BELDING — Two Belding residents are vying for an opening for the Ionia County Board of Commissioners District 1 seat, previously held by Lynn Mason, who is seeking election for 86th District state representative.
The two candidates are Debra Bach, 54, an independent psychologist, and David Hodges, 50, the co-owner of North Woods Furniture, North Woods Lawn Service and M-44 Store & Lock, U-Haul. Both are Republicans.
The winner of Tuesday’s primary election will go on to represent Otisco Township and the city of Belding at the county level in November’s general election, as there is no Democratic challenger for the seat.
Bach, who has a doctorate and Ph.D in psychology, said her experience in leadership roles, such as having served as the president of the Belding Area Schools Board of Education, will help in making tough decisions that are necessary for the county to improve.
“Ionia County has been and continues to experience declining revenues,” she said. “The board’s main function is to budget and appropriate funds.”
Bach said she would attempt to implement three recommendations, which include a budget analysis with a focus on reducing expenditures while maintaining public safety, implementing a multi-year budget, and focusing on efficiency of services.
According to Bach, Ionia County does not have a long-term strategic plan, which she believes needs to change.
“Government runs more efficiently when long-term plans are clearly identified and everyone is working toward the same goals.”
For Hodges, who has a bachelor’s degree in business management from Cornerstone University, communication between the county, townships and cities is crucial.
Hodges said he would attend every Belding City Council and Otisco Township Board meeting that he could to provide regular updates from the county, and vise versa.
“I want everyone to be informed, to know what’s going on,” he said. “I would make sure that everyone’s voice is heard. I’m not representing myself, I’m representing the people who elect me.”
Hodges said his time spent on several boards, including eight years on the Belding Area Schools Board of Education and two years on the Otisco Township Planning Commission, have helped him learn to work with others and to properly represent a community.
Hodges also credited his experience in the United States Army, stating he would take the lessons he learned in discipline and leadership with him to the county level.
“I learned to love and respect our country and the freedoms that we enjoy,” he said. “I understand fully the price that our men and women of the military have paid for these freedoms.”