The County Needs a Strategic Plan and a Budget Aligned with Those Priorities
The County budget process in the last four years has been largely opaque and essentially a repeat of the previous year's budget. In December 2021, the 2022 budget was presented with very little advance notice so that it was impossible for anyone to actually evaluate it. The 2023 budget passed in the Summer of 2022 was only slightly less opaque. The County Administrator repeated said in effect "Give me your priorities and I will come up with a balanced budget to meet those priorities." There was never any discussion of priorities--at least in open meetings.
This needs to change. The County Commission's primary role is to manage tax expenditures, and almost no time has been devoted to that.
The County Has a Role in the Child Care Crisis
Parents early in their careers are limited in how much it makes sense to pay for child care, and even with reduced regulation, providers can’t make money at the prices they can charge parents. A secondary problem is that attrition of childcare workers is very high; training programs will never, ever fix an attrition problem. With the retirement of baby-boomers, the supply of workers is smaller, and demand will force the price of labor higher.
During the decade that parents need child care, there is no way that they can afford to pay enough to actually provide the service in the current wage environment. Subsidizing the cost of providing childcare via grants from businesses, federal programs, state programs or a county tax program is a key part of the solution.
There are a variety of different ways that this could be structured.
Voters in the county need to be given an opportunity to choose to fund and finance child care in the same way that we finance schools and other services that are needed by early-career families.
The County Has a Role in Addressing the Housing Crisis
I plan to use the County Commission to help address the housing shortage. Zoning and many tools for housing development rest with Townships, but the County Commission controls appointments to the Land Bank Authority, Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, and Road Commission. These boards have direct or indirect influence on housing development; the Board of Commissioners needs to make sure that the appointees understand the urgency of the housing problem and that they work on projects to support housing development of a variety of different types.
The County has a largely unused fund for housing rehabilitation; this was proposed and I believe used to help East Bay residents north of the Airport connect to municipal water when PFAS was detected in their well water. Use of this fund should be expanded to keep houses from turning into tear-downs.
The County should have a role in regional planning and should re-institute the planning effort.
Traverse Connect (also known as the Chamber of Commerse) issued a set of questions for County Commission candidates. This category collects my responses to those questions.
The League of Women Voters -- Grand Traverse Area submitted a questionaire to candidates for County Commission. This category collects my responses.
Understanding a candidate's positions on issues is sometimes only available in video recordings of meetings and candidate forums.
Much of political campaigning today is done via social media; here are some of the social media posts that I've published, edited and adjusted for a different platform.
The Grand Traverse County Jail is an aging facility with many physical and operation problems that have made the news.