Bradfield challenging Sutherland in Howard race

Published 9:09 pm Thursday, July 29, 2004

By By JAN GRIFFEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Howard Township voters will choose candidates for trustee and supervisor in Tuesday's primary election.
Incumbent supervisor Michael Sutherland is being challenged by Craig Bradfield.
Bradfield, who is currently a township trustee, survived a recall attempt by a group of Howard Township residents who formed the Howard Township Taxpayers Watchdog Group.
That group was successful in unseating former Howard Township supervisor Hal Davis and former township treasurer Eileen Glick.
Sutherland was elected supervisor in a special election held Dec. 15, as was Amy Archer, treasurer.
Gerald Butch Harrison is seeking the Howard Township supervisor's post as a Democrat. He will face either Sutherland or Bradfield in the November general election.
Archer, a Democrat, is seeking a full term. She's being challenged by Republican Shaune M. Timm, whom she defeated in the special election on Dec. 15. Neither faces a challenger in Tuesday's primary election.
Incumbent trustees George Johnson and Mike Richmond, who both survived last December's recall, are seeking new terms.
Also seeking trustee's position are Lucy Eckler, Shelby Farmer, Irving Frost Jr., Michael Mitchell, Mike Richmond and Nelson Slavik.
Eckler, Richmond and Slavik were active with the group who launched last year's recall effort.
Voters will choose four from the field of seven Republican trustee candidates.
As Democrats, Emery L. Hirschler and William E. Wozniak are seeking positions as Howard Township trustees. They will face the four top Republican vote-getters in November's general election.
Incumbent Howard Township Clerk Shirley Tuttle, a Republican, is running unopposed in Tuesday's primary election. She faces no Democratic challenger in November's general election.
Craig Bradfield
Bradfield, 57, has served in a variety of capacities in Howard Township for the last 10 or so years.
He and his wife, Donna, have two grown children and one granddaughter.
Bradfield is a licensed building contractor who specialized in remodeling.
Bradfield's first attempt at elected office in Howard Township was a number of years ago, when he ran unsuccessfully for township trustee. At that time, he lost the election by just 21 votes.
However, two years ago, Bradfield was elected township trustee.
Since serving on the township board, Bradfield has been appointed back to the township's zoning board as the board of trustees' liaison and also served on the township's zoning board of appeals.
Issues of particular interest for Bradfield include finding a way to strengthen the township's volunteer fire department, eliminating transient truck traffic on Barron Lake Road and adopting a property maintenance code in the township.
Bradfield also said he wants to continue work with the Howard Township Road Committee.
Some of the trucks traveling Barron Lake are going to or coming from one of the gravel pits on the road. However, he said much of the traffic is simply truck drivers who are taking a convenient "short cut between M-60 and M-51.
He also said the township's existing ordinances for dealing with dilapidated or abandon houses and buildings is inadequate.
Michael Sutherland
Sutherland, 54, and his wife, Deborah, have two grown daughters. He was born and raised in Niles, where his family operated a farm on Yankee Street, the same one he manages today, raising corn and soybeans on 175 acres of land. He left the area for a little more than 10 years, but has been living here since 1985.
His family has been farming since the 1940s. His mother, Mercedes Sutherland, 92, still lives next door to Sutherland, also on the family farm.
Sutherland entered Howard Township politics when he was elected supervisor a little over eight months ago.
He said he doesn't "believe in career politicians and I doubt I'd seem more than one four-year term, but it the township wants me, I would be glad to serve for four years."
Sutherland said he would like the opportunity to see through several current issues, namely the disposition of the lawsuit by Howard Township farmer Larry Eckler against Howard Township and the reduction of truck traffic on Barron Lake Road.
He said Eckler's suit contends the conditional use permit issued to Moose Lake Aggregate was not properly issued. Cass County Judge Michael Dodge dismissed Eckler's suit, saying it wasn't filed during the required 21 day time period, Sutherland said. However, the Court of Appeals in Grand Rapids, after a hearing held July 7, agreed with Eckler and sent the case back to Dodge to be heard, Sutherland said. No court date has been set, he said.
He said he would "rather not comment" on his opinion about the lawsuit. "I will leave it up to the judge to decide whether it was done properly or improperly."
Sutherland said truck traffic on Barron Lake Road is a serious issue, likely to become even worse when the City of Niles begins road improvements on its Fifth Street corridor.
Sutherland said a great deal of the Barron Lake Road truck traffic is "interstate truckers, through truckers, using Barron Lake Road between M-60 and M-51.
Sutherland, in addition to his work in Howard Township government, is an elder at the First Presbyterian Church in Niles, past master of the Niles Masonic Lodge and is currently on the board of general purposes for the Grand Lodge of Free and Associated Masons.
In addition, Sutherland is in his fourth year as president of the Bend of the River Conservation Club.