Archived Story

Meet the Candidates: Cass County Commissioner — District 5

Published 11:36am Monday, August 4, 2014

Paullean Washington (D) and Robert Zilliak (R) are running unopposed in the primary election for Cass County Commissioner in District 5. They will oppose each other in the general election in November.

PAULLEAN WASHINGTON (D)
Age: 64
Residence: 2255 Moulder Dr Niles Mi 49120
Education: Associate Degree
Professional Background: Truck Mechanic
Occupation: Mechanic
Political Experience: Howard Township Park Board, Cass County Park Board, Woodlands Behavioral Health Board of Directors,
Civic Involvement: NAACP of Niles, Niles Noon Optimist, Ferry Street Resource Center
What will be your top priority if elected to office? To inquire and know, where and how our tax dollars for the County of Cass is being spent. Whether on assisting seniors or veterans and/or maintaining our public government buildings and roads through the road commission, it’s about getting 97 percent of our tax dollars worth for the people of Cass County.
Name three core values that define your political outlook: To assist seniors and veterans, with affordable, healthcare, prescriptions, housing with wheelchair accessible, and mental health for families. Maintaining roads with money allocated through the road commission, for repairing of potholes and outdated road surfaces.
What makes you the best candidate for the job? I am on the NAACP Chapter of Niles, Noon Optimist, that pertains to children, Ferry Street resource Center Board of Directors, pertain to DHS ,Veterans, Housing, (resume, job search), Woodlands Behavioral Health Board of Directors, (drug, alcohol, mental health). My involvement in the community, is to help get to the bottom of it.
What professional/political accomplishments are you most proud of? Working with my father in his garage, at age 9, I wanted to be a truck mechanic. After being a parent four times and going to school at night, I went to trade school, College and Graduated with Honors being the only woman in my field. Now retired from Michigan Department of Transportation. My four children graduating high school and college.
How do you think you can impact southwest Michigan’s future? Remember when you were young, and going downtown Cass, to the ice cream parlor, how American the buildings were? Growing up, and seeing the economic development, on the downtown buildings, and knowing we as a people, will have to vote as a tool, to bring downtown Cass back as it was.
What is the biggest challenge our region faces? How would you address it? Food Banks: Foods that can be prepared with the lest amount of a person’s time and energy. Housing: For Seniors Only. And Vets with families, with Mental Health Advocate on hand. Intergovernmental Corporations: Grant and Matching Grants, to be used, that best serve the people of Cass County.

ROBERT ZILIAK
Age: 66
Address: 70167 Winding Pines Pkwy, Niles, MI 49120
Education: Purdue University – BS degree, Indiana University – APICS Certificate, Notre Dame University – Real Estate License and Southwestern Michigan College – Enrichment Classes, IVY Tech – Auto Cad, Word, Excel, PowerPoint
Professional Background: Over forty years working in Materials Management
Occupation: County Commissioner
Experience: County Commissioner District 5 – 12 years: Past Chairman of Board of Commissioners; Committees Served: Emergency Management, Plat Board, Southwest Michigan Solid Waste Consortium, Veteran’s Affairs Committee, County Administrator/Controller Search Committee, Vintage Courthouse Preservation, Historical Commission, Claims Committee, Hiring Freeze Committee, Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, SMART Committee, Ad-Hoc Road Commission; Size and Benefits Committee, NATs Committee, Ad-Hoc Parks Committee, MAC Agriculture and Tourism Sub Committee, Ad-Hoc Building Committee, Elected Officials Ad Hoc Salary Committee, Land Bank Authority, Budget and Capital Improvement Projects Committee and MAC Judicial & Public Safety Committee, MAC Transportation Committee; Township Clerk – Eight Years – Elected Office; Township Board of Review Chairman – four years; Township Planning Commission Member – four years; Concerned Citizen – 39 years
Civic Involvement: For 12 years I have volunteered at the county wide Household Hazardous Waste Collection and have organized and Chaired the event for three. I have been instrumental in obtaining the Tire Grant Awards from the State and organizing this event. The picking up of Trash along US12 and working at both the Milton and Howard Township “Trash Days” keeps the re- cycling momentum going. I help with the packing and distribution of Thanksgiving Baskets and also volunteer at the Niles Senior Center.
What will be your top priority if elected to office? My top priority is fiscal responsibility and economic development for the county while maintaining the agricultural climate that currently exists. I strive to save money for the county and taxpayer in any way I can.
Name three core values that define your political outlook: My three core values are: 1. Continue to provide the necessary and critical services that the residents expect. 2. Make sure Cass County has the appropriate tools, training and leadership to handle any natural or manmade emergencies and 3. Continue to support and assist the Sheriff’s Department in their efforts to curtail all illicit drug activities.
What makes you the best candidate for the job? For 12 years I have attended both the Milton and Howard Townships board meetings and I am well aware of the numerous issues facing the townships and their impact on the county. By voting for me you will re-elect a commissioner with a proven track record of representing and looking out for the best interests of my district and the county.
What professional/political accomplishments are you most proud of in your life? It has been my privilege to serve both my community and my constituents with my election to office. I am proud to say I have served as a County Commissioner for twelve years and as a Township Clerk for eight years.
How do you think you can impact southwest Michigan’s future? Because of my leadership at the county level I have been able to improve our credit rating which allows the county more latitude in determining its future. In addition, I have supported the construction of non-motorized trails which brings economic development into the community and helps keep the millennials here upon graduation from college.
What is the biggest challenge our region faces? How would you address it? A shrinking tax base has made it a real challenge to balance the county, state, and national budgets. Because I have been involved in developing twelve annual budgets for the county and eight for the township, I am aware of how cuts must be made when revenues shrink. I have been there in the past to make difficult decisions and am ready to make them again. In addition, the BOC’s must investigate other means to generate revenues without increasing property taxes.
Other comments: These are strengths and qualities that I bring to the table – When you think of them, please think of me: Experienced, truthful, frugal, impartial, conservative, patient, honest, nonjudgmental, hardworking, inclusive, practical, fair-minded, dedicated, progressive, innovative, accessible, self-motivated, patriotic and ethical.

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