Perkins to make county board re-election bid

Published 10:20 pm Wednesday, April 18, 2012

In 2010, Zach Perkins was a 28-year-old political newcomer. So when he defeated incumbent John Klimek for the District 13 Berrien County commissioner post, it was considered a bit of an upset.

Zach Perkins

Perkins, now 30, says he has a combination of youth and experience that makes him the favorite in his re-election bid against Klimek this year. He officially announced his candidacy this week.

“I don’t know how young I am anymore. I hit a new decade this year,” he said with a laugh. “I have fresh ideas and good perspective.”

Perkins, a Notre Dame graduate and computer programmer, said he has “learned something new every day” during his first term on the county board and has drawn from the wisdom of former civic leaders, whom he meets with weekly.

“They share stories with me, and I can tap them for thoughts on how to handle different situations,” Perkins said.

Klimek, a Democrat, told the Star in an interview earlier this month he believes Perkins benefited from voters casting straight Republican tickets in 2010.

Perkins disagrees.

“My hope is voters in Niles are more sophisticated than that,” he said. “I hope my hard work earns votes my way again this time around.”

Perkins said the biggest issue facing the county is a tight budget that could get tighter with revenue-sharing cuts and the phasing out of the state personal property tax.

He also is concerned with the plan of moving the animal control center to the future county campus site in Benton Township.

“My thought is why move it further from south county and use their tax dollars to pay for it?” he said.

The last election was decided by just 45 votes, and Perkins said it could be close again.

“My plan is to get out, door to door and talk to people,” he said. “Find out the issues important to them and tell them my story.”