2016 is the fifth time Green Party Candidate Tom Mair will challenge Christine Maxbauer to be County Commissioner for District 2 in Grand Traverse County, the first time being in 2008. Mair has steadily increased his supporters from 29.85% of the vote in 2008 to 44.48% in 2014. He lost to Maxbauer that year by only 421 votes. He received 1774 votes to her 2195.
The political climate of the past year, including Maxbauer’s OWI charge, could help him edge out the incumbent candidate this year with many voters upset about the recent changes since Tom Menzel became the new County Administrator and what that has meant to the County. One of those changes includes the loss of two full-time Animal Control Officers and the services they provided. The County is currently in the process of hiring two part-time Animal Control Employees which you can read about here.
The Animal Control Division remains in the Health Dept. after almost a year of discussions and Sheriff Bensley refusing to take it over, citing inadequate staff and resources. The County intends to pay for the two part-time Animal Control employees (one an Officer and one a Specialist) only using current fees, mostly the money that comes from dog licenses. There has been no public support from any Commissioners or Administrative staff about using any general funds or Health Department funds to bolster the Animal Control Division.
Mair, a dog owner himself, stated that he thinks the Commissioners never should have eliminated the Animal Control Division to begin with. He says, “In the County Board and County Administrator’s rush to save money, balance the budget, and pay for health care and retirement of employees – the County wrongly cut Animal Control.” He believes that the County should immediately hire the two part-time positions and when the new Board forms, they should discuss two full-time officers and one part-time position. He believes that if license fees don’t cover the Division, that money should come from the County.
Pet Friends Magazine contacted Christine Maxbauer in an effort to include her as part of this article by asking questions pertaining to Animal Control but she did not respond.
On the Vote411 website, Mair says, “I can do a better job representing the people who live in Grand Traverse County than my opponent (Maxbauer).” He also said “First, I believe that in the current Commission, that the majority of Commissioners have been causing serious problems for the last 2-5 years. This all became evident when the Director of Parks & Recreation left. The first priority is to raise the morale of all the county employees. By changing who sits on the Commission – it will be a good start. Second, is to study the budget with the new Director of Finance. We need to retain our good employees – not shock them into a state of low morale which lowers quality of service. Our employees need to actively take part in the budget process and be rewarded for good work.”
Mair has experience as a Traverse City Parks & Recreation Commissioner and as a Manager setting up airport screening and security systems with the U.S. Dept. of Transportation. He has immersed himself in the community to make it better and has participated in a multitude of City, County and Township meetings over the years. Mair is a Manager in Artist Development and went to college at Ferris State University and Western Michigan University.
The Green Party is a party that supports ecological wisdom, social justice, grassroots democracy and non-violence as their “four pillars” all around the world. They believe that “we the people” control the government.
Voters who are voting a straight party ticket as a Republican or Democrat can make an exception to vote for Mair as their Commissioner on a split ticket.