Getting to know Osceola County Board of Commissioners candidates

OSCEOLA COUNTY — As the primary election rapidly approaches, the Pioneer asked candidates to answer questions about their candidacy in an effort to help county residents learn more about who is running for local office on Tuesday, Aug. 7.

Osceola County residents may see a change in the Board of Commissioners in the future as there are two opposed seats on the republican primary election ballot, one being the seventh district seat, for which Larry Emig is running against Sally Momany.

Additionally, current County Commissioner Alan Tiedt has chosen not to run again. To fill his seat for the fourth district, Timothy Michell is running against Robert Hoard.

James Custer is running unopposed for the sixth district seat as current County Commissioner Pam Wayne is not running.

Jill Halladay, Mark Gregory, Jack Nehmer and Roger Elkins, are all running unopposed for their current seats on the Osceola County Board of Commissioners.

Polls will be open to voters from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 7.

Why did you decide to run for the Osceola County Board of Commissioners?

Michell: I have always had an interest in serving the people. I have taught and coached in the public school system for 34.5 years. Now that I am retired, I would like to continue my public service

as the county commissioner of southeast Osceola County.

Hoard: First, because the current district county commissioner, Alan Tiedt, asked me to. I agreed because I want to serve the people of my district.

Emig: I have been an Osceola County Commissioner for a number of years and have been elected chairperson for the last three terms by my fellow commissioners. I believe that is due to the confidence in me as well as my leadership abilities. We have great department heads and staff who provide various services to the residents of Osceola County. I feel with my years of experience and knowledge of the “county system” there is still much I can be of help with. I represent the county on a number of boards that require a county commissioner ie: Northern Michigan Counties, Mich Works, and Area Agency on Aging, to name a few.

These boards have projects being worked on that I have been involved with as well. During my tenure, we have had additions to the courthouse and jail, and I’m pleased to report these bonds have all been paid off. The county has a balanced budget and solid fund balances to help balance the budget and to be available in lean times. One project we continue to work on is courthouse security. We want our staff and the public to be safe when doing business in our county facilities.

Momany: I decided to run for a commissioner seat after attending several meetings and listening to the problems that exist within our county. I feel the constituents need an advocate that will speak for them on the issues that are affecting our county. As a teacher, paramedic and now a medical death investigator, I have always been an advocate and a voice for those who have not been comfortable to speak. I also feel it is time for transparency on the board. All commissioners should be aware of all issues facing the county. Change is not always easy, but change is good. I feel it is time for a change in our Board of Commissioners.

What do you believe are the two most pressing issues facing Osceola County? Prioritize them. What, if anything, do you plan to do about these issues if you are elected?

Michell: The current main issue for Osceola County is the security of the county buildings and the coordination of emergency management of local school districts. Secondly, I feel that improved access of broadband internet and telecommunications is necessary. If elected, I will support the issues, research and seek additional revenues and grant monies.

Hoard: The condition of our roads. Jobs in our county. To answer what do I plan on doing about these two issues is simple, I will attend the commissioner’s meetings, ask questions and learn what is available, then work with the other commissioners to find ways we can resolve these problems.

Emig: I would say the financial health of the county and public safety are two key issues. Running the county is no different than running a business, and the county is a business. We work hard to

make sure we have a balanced budget per county policy. Our department heads are good stewards of taxpayers’ dollars. The department heads only request the tools they need to perform their functions. They take care of equipment and only request upgrades or new equipment when necessary. It’s a challenge for counties to maintain balanced budgets when costs continue to rise yet the income doesn’t always rise equally. We work hard to be creative in acquiring more revenue by keeping cost down, looking at our fee structure and employees contributing to their benefits. The County is financially sound and I’d like to make sure we continue in that direction.

Public safety is important to a community. For Osceola County, that means our Sheriff’s Department, ambulance service, and emergency management. Crime doesn’t take a holiday, people get sick or get into accidents, and sometimes we have a significant weather event. All of these public safety agencies help in these situations. The county residents have supported these programs and we appreciate that. We have major highways go through Osceola County from the north to the south and east to west. When someone needs assistance, they expect them to respond quickly. I will continue to support these programs that provide important services to our county residents.

Momany: First and foremost is the budget. The county experienced a million-dollar deficit last year. There were many cuts that had to be made to compensate for that deficit. Part of the cuts came to employees in the form of benefits and insurance. That is not always the best way to keep morale high or keep positive working conditions. In the past, working for RCAPS, I have been a part of creating ways to reach a balanced budget. Although not easy, it can be done if each department gives a little, while continuing to keep high morale as a priority.

Secondly is transparency. I feel there needs to be open communication with employees, supervisors and the public. All the above should be able to address their commissioners without fear of retaliation. Their voices should be heard. Commissioners need to be available to employees and constituents. I would like to see our Board of Commissioners out among the departments learning what is going on and what needs to be fixed. Only with communication and transparency will that be accomplished.

If new resources were available, what one area of services would you feel most needs additional resources?

Michell: I would like to see full-time ambulance availability throughout all four corners of the county.

Hoard: Bring in high speed internet to every household and business in Osceola County. This would allow residents and visitors to conduct business from their homes and vacation sites. It would also make our county more desirable for businesses to establish here.

Emig: I would have to say our maintenance department. We have a number of buildings and grounds to maintain and our guys work very hard and do a great job in maintaining them. Other avenues of revenues/grants would be helpful in upgrading equipment, courthouse security and staffing to name a few. Sometimes it feels like we are tight on space and there may be a time we need to expand. We would look at facilities and a possible increase in parking areas. These are issues I’m sure we will discuss in the future.

Momany: At the current time our EMS and sheriff departments need additional resources. Our paramedic staff has not been full for at least the last five years. Working closely within the department I feel our board could put together a plan to draw in new paramedics with a positive incentive program. We need to improve morale within the department and put four ambulances running daily in our county. At the Sheriff’s Department I would like to work on a plan to bring in revenue through our jail that we have lost to other counties. Looking at grants we could also improve our fleet of cars and equipment. Having written grants successfully in the past for my classroom, I’m sure we could secure grant funding to help both departments.