New Howard supervisor says his lack of political skills an asset

Published 6:49 am Friday, February 27, 2004

By By JAN GRIFFEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Michael Sutherland, Howard Township's recently-elected supervisor, knows he's stepping into a hotbed of political unrest in his new job.
Sutherland was elected last week to the job of Howard Township's supervisor.
However, he said he's hoping the fact he's not a politician will give him a leg up on trying to help settle differences and channeling his and others' energy toward working for the betterment of all residents of Howard Township.
Sutherland said, despite what some may think, he isn't aligned with any group or special interest.
Even though his candidacy was supported by some outspoken leaders of the Howard Township Watchdog group, which was responsible for the recall late last year of former township supervisor Hal Davis and treasurer Eileen Glick, Sutherland said he had nothing to do with the recall and knows little about motivations behind it.
He said he shared campaign materials, such as political flyers and yard signs, with fellow Republican candidate Shaune Timm because it was cost-effective to do so.
Timm was defeated by Democrat Amy Archer for the Howard Township treasurer's seat in the Feb. 18 special election. Sutherland defeated Democrat Gerald "Butch" Harrison.
In fact, Sutherland said his disgust with the public, back-and-forth bickering from both sides of several key issues leading up to the township's recall, led to his involvement. He said he was "embarrassed" for Howard Township, which prompted him to toss his name into the ring as a potential candidate for supervisor.
He's already started meeting with key players on some of the issues apparently responsible for division among some Howard Township residents, like the Moose Lake Aggregate issue.
The township board granted a conditional use permit last year to Moose Lake Aggregate, which allowed it to expand its operation in Howard Township. That move was stringently opposed by some Howard Township residents, most notably Larry Eckler, owner of Eckler's Produce and a member of the Howard Township Watchdogs group.
Sutherland said the Moose Lake Aggregate issue "seems to be" at least one of the driving forces behind those who recalled the former supervisor and treasurer, "though I need to get more involved to find out exactly what the problems are."
Sutherland said he has met with the four remaining members of the township board, each of whom survived last year's recall attempt, and thinks he will be able to work with each of them.
Sutherland is manager of Sutherland Farms at 2274 Yankee St., Niles. He and his wife of 31 year, Deborah, are the parents of two daughters: Laurel, 28; and Bree, 24.