Maura Sanders, Candidate for Peninsula Township Supervisor
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(Editor’s Note: Maura Sanders, candidate for Peninsula Township Supervisor, gives her thoughts on the Bluff Road closure, charter townships, winery lawsuit, speed limits on the Old Mission Peninsula and more. -jb)

My run for Township Supervisor and the campaigning over the last couple of weeks have been rewarding and engaging! It reaffirms that my family, home, and this township and residents are what matter most to me. I want to put my time, knowledge, skills and abilities to work for those priorities.

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As I campaign for Supervisor, I’ve spoken at several organized Meet & Greets on the Peninsula, plus I’ve made over 250 door knocks, with more on the way. I’ve expressed my desire to continue to serve the Township, as well as my top goals: Transparency, Consistency and Leadership.

My favorite part of the Meet & Greets are the questions and feedback from the audience. We cover it all, including:

  • The winery lawsuit and where it stands.
  • The newly formed Shoreline Regulation Study Group, Building Height Study Group, and soon to be Agricultural Advisory Committee
  • We discuss the Bluff Road closure, along with the work that is being done with the Road Commission and the Appropriation Request submitted to Sen. Gary Peters’ office for the The Safeguarding Tomorrow Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) through FEMA.
  • What is the Headlee Rollback, what does Charter Township mean, and why has the Township Board been discussing them? (Answer: The Board has the responsibility of keeping the fiduciary interests of our residents first and foremost, and as such, we are charged with performing due diligence in exploring all potential forms of fiscal stewardship. The Township Board moved to NOT move forward with placing the Headlee Rollback on the November ballot. We WILL use the report from our contracted CPA consulting firm to address Township processes and financial management.). I’ve previously made my position known regarding a Charter Township; I am not in support.
  • Planning and Zoning and consistent enforcement of our zoning.
  • Who is running against me, and what sets me apart and makes me the right candidate for the position of Township Supervisor? 

Since we do not have a debate platform established, I am reliant on the readership of Old Mission Gazette to spread the word.

Mr. Kelly Clark is running against me in the August 6 Primary Election. I recently read his League of Women Voters Vote 411 guide responses. I was pleased to see that Mr. Clark supports most of my priority issues and several that I have already had the pleasure to work on at the Township Board level. I’ll briefly review those commonalities before moving on to our differences. 

He wants to, “remove the barriers to the township offices. Buzz-in security systems & glass panels separating community servants from the citizens & neighbors they represent.”  I believe in transparency, and I agree that the Township offices need fluidity between the staff and the public. Safety is always a concern, and having the proper protocols in place is paramount. Given his stance on safety in government buildings in the past, I think that Mr. Clark is in total agreement that the guidance the Township leadership has received from the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office is the best protocol to keep our staff and citizens safe.

Mr. Clark’s second priority is, “win-win solution in regards to the winery lawsuit.”  Of course. Unfortunately, the decision is with Judge Paul Maloney, U.S. District Court Western District of Michigan. As a recent appointee to the Township Board, well after the lawsuit was underway, I’ve immersed myself in the details of the case, as well as the workings of the Township. I’ve volunteered significant unpaid hours to support my learning curve. This will afford me an enormous head start in the Supervisor’s position.

As I noted previously, nobody wins when it’s neighbor vs. neighbor. I look forward to the updated Master Plan and the next Township Survey to ensure that consistent zoning is in place to benefit ALL residents, taxpayers and business owners.

At a recent Peninsula Insights meeting, MSU Extension presented a program on “Cultivating Local Farm Economies, Farms are changing – how do we seek a balance?” The answer: Plan -> Zone -> Amend -> Repeat. **If anyone would like a PDF of the full MSU presentation, please email me at: [email protected], and I will send it to you.

Mr. Clark’s third priority is “to ensure we have working septic systems.”  Since I already introduced this very subject to the Township Board at the May 14, 2024 Township Board meeting, I’m obviously pleased to see him support my efforts. Read more in the minutes of that meeting here.

Mr. Clark’s final note was “Another item on the list would be to repair & lower the speed limit on Bluff Road. I recognize this is a financial challenge, but I will not vote to raise taxes or vote to become a charter township.”  Obviously, the Township has great concern regarding Bluff Road erosion and road repair, so much so that we are asking for federal support.

I also want to point out my deep appreciation for concerns regarding speed and safety from all shoreline road residents. However, lowering the speed limit is not controlled by the Township. The Township, working with our community partners at the Grand Traverse County Road Commission (GTCRC), initiates the process for a road study with support from the residents. Much attention has been paid to Bluff Road because of the erosion and closure, and my intention is to continue to work with GTCRC on safety for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists throughout our community.

Mr. Clark’s message of “Everyone who lives on OMP knows what a special place this is & we all enjoy the natural beauty of green spaces & blue water. I would like to see those things protected, while allowing the businesses & taxpayers to flourish.” That was part of my campaign speech when I was successfully elected to the Township Board as a Trustee in 2016.

When I applied for a vacant trustee position this past fall, I reiterated my position that Mr. Clark basically mirrors. However, where I have strong and fundamental differences with Mr. Clark is around the matters of consistency and leadership. I strongly support consistent enforcement of our rules/ordinances. I am well aware that everything is not in perfect balance now, but it is my goal to get there with the help and input of our residents and taxpayers. This is how we will keep “things protected.”

There is a public process to change rules when we disagree with them. Any person seeking the trust of an electorate should abide by the laws of the land until they’re changed via a transparent public process. Unfortunately, Mr. Clark is a repeat offender regarding the Township rules (zoning ordinances). The local businesses and taxpayers are in the red because of a resident refusing to live by our rules. I am, and will continue to push, for the rules being enforced with consistency across the board.

For more information about any goings on in the Township, please visit this page on the Township website for Township Board agendas, packets and meeting minutes.

I hope to see a great turnout for the August 6 Primary Election! Please Vote!

For more of my professional history please visit my LinkedIn page here, as well as these stories on Old Mission Gazette:

-Maura Sanders, Candidate for Peninsula Township Supervisor

Also Read…

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  1. Maura – thank you for submitting a well written and factual article for the residents of OMP to read. I am pleased to see factual data, with the appropriate links, discussed and your respect and integrity towards your opponent in the bid for Township Supervisor is to be commended. I am looking forward to the day when the Town Board – and the elected officials who run the office – choose to make the decision to proactively start analyzing their department processes, use of human capital, and the fiscal ramifications 🙂


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