director with salary and benefits.”
Meanwhile, former Park Commission chair Debbie Rough urged voters to approve the proposal, noting that Peninsula Township parks have grown exponentially in recent years, along with management challenges.
“On a day-to-day basis, the township supervisor and staff field most of the calls related to the parks,” wrote Rough. “The Park Commission must have its annual budget approved by the Township Board. If there are any significant changes to expenditures, again, the Park Commission must return to the Township Board for approval.”
She added that approving the Park Proposal “would improve the effectiveness of our parks system by eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy.”
Other results from yesterday’s election:
Peninsula Community Library Board: John Bercini (2022 votes) and Lorraine Brickman (2368) will continue their service as trustees of the Peninsula Community Library. There were also 45 write-in votes.
Peninsula Township Trustee: David Sanger, who was appointed to fulfill the trustee spot vacated by Maura Sanders, received 2541 votes to continue his service on the Board. There were also 101 write-in votes.
Park Commission: While there were no candidates running for the Park Commission (which, noted above, will be dissolved), there were 181 write-in votes for this spot.
TCAPS Board: The following candidates were voted to serve as board members of Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS): Matt Anderson (16,445 votes), Pamela Forton (15,477 votes), M. Sue Kelly (13,860 votes), Erica Moon Mohr (13,533 votes), and Jeff Leonhardt (18,088 votes, partial term ending Dec. 31, 2020).
Only one of the Team5 TCAPS group, Erica Moon Mohr, will serve on the TCAPS Board. Rhonda Busch, Patricia Henkel, Cathy Meyer-Looze and Deyar Jamil did not receive the votes needed to move forward on the board.
MICHIGAN BALLOT MEASURES
Peninsula Township voters were also asked to vote on three state proposals. At this writing, the state-wide results of these proposals:
Proposal 1: Legalize Marijuana – Approved. This proposal authorizes and legalizes possession, use and cultivation of marijuana products by individuals who are at least 21 years of age and older, and commercial sales of marijuana through state-licensed retailers. A tax will be imposed on marijuana sales. Yes votes – 2,297,078; No votes – 1,818,061.
Proposal 2: Create Redistricting Commission – Approved. A citizen commission will be established with the authority to adopt district boundaries for the Michigan Senate, Michigan House of Representatives and U.S. Congress, every ten years. Yes votes – 2,457,085; No votes – 1,560,848.
Proposal 3: Add Voting Policies to Constitution – Approved. This proposal authorizes automatic and Election Day voter registration, no-reason absentee voting, and straight ticket voting; and adds current legal requirements for military and overseas voting and post-election audits to the Michigan Constitution. Yes votes – 2,706,234; No votes – 1,345,543.
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 the Gazette is mainly reader-supported, I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks my 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. Check out the donation page here. Thank you so much for your support. -jb