Foster, McKenzie lead SMC Board of Trustees race

Published 12:23 am Wednesday, November 7, 2018

DOWAGIAC — The Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees will welcome a new member, according to unofficial election results.

Though all votes were not in at the time of press at 11:30 p.m., numbers reported by Cass and Van Buren counties showed newcomer Elaine Foster in the lead of the race with 8,407 votes, and incumbent Keith McKenzie following with 7,097 votes, meaning Foster and McKenzie will fill the two seats open on the SMC board of trustees. Other candidates, Thomas Buszek and incumbent Todd Obren, had 5,280 and 5,923 votes respectively.

Foster said she was excited to be elected and said that she was grateful for the people who supported her during her campaign.

“If I’ve learned anything through this, I’ve learned how amazing people are in Cass County and what amazing friends and supporters I have,” she said. “I’m excited, and — not going to lie —  a little bit nervous [to be elected], because it is a change in the history of the college.”

As board member, Foster said she will focus on being present in the community and will lend an ear to residents within the college district.

“The one promise that I will make is that I will listen [to my constituents]. I will listen to what people want and need from the college,” she said. “This is a community college, and it belongs to all of us who live in Cass County and beyond. We all need to have an input in what our community needs. So, my one promise would be to for sure listen to what people bring to the board.”

Both Obren and Buszek said they would be disappointed to lose the election, but that they had the best interests of SMC at heart when they were running for the board of trustees.

Obren, who has been on the board of trustees since January 2015, said he ran for reelection because he believes in the importance of the college to the community and the results of the current board of trustees.

“[I’m] disappointed that I didn’t have the opportunity to serve,” he said.

Buszek, who ran a joint campaign with Foster due to shared they shared at the college, said that even though he lost the election, he was proud of the campaign his team ran, which had limited resources.

“[I’m] proud of the people of Cass County who did have a voice,” he said.

McKenzie could not be reached for comment on this article.