ELECTIONS: Redrawn districts create new challengers for Osceola County Commissioners

Voters will decide in August election

Voters in Mecosta, Osceola and Lake counties will have the opportunity to make their voices heard in several elections in 2022.

Voters in Mecosta, Osceola and Lake counties will have the opportunity to make their voices heard in several elections in 2022.

Pioneer image/Ronald DeBrock

OSCEOLA COUNTY — The August primary is fast approaching, and Osceola County voters will be seeing some familiar names, as well as some new names on the ballot. 

The primary election provides voters the chance to select a candidate to be a political party’s nominee for a given office in the general election.

Current commissioners Mark Gregory (R), District 2; Dave Turner (R), District 3; Timothy Michell (R), District 4; and Sally Momany (R), District 7 are all running unopposed.

Current District 1 commissioner Jill Halladay (R) is being challenged by Gregory Gydesen (R) and Joshua Brock (R) for the seat.

With the realignment of the district boundaries, current District 5 commissioner, Jim Custer (R) and current District 6 commissioner Roger Elkins (R) will be competing for the District 5 seat.

Scott Stieg (R) is running unopposed for the District 6 seat.

The Herald Review reached out to local candidates on the ballot, however, not all responded prior to publication.

Why did you decide to run for election to the county board of commissioners?

Gydesen: I have been on the Lincoln Township Fire and Rescue for over 30 years.  I am a level 2 fire fighter and a medical first responder, and I have always wanted to support my community.  I retired about a year ago and I thought, since I have some extra time now, I could devote some additional time to the benefit of the county.

Brock: For me it was a matter of being a representative of the public – I enjoy being in the public hearing what people think and have to say.  I am a level-headed person and I want to give a shot at contributing to my community. There are things that people have brought to my attention that I would like to learn more about. I am trying to understand why we lack certain things and why things aren’t getting taken care of.  I need to be doing more research, but I can only do so much as a regular citizen.

Elkins: I have served as a county commissioner for almost 12 years.  For the most part, I have enjoyed being a commissioner. Experience and board history are valuable assets to bring to the board.

What do you feel are the most pressing issues facing the county right now?

Gydesen: I have gone back through the meeting notes for the past six months for the board of commissioners and the committee of the whole, and I think the biggest issue they have right now is being able to provide adequate resources to operate the services they provide to the county – whether it is EMS, Fire & Rescue, or police services – just to name a few.

Brock:  I have read over the last few months meeting minutes and it seems there are a few issues right now with the county. One issue is police officers taking cars home and the substantial amount of money it is costing the county. These are things I haven’t really thought about before, but I would like to see how much we are spending and where. That is just one of the bigger questions I have been asked about.

Elkins:  On the August primary there are three millage request which I fully support.  If any of these fail the board will have to make decision on a future course of action.  
Within the county, and state wide, there is a shortage of EMS and law enforcement personnel.  Retaining county employees in all areas is vital.  

How will you tackle those issues if elected?

Gydesen: The first thing I would want to do is do a comparison with the surrounding counties to get a feel for what their benefits and compensation package is like for their employees to see if Osceola County is comparable and look at modifying or updating our compensation packages to be more competitive in the marketplace. 

Brock: I will need to have more information before I look at how to change anything. Right now, I don’t know where the problems lie, and I would like to know information before I try to tackle the issues. I would need to see what the issues are and then proceed in figuring out how to handle the issues.

Elkins: The commissioners has already taken action to increase wages along with other contract changes for EMS and sheriff department employees.  Future changes for nonunion employees will follow.  Attracting and retaining quality employees is essential to the county.

Why should people vote for you?

Gydesen: I have been involved in the local fire department for over 30 years and have lived in this community all that time. I want to continue to provide a benefit to the community. I am a problem solver, and I am thoughtful in problem solving and addressing issues and concerns.  I will not be swayed by bias of one person over another. You have to weigh all the pros and cons of each issue and make decisions based on the benefit for growth and promotion of the community.

Brock: I am a mechanic by trade, and when I see a problem and I can understand what the problem is, what I do for a living is figuring out why this is happening and trying to fix it. I feel like having these problem solving abilities is a big advantage. Being the young person that I am, I can bring a different perspective to the board. I have lived in the are my whole life. I know a lot of people and if I can, I would like to continue to be a representative for the people who know me and who get to know me over a long period of time. if they like what I am doing, then I hope to keep doing that for them.

Elkins: I will listen to opinions and always welcome questions.  I’m proud of my record of service and look forward to continued service as a county commissioner.

For more information on polling places or to view a sample ballot, contact your local clerk’s office or visit michigan.gov/elections.