All 4 Delhi Township Board seats open

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By Max King and Heather Hoffmeyer
Holt Journal staff writers

Delhi Township will vote Nov. 6 for its officials, which include the township trustees. Here is a look at who is running for the four trustee spots.

Derek Bajema, Republican Courtesy Delhi Township

Bajema is finishing his first term as a Delhi Township trustee after being elected in 2008. He said being a trustee for Delhi Township is about being a representative of the people.

“It’s my job to know what’s on their minds,” said Bajema.

Bajema said part of his job is to keep Delhi Township “a growing and thriving community” while at the same time “being respectful of people’s money”.

Bajema said he wants to increase the number of police officers in the area after cuts were made after a tax increase bill in 2010.

“That’s the core function of a township, you know, is to provide police protection,” said Bajema.
Bajema said the township has had one of the lowest numbers of police officers in the area since 1982 and is “probably the lowest ever.”

Bajema said the whole situation concerns him. “If we can’t do that well, I don’t think we have any business doing almost anything else,” said Bajema.

Bajema said he should be re-elected because he has taken the job seriously and is not afraid to speak out.
“I’ve been pretty outspoken. I don’t think my role is necessarily to make sure that I’m popular in the boardroom,” said Bajema. “My role is to make sure that I’m carrying that message for the people who don’t have time to go to board meetings.”

Aside from serving as a trustee the past four years, Bajema is also the governor’s liaison for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Bajema said that prior to his current jobs, he worked for State Sen. Jerry VanWoerkom for two-and-a-half years and State Representative Neal Nitz for six.

Bajema is a graduate of Calvin College and is from Fulton, Ill. He can be contacted online via Facebook, Twitter, his website and email, derek4delhi@gmail.com. He can be called at 517-980-4009.

Kimberly Berry-Smokoski, Republican

Berry-Smokoski is a first-time candidate who wants to see Delhi Township thrive.

“I want to see Delhi Township be the best possible place to live,” said Berry-Smokoski.
If elected, Berry-Smokoski said she would be fiscally responsible and wants there to be a balance in the way the township spends its money.

“I don’t want my taxes to go up. I don’t want anyone else’s taxes to go up, but I don’t want to live in Gotham City either,” said Berry-Smokoski.

Berry-Smokoski said she wants to make sure the township moves forward in a “reasonable and intelligent fashion.”
What separates her from other candidates, said Berry-Smokoski, is how reasonable she is and her ability to take a “considered, open-minded approach” when hearing both sides of an argument.

“I think everybody comes to a discussion with some kind of truth,” said Berry-Smokoski.

Prior to running for Delhi Township trustee, Berry-Smokoski worked at her family’s residential construction business, Berry Construction. She attended Lake Superior State University and is a graduate of Holt High School.
Berry-Smokoski can be contacted by email at smokeberry@comcast.net.

Jon Harmon, Democrat

Harmon is a first-time candidate and said it is a trustee’s responsibility to “make sure the township is headed in the right direction when it comes to services that are offered.”

Harmon said services like the library, senior center and park systems each have their own commissions but work with the township.

Harmon said his goal as trustee would be to position Delhi Township for future success.

Harmon said he is different from the other candidates because he does not see many issues with the township.
“I don’t have necessarily a bunch of issues that I’ve seen go wrong,” said Harmon.

Harmon said he approaches challenges in a “different manner” because he wants to make a decision that is good for everyone by taking a “systematic review.”

“That’s what I think I bring to (the election). It’s not a ‘I’m going to win this and you’re going to lose it’,” said Harmon.

Harmon said people should vote for him because he is not an incumbent and brings a fresh perspective.
Harmon’s experience includes working in the labor relations field at the Michigan Education Association, the teachers’ union in Michigan, as well as teaching social studies in the Holt School District for nearly 10 years.
Harmon can be contacted via Facebook or email at friendsofjonharmon@gmail.com.

John Hayhoe, Republican

Hayhoe has been a Delhi Township trustee since 2004 and is up for re-election once again.

Hayhoe said a Delhi Township trustee’s main focus is to be responsible with the township’s money and to protect the health and safety of individuals in the township.

Hayhoe said the township does not have many issues currently that he is campaigning for or against.
“Delhi Township is a very nice community. We don’t have any major issues at this time,” said Hayhoe.
Hayhoe said this election is unique because of the turnover in the supervisor position. Stuart Goodrich, who served the past 10 years at the position, lost in the primary.

Hayhoe said he should be re-elected because of his high amount of experience. He has been in the Delhi community for more than 50 years; runs a business called Hayhoe Asphalt, which has been in Holt for 43 years; he has been a member of the Kiwanis Club for 28 years; and has been a board member for eight years, the most out of any current board member.

Hayhoe said he attends conventions run by the Michigan Township Association to be a better trustee. He has attended the last seven annual conventions, which are three-day seminars, all at his own expense.

“Anytime I see something that’s available that can benefit me and the township I take those classes,” said Hayhoe.

Hayhoe is from Holt and has a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in business administration. He can be contacted by telephone at 517-694-7536 or email at jhayhoe@aol.com.

Megan Ketchum, Democrat

Overseeing the way Delhi Township’s business is handled, such as realistic budgets and ordinances, is the main job for a trustee according to this first-time candidate.

Ketchum said the people now in office are doing well, but she thinks things can be better.

“Most people still want to know about that sludge dryer,” said Ketchum.”Everyone wants to know what side you were on and they want to know why.”

The Holt native said she takes all of the township’s issues personally.

“I take it to heart because this is where I grew up,” said Ketchum.

Ketchum said Delhi already had “grade-A” waste systems and she was not sure what the intentions of building a sludge dryer were.

“Why all of a sudden do we need another upgrade when we have something that’s better than what most places already have?” said Ketchum.

Ketchum’s experience includes working for the Retirement Coordinating Council as a lobbyist to get school and state employees and retirees their benefits.

Ketchum has an associate’s degree from Lansing Community College and can be contacted by email at meggie.leanne@gmail.com.

Kenneth O’Hara, Democrat

O’Hara has been a resident of Holt since 1977. The Western Michigan University graduate has been involved with public affairs for many years.

“I have been involved with public service all of my life,” O’Hara said. “I have a strong passion for it.”
O’Hara retired from the State of Michigan Department of Human Services after working there for more than 35 years. He said he couldn’t stay away, which is why he chose to run for a seat on the board of trustees.

O’Hara said there are three areas of importance in which he hopes to see improve. Those areas are: living within our means, infrastructure issues and economic development.

O’Hara said he is hoping community members who are registered to vote will get out and do so. He hopes voters will take the time to get to know each candidate.

“Listen and learn about candidates,” O’Hara said. “Be informed and get out and vote.”
O’Hara can be contacted by telephone at 517-694-5158.

Thomas Schlitts, Republican

Schlitts is running for Delhi Township trustee for the first time and says the job of a trustee is to look over the whole area.

“It’s really an oversight of the township as a whole,” said Schlitts.

A number of issues concern Schlitts, one being the sludge dryer, which he called a “never-ending problem.”

Schlitts said the township takes sludge from the sewers and drains the water from it, leaving only the sludge, which can then be used as fertilizer. The township board was going to pass legislation to have a new large dryer installed.

Schlitts said it still is a “hefty cost” for the people of the township despite the state being willing to pay half the expenses.

Schlitts said a petition was signed by the people of Delhi Township to bring the issue to a vote. The people voted against the dryer.

Despite the sludge dryer being voted down, Schlitts does not believe the issue has gone away.

“There is no reason why it can’t be done the same way it’s being done now. It’s fine just the way it is,” said Schlitts.

Schlitts is the co-owner of Tim Hortons on Cedar Street in Holt and has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver in business management. He can be reached by telephone at 810-956-4760.

DiAnne Warfield, Democrat

Warfield is running for re-election as a Democratic candidate. Warfield said she is all in for Delhi Township because she lives and works in the township.

Warfield joined the board of trustees earlier this year when she applied to fill a vacancy. After two nights of being interviewed, she was voted onto the board by the other members.

Warfield said she hopes the board will continue to help Delhi Township grow as a whole. There are a couple things she would like to focus on.

“I hope to see a greater sense of cooperation and ‘in it together’ for Delhi Township,” Warfield said. “As a board, we will continue to find ways to preserve a quality of life with diminishing resources.”

Warfield said she appreciates the voters’ consideration in allowing her to have this type of responsibility. Having her own children in school, Warfield said it is important to keep citizens involved. “Your vote for me will allow me to continue to serve the residents, from our active and involved senior citizens to our active and involved children,” Warfield said.

Warfield can be contacted via telephone at 517-694-1493 or email at warfieldd@gmail.com.

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