Large field of candidates will vie for MAC Board seats at 2023 Legislative Conference

Fourteen county commissioners from across Michigan have filed to fill five vacant board seats on the MAC Board of Directors in elections to be held at the 2023 Legislative Conference, April 24-26.

The 16-member MAC Board is the association’s governing body. It meets four times per year.

In these special elections, the following seats will be filled:

  • Region II, Seat A (would serve term to Annual Conference of 2024*)
  • Region III, Seat A (would serve term to Annual Conference of 2024*)
  • Region IV, Seat B (would serve term to Annual conference of 2026)
  • Region V, Seat B (would serve term to Annual Conference of 2024*)
  • Region VI, Seat B (would serve term to Annual Conference of 2025)

No director shall serve more than three full three-year terms, except in certain situations where a director is filling a vacancy in an unexpired term. If the elected replacement shall serve more than half of the unexpired term, it shall be considered as if such person has served one full term for purposes of term limits. If the person filling the vacancy shall serve less than half of the unexpired term, that person shall be permitted to serve up to three additional full 3-year terms. *Denotes a period of less than half of a term.

Election procedures

  1. Only commissioners who register for the Legislative Conference may participate in the regional caucuses that fill these seats.
  2. Regional Board seats are filled by elections in which each COUNTY gets ONE vote. The process is detailed in the attachments.
  3. The caucuses will begin at 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday, April 25 in the Lansing Center. (Exact room assignments will be released immediately prior to the conference.)

Each candidate provided a statement of candidacy with their filing. See below. (If you are not sure which Region your county is in, please consult this list.)

The candidates

Region 2

Neil Ahrens, Emmet County

MAC is an essential organization in support of the functioning of Michigan government in my opinion, a structure necessary for understanding the roles we all play in serving, and I have the time and capacity to serve.

As a fourth-term Emmet County commissioner, I have been instilled with the relevance and importance of MAC. My commitment to MAC is reflected in my work including serving on the Transportation and Infrastructure and the Agriculture and Tourism committees. I am proud that I have been joined by two other fellow Emmet County Commissioners to serve on MAC committees. The relationships forged with other commissioners as well as the MAC staff, has deepened my understanding of county governance.

I humbly ask for your support in my efforts to increase my service to Emmet County, and indeed, our state. Thank you all; it’s an honor to work with so many wise and caring people.

 

Lauren Flynn, Grand Traverse County

I am County Commissioner for District 2 in Grand Traverse County. Running for office has been a dream of mine since I was a young girl. Raised by politically and community involved parents and grandmothers, I always knew that the public sector had a place for me. I have lived in Grand Traverse County for 19 years. I have raised by two daughters as a single mother, and in doing so I have faced many of the issues that most of our constituents face in each of our counties on a daily basis. But I worked hard to overcome challenges, I finished my bachelor’s in business management and continued to finish my master’s degree in management. I got involved in my community and then decided to run for Commissioner in 2022.

As a new County Commissioner, I have been learning an immense amount of information every day and every week that I have been in office. I have taken this opportunity to educate myself even more on issues that face my constituents of my district and every citizen of Grand Traverse County. I have sat down with every other Commissioner on my board to introduce myself, learn more about what drives them to serve and figure out where we can come together to make Grand Traverse County the best county for people to work, raise their families and live the life they dream of. Serving in this position is the honor of my life, and I look forward to continuing this important work for years to come.

This is what brings me to throw my hat in for the Board of MAC for Region 2. I am asking the members of MAC for their vote to serve with the same grace and grit that I asked my constituents to vote for me in Grand Traverse County. I value the importance that MAC offers to our community. I look forward to working together to do more to make Michigan Counties able to their best for the citizens across the state. I promise I will serve honorably with integrity and positivity.

 

Art Jeannot, Benzie

I am in my fourth term as a Benzie County Commissioner. Included in my duties I am a member of the MAC Finance and Governance Committee for the past two years. Prior to this year, I served six years on the Northern Michigan Association of Counties. In addition, I conducted a breakout session at the 2023 new commissioner training in Roscommon at the request of MSU Extension. The subject matter was preparation for board meetings and conduct while in a board meeting.

My background has prepared me for a leadership role both in my community and at a state level. I have served in a number of leadership positions over a 30 year period to include Leadership Michigan (class of 2010), multiple EDC boards, Legislative Committee for the National Association of Mortgage Brokers and Northern Michigan Community Action Agency (Executive Committee).

My education is in business administration, with a graduate degree in banking followed by a 30 year career in that industry. The last 11 years was as President and CEO of a mid-size community bank. Since 2009, I have personally developed and own multiple housing projects targeted to low income and work force housing.

My interest in this board position is to improve my knowledge of state affairs and hopefully contribute to MAC leadership decisions. I invite you to contact me directly should you have any questions or comments.

 

Bryan Kolk, Newaygo County

I feel that I will be a particularly good candidate for this seat because of my extensive history with MAC and county government.

Involvement with MAC: I am a member of the MAC Judiciary and Public Safety committee (sixth year) and currently chair this committee. I am a member of the MAC General Government and Finance Committee (fourth year). Also, I am a Trustee for the Michigan Counties Workers’ Compensation Fund (fifth year) and on their Safety Committee (first year). I am familiar with MAC’s 2023 legislative priorities and have the privilege of working directly on the policy platforms with the above committees.

County Government: I began on the Newaygo County Board of Commissioners in 2017 and was elected in 2019 to be the Board Chair, a position in which I continue to serve. I’m proud to say that the elected officials in Newaygo County have an excellent rapport and working relationship. That is important in understanding the many nuances and how all of the different parts of government work together, which is so important as we face issues brought from other forms of government (local, state, and federal) as well as legal challenges from individuals, groups and businesses. We all have to work together in order to make the counties run well.

Other County Experience: I didn’t just happen into running for Commissioner. I did so after completing 32 years of service to Newaygo County as a Deputy Sheriff, where I held a number of different jobs within the department, all of which broadened my experience with not only the courts, dispatch and the Prosecutor’s Office but also such offices as the Clerk, Treasurer, Register of Deeds, Commission on Aging, Community Mental Health, Department of Social Services, Liquor Control Commission, the Department of Natural Resources, all 24 Townships in our County and the Michigan State Police, to name some. My biggest strength in these interactions was in my ability to see different perspectives of the same issue and then discuss and come to a reasonable conclusion.

Other Education: I hold an associate degree in criminal justice, a bachelor’s degree also in criminal justice and a master’s degree in criminal justice administration.

I will appreciate your consideration and vote at the conference.

 

Jarris Rubingh, Antrim

I represent District 2 in Antrim County. I live and work on our family dairy farm where we milk 400 registered Holstein cows twice per day. Our farm has been in the family for over 117 years. We also raise most of the feed for our cows and calves as trucking and hauling feed continues to increase in cost. We raise and fatten about 150 of our bull calves each year for beef. We grow approximately 600 acres of hay and 500 acres of corn for our cows. We keep our feed in silos and ag bags. My wife and children also help on our family farm and we have chickens, cats, and a few pigs.

I am running for the MAC Board because I want to make a difference not only locally but regionally. I feel passionate about our counties, our residents and our future. I want to see our region thrive economically, socially, environmentally, generationally and spiritually. I want our local businesses to stay strong. I want our relationships with our family, friends and neighbors to thrive and be transparent. I want to teach people to be good stewards of the land and resources we’ve been entrusted with, and I want this to be a place where our children and grandchildren grow and stay.

I currently serve as the Vice Chair of our County Board and am active in learning about the various committees I presently serve on, which include North Country Community Mental Health, Farmland and Open Space Preservation Board, Antrim Creek Natural Area, Capital Improvement Committee, Northern Michigan Counties Association, Soil Erosion, Sedimentation, and Storm water Runoff Appeals Board and Street and Road Numbering Appeals Committee. I also serve as one of the liaisons for the district and circuit courts.

If you would like to learn a little more about me, please go to YouTube and type “Jarris Rubingh” in the search box; a few years ago, I won a Michigan Farm Bureau Young Farmer Award and the Farm Bureau got some really cool drone footage on our farm.

Region 3

Ryan Laylin, Cass County

I am a Cass County Commissioner, resident of Silver Creek Township and dad to Kenley, age 9, and Paxton, age 6. I am currently serving my third year as a County Commissioner and am the Vice Chair of the Board of Commissioners. I own a local small business, Bros Chimney Sweeps, a growing company that specializes in cleaning chimneys. I also enjoy hunting, fishing and golfing.

Among the many boards and commissions that currently see my service are: Surplus Property, Courthouse Restoration, Capital Projects, Parks and Recreation, Kinexus, Market Van Buren, MAC Environmental Committee and MAC Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.

As a fan with good familiarity of MAC, have attended numerous conferences hosted by MAC. Why am I interested in serving on the Board of Directors and why should the members of Region 3 support me?

Here are my reasons for wanting to serve:

  • Just as I have shown in my time as County Commissioner, I will make the interests of MAC Region 3 a priority.
  • I have served on a variety boards and commissions and understand how a board needs to effectively operate.
  • I will listen, research, discuss and give my opinion. While I do not shy away from debate on important topics, I am open minded and interested in the perspectives and opinions of my peers and the people I serve.
  • I keep up to date on issues important to Michigan counties.
  • My flexible schedule allows me time to attend Board of Directors meetings.
  • As the Vice Chair of the Cass County Board of Commissioners, and in all other boards and committees I serve, I am a team player and I understand my role.
  • As evidenced by my ability to help get key, important ordinances and resolutions passed, I know how to get the job done.
  • As a small business owner, I am aware of the issues that affect small businesses in Michigan.
  • I know that southwest and west Michigan are unique parts of our state. What is good for other regions of the state may not work here. I understand the unique differences among the Counties in Region 3, and even though I live in Cass County, I will be accessible to anyone in the Region who needs my help and will advocate for our region.
  • If elected, I will do what is right and best for the Counties in Region 3.

 

Tom Matthew, Branch

I hope that I can make the case that I will be ready to work on day one. The 83 counties deserve a board member who can immediately get to work on their behalf.

I believe that my deep involvement in the communities, good relationships with fellow commissioners, government officials, appreciation for the diversity of our counties and a desire to empower my neighbors will allow me to hit the ground running as a MAC Board Member.

I look forward to working with you on behalf of the MAC. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Tami Rey, Kalamazoo

I serve as the Vice Chair of the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners. I am in the beginning of my second term on the Board.

I am very new to MAC but did have an opportunity to attend the conference last year, as well as meet some of the members at the MAC reception during the NACo conference last month. I am interested in serving on this board as I am always looking for opportunities to learn and grow.

I represent a very diverse district here in Kalamazoo and believe that I can bring a different perspective as well as new ideas and viewpoints to the Board.

 

Rick Shaffer, St. Joseph

Rick Shaffer is 40-year resident of St Joseph County and is widely known for his active service in healthcare and county government activities.

As a current County Commissioner, with over 20 years of service, he often refers to himself as the “historic voice of reason.” Widely known in St. Joseph County for his many years of advocacy for youth and senior programs, Shaffer 68, is a Registered Nurse. He currently works as the director of Outreach Patient Services (previous CEO ) for Covered Bridge Healthcare (Federally Qualified Healthcare Center ) in Centreville.

With over five decades, his career includes: funeral/ambulance service, pediatric nursing manager, nursing home administrator, 59th District state representative and director of Three Rivers Home Care and Hospice. In addition, he currently chairs the Community Mental Health Board and participates on multiple county boards, including Centreville Downtown Development Authority, Community Action Agency, Commission on Aging, Area Agency on Aging (3B), St. Joseph County Planning, Parks and Recreation and the St. Joseph County Animal Advisory Committee. His community volunteerism includes Rotary (past president) and the St Joseph County United Way Board. He was awarded/ recognized as Three Rivers Citizen of the Year by the local Lions Club. Through his church, he has made 20 annual trips, taking students to support medical activities in dental, medical and optometric services in Haiti and/or the Dominican Republic.

Rick and his wife Sara are grandparents, raising their two preschool grandchildren.

“As residents of St. Joseph County, we are fortunate to have high quality lifestyle opportunities,” Shaffer said. “We have an abundance of services including business, industry, recreation and health care. In addition, our seniors are able to take advantage of countywide transportation and take advantage of lifestyle social enrichment programs offered by our senior centers in both cities.”

As a long-time County Commissioner and former state representative, Shaffer has long been a supporter of MAC and the initiatives that it provides to Michigan counties and its Commissioners. He shares a desire to serve on the MAC Board of Directors, and pledges: “I will commit my time and broad based career experiences to support the MAC Board that advances communication and cooperation between Michigan’s county governments and the state and federal governments.”

Region 4

Irene Cahill, Ingham County

I work for the residents and citizens of Lansing as the Lansing forestry and cemetery supervisor. Through my work, I am privy to the day-to-day concerns of the residents of the city of Lansing and of my staff. Because of this, I am keenly aware of the need for our elected officials to engage with and support opportunities for today’s youth moving through public and higher education and on into the workforce.

In addition, I represent Ingham County on the Michigan Broadband Task Force, as well as Capital Area Michigan Works and Lansing Economic Development. I look forward to the opportunity to work with you in the future and serve our community.

 

Dwight Washington, Clinton County

I have been and would like to continue working toward improving community well- being through government on issues that are important for all of us. With your vote of support, I will provide my experiences and expertise in natural resource management, health and wellness and social services to our region and other Michigan counties.

I initially chose to run for office in 2016 to better our region’s environmental conservation, sustainable economic growth and community well-being. During my six years as a commissioner, I have held true to my values and have refined my skills to make necessary and essential decisions to maintain and improve the quality of life in my local community, and the Greater Tri-County region. My objective has been to make a positive difference by utilizing my education, my work experiences to support the social-emotional lives of youth, conflict resolution training and my professional passion to improve environmental policy and practices in private industry and government.

I am proud that my efforts to lead have earned respect and admiration of Democratic and Republican elected officials and staff in the pertinent state and federal government organizations around the state and country. I believe that democracy is strengthened and thrives with a united citizenry that is informed and empowered to act responsibly. In addition to local Board assignments, I have had appointments to many Mid-Michigan regional boards, including the Mid-State Health Network Substance Use Disorders Oversight Policy, Tri-County Office of Aging and Tri-County Regional Planning Commission. As a Michigan State University Spartan graduate, I proudly support the MSU Extension District Council. I am particularly passionate about being part of the Capital Area Community Services, and for having a seat on the Head Start Policy Council and the opportunity to advocate and enrich the quality of local early childhood learning environments for our youngest citizens.

Additionally, I have experience representing counties on state and federal committees. I am the chair of MAC’s Environmental Committee and serve on its Transportation and Infrastructure and Health and Human Services committees. I also serve as the MAC liaison to the Michigan Association of Local Public Health Board. I have also served on the National Association of Counties’ Health Steering Committee and Environment, Energy and Land Use Steering Committee.

Region 5

Sarah Lucido, Macomb County

I was thrilled to be elected to the 13th District on the Macomb County Board of Commissioners last year. Before that, I spent seven years serving the residents of my community on Eastpointe’s City Council. I know my community and I understand the issues that are facing municipalities and counties across Michigan. I want to run for the MAC Board to represent my constituents on the state level and to be advocate for the needs of local and county government across the state.

Although I have lived my adult life in Macomb County, I spent a large part of my childhood living in Roscommon County and I have family ties that stretch across the northern Lower Peninsula. My husband and I own property in Crawford County, and we spend a significant amount of time there each year. While, certainly not unique, I believe that my experiences and personal ties across Michigan provide me with some added perspective on the diversity of our state. It has made me hungry to learn more about the needs of both urban and rural Michigan. This is a big reason why I would love the opportunity to serve on the MAC Board.

I believe that I would be an ideal candidate for the MAC Board. I look forward to meeting more of you at the upcoming MAC conference and to working together to more Michigan forward.

 

Terry Marecki, Wayne County

There has never been a more pivotal time for local government leaders to get our boots on the ground to move our state forward in a unified way. Following the events in recent years, Michigan is in a strong financial position to better the lives of Michiganders, but to do so we need active and guiding leaders to shepherd the way. Wayne County is thriving, and as a County Commissioner, I have demonstrated my ability to foster an environment that promotes growth and prosperity.

I have been dedicated to serving my community for decades, and my experiences as a leader in education and at the city, county, and national levels will allow me to bring an added perspective to the board. My success working alongside colleges from many different backgrounds proves that I have what it takes to be a successful MAC Board Member.

I was first elected as Wayne County Commissioner in 2014, and I have greatly enjoyed and benefited from my work as a county leader over the past eight years. My current assignments on the Commission include serving as Chair of the Committee on Public Services and as a member on the Ways & Means Committee, Health & Human Services Committee, Benefits & Staffing Task Force and the Special Committee on the Criminal Justice Complex.

I serve as one of Wayne County’s representatives on the Detroit Zoological Authority, and I am active with the National Association of Counties where I serve on the Large Urban Caucus Committee and the Transportation Policy Steering Committee. Outside of my county work, I am involved in community organizations including in the role of Secretary for the Livonia Community Foundation, Chair of the Livonia Prayer Breakfast board, and honorary board member of the Livonia Public Schools Foundation.

Thank you for the honor of considering me for the MAC Board to represent Region V. I truly look forward to the opportunity to serve my county and state on a larger platform, and to work with leaders from across Michigan to advance our state for the better.

Region 6

Donald Jay O’Farrell, Iosco County

It is my wish to be a voice to represent the people of my region of northeastern Michigan on the MAC Board. We are in need of representation for this area, and I believe I could serve well in this capacity.

I currently serve as Iosco County chairman of the board. I have been District 5 commissioner for the last 12 years; chairman for the last three years.

I grew up in Whittemore, Mich., where I graduated from high school. I went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Michigan State University. I spent more than 32 years in law enforcement, retiring as a police lieutenant with the Pittsfield Township Police Department in Ann Arbor. I am a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command and of the 211th session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.

My wife Jennifer and I share four sons and six grandchildren. We were able to obtain our dream to move back to my hometown of Whittemore upon retirement.

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