By Dylan Sowle
Williamston Post staff writer
With the election drawing near, Williamstown Township residents will have the opportunity to vote again for township representatives, including four spots for trustees.
Incumbents Rick Williams and Robert Hayes are running against three other candidates. Trustees oversee much of the activity and decision making that go on in a township.
The candidates answered a few questions about their background and what they plan to do if elected:
How long have you served as a trustee in Williamstown? How will that experience help if you get re-elected?
Robert Hayes: “Six years. Obviously I have some history, more than most. Being involved in the community helps, and also building relationships with other board members and elected officials. I have respect for them, their decisions, and their comments. The experience means you take them more seriously and have respect for them. I was previously on the township planning commission for about 14 years and I understand the process there.”
Rick Williams: Six years. I’m a graduate of the township government academy. I’m the only person from the township that’s done that. I’ve worked on a lot of issues, including the cell towers and alternative energy. I’ve learned an awful lot.
What elected position do you currently serve in Williamstown? How do you think that your experience with that position will help if you are elected as trustee?
Rod Imhoff: I have served on the township planning commission for five years. I have more knowledge about the planning, zoning and ordinances for the township. I attend both planning commission and township meetings, so I know what residents want and are asking about.
Janet Eyster: I have been treasurer on the board for five years. I’ve learned that if you know where the money is going, you know what’s happening. I’ve gained knowledge from the inner workings and goings-on of the township.
Wanda Bloomquist: I have been a planning assistant on the planning commission for a couple of years now. It has helped a lot. I take minutes for the board and planning commission. I work with residents and all their zoning questions and I know what they are asking.
How exactly would you describe the job and the role of a trustee in Williamstown?
Hayes: To keep an eye on the workings of the township. The job is twofold. First, you must represent the citizens and be available for people’s questions and concerns. The other is traditional, overseeing budgets and expenditures and being part of the decision-making.
Williams: First, we are a fiduciary to the township and their money. We have to make sure everyone else does their job as well. We are watchkeepers of the township. We promote what we think are the best policies and we are protectors of the township.
Imhoff: To know the laws, the legality of what can be done, and to know what residents want. To keep abreast of ordinances. Working with the rest of the board on determining what the township needs, and to work on the budget.
Eyster: A trustee has the responsibility of the overview of the work of the other officers. They take responsibility for participating in certain areas of the township … each is assigned to a specific area.
Bloomquist: To make sure the township is following the views of the residents. And to make sure they are good stewards of the funds that are received.
If elected to a trustee position, what would be your major areas of concern, or issues you’d want to focus on?
Hayes: Things are running smoothly and we have good elected officials. The current board is doing a great job. One thing is, we had the county board cut the sheriff’s budget significantly… and our township did vote to secure services with another agency. They now provide police services…and I’d like to see that continue.
Williams: First is the road system. Only 18 percent of our roads are above fair condition. We should really be concentrating on that. We need more funds from the county and state and need to find ways to cut costs. We’ve made great improvement in our park system and structure. I’d like to see more of that. We eventually want a trail going between Meridian Township and Williamstown.
Imhoff: I would try to follow the master plan and keep the north half of the township rural.
Eyster: Major areas would be working with road maintenance issues. It’s obviously a long-term financial issue, with road resurfacing involved. Also, working with the treasurer to closely watch the finances of the township.
Bloomquist: The biggest issue is road maintenance. We need a fair and equitable way to maintain roads that the residents would respect. It’s an expensive task, so it will take a lot of time.
When it comes to the budget, what areas do you think are important to focus funds towards?
Hayes: Right now we’ve got a balanced budget. We should continue to provide the same services that residents expect. We have a reserve for when times are tough and we need extra funds, but we seem to be doing fine without that. Roads are bad but we can’t fix that right now. We’re doing that in a cycle, contributing some money every year.
Williams: We have a responsibility to support all areas of the budget. There’s no areas we can cut. We have to support all areas currently in progress. We need to find ways to stretch our dollar, but right now it’s a fair budget.
Imhoff: We need to focus on repairing roads and less on assessing. We should keep police taxes in mind, and what residents are paying compared to the actual charges.
Eyster: We need to maintain our services but we need to look at how we can trim costs from them. And also maintain more of our roads.
Bloomquist: Again, road maintenance is an issue that will require a lot of money.
What would you say makes you the best candidate to fill the role of trustee in Williamstown?
Hayes: My experience. I can fall back on my trustee experience, and I was on the planning commission before that. Also my education, and my business experience. I own my own business as a consultant.
Williams: I have experience. I’ve served over 25 years in various offices. I’m a graduate of the academy and that goes a long way. Anyone can get elected if they get the most votes. It’s what you know that’s important.
Imhoff: I was born and raised in this township. I’ve spent the majority of my life here, I know a majority of the people, and attend a majority of the board meetings. Being on the planning commission has kept me up to date with ordinances.
Eyster: I have a broad understanding of all activities of the township. That is very helpful in understanding the issues that come before the trustees.
Bloomquist: I have a well-rounded respect for the people in office now. And I believe that every resident deserves to be listened to.
The election will be on Nov. 6, 2012.