Berrien, Cass County candidates prepare for primaries

Published 8:00 am Saturday, July 30, 2022

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN — Listed below are Q&As with local candidates from Berrien and Cass counties who are running for contested seats in Tuesday’s primary election. Included are only candidates who are running for the nomination of their party. Candidates for all open seats – and of separate political parties running against each other – will be offered the chance for a Q&A ahead of the November general election.

Congress

Sherry O’Donnell, of Stevensville, is running for Congress in District 5. She is a Republican candidate.

  1. Why are you running to represent your district as a member of Congress?

Our nation is in multi-system failure, and the establishment politicians are not doing their jobs. As a physician, I listen, manage symptoms, and treat disease. I am trained to determine the ultimate source of issues.  Our nation’s current trajectory is bleak.  It is essential that our elected leaders are not just solid conservatives, but ones who will fight for their constituents and get the job done to change the course of this nation.

  1. What do you hope to accomplish as a member of Congress?

Reagan wisely stated, “No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size.” I will work to get regulation under control freeing businesses to do what they do thereby releasing our economy.  My vision is a Congress that is fiscally responsible and a country that is energy independent. My vision is one where Americans are free to make informed choices for their families especially in regards to healthcare and education. My vision is for a freer America.  

  1. What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?

I am a problem solver, not an establishment politician. As a small business owner, I have successfully run an internal medicine practice for 21 years. I have led disaster relief in 33 countries.  Demonstrating dedication to my community, I founded Herbie Clinic, a free medical clinic for the under/uninsured. I founded a community outreach uniting the Church, community, and law enforcement in 2020.  Additionally, I am a minister, educator, and author.

Senate

Kim Lasata, of Niles, is running for re-election for State Senator in District 17. She is a Republican candidate.

  1. Why are you running to represent your district as a State Senator?

I am running for re-election in the 17th district because this is where I live and these are the people I’ve been blessed to represent and serve over the last four years. The good, hardworking families of southern Michigan deserve someone who listens to them and works everyday to fight for our conservative values and the issues facing our region. I’ve tried everyday to live up to that calling and will continue to do so.

  1. What do you hope to accomplish as State Senator?

I will continue to address our local issues and make sure law enforcement have the resources they need to keep our neighborhoods safe. We also need to do everything we can to put local families and businesses first, as they are suffering the most from high inflation. I will continue to fight back against inflation and work to cut red tape and taxes to lower our energy costs and bring down the cost of living. 

  1. What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?

As a former teacher and a true conservative elected official, I’ve learned to balance listening and leading. I’ve listened to our community and led the fight for parent’s rights in education, election security, and reducing inflation. I’ve worked my whole life to support our region, through teaching, community engagement, and as state Senator. I will never stop trying to make sure our voice and our values are represented and leading the way forward for Michigan.

House of Representatives

Brad Paquette, of Niles, is running for re-election as State Representative in District 37. He is a Republican candidate.

  1. Why are you running to represent your district as a State Representative? 

This is the time most needed to have leaders with a calm positive disposition standing for what is right. 

  1. What do you hope to accomplish as State Representative?
    1. Energy Policy – Opening doors for the technological advances of Nuclear Green Energy.
    2. Education – Empowering innovators to address parent/learner desires and bringing back the prestige to the profession.
    3. Tax Policy – Reducing the income tax rate here in Michigan and bring about a rationalization of the tax structure to make it more fair for all.
  2. What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?

I love my constituents and make it a point to always be available for discourse, especially in strong disagreements. I have also learned how to be an effective voice upholding my campaign promises in the midst of passionate opinions on all sides of issues. 

 

County Commissioners

Berrien County

Michael Majerek, of Niles, is running for Berrien County commissioner, district 12. He is a Republican candidate.

  1. Why are you running to represent your district as a Berrien County Commissioner?

I have worked for the community all my life. I went to St. Mary’s and Niles Community Schools systems. I was raised in Niles, and I knew I had many more years to learn about Niles. With my skills in organization and leadership, I can help create a better community for South County and keep the services we have and increase and expand our services for the future.

  1. What do you hope to accomplish as Berrien County Commissioner?

Right now, the county has many major decisions on where and when to rebuild or whether to fix what we have. Where do we spend our money now so we can save dollars in the future? The COVID-19 epidemic devastated our county, in both services and employment. With my employment skills in all the companies I have owned, I want to help rebuild the county’s support staff so we can serve the people of Berrien County with my knowledge in accounting and budgeting.

  1. What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?

I was on the Niles DDA when we facilitated the building of the Riverfront, the teardown of the Kawneer fronts, the development of the Skateboard Park and the Front Street Apartments across from the Riverfront, along with redesigning the DDA area and hiring Lisa Croutou. I have been President of five companies and a member of the Lakeland Foundation Board and many other organizations that will help in guiding our county into the future.

 

Cass County

District 5 Commissioner Seat

Mary Howie, of Edwardsburg, is running for Cass County commissioner, District 5. She is a Republican candidate.

  1. Why are you running to represent your district as a Cass County commissioner?

I love the State of Michigan and want to promote an ethical and open government by setting and

implementing policies that are in the best interest of the county. I look forward to participating in

long-range planning and managing county finances and a balanced county budget. I want to

bring county government to the citizens of Cass County by making decisions that are

transparent.

  1. What do you hope to accomplish as Cass County commissioner?

Protecting our constitutional rights as well as all of the amendments, especially the second

amendment. Agriculture and the Family Farmers of Cass County are great assets and the

protection of prime farmland from non-compatible land use is a must. I also want to promote

sensible and reasonable growth and the return of manufacturing in order to create jobs and add

to the economic growth of our county.

  1. What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?

As a resident of Cass County for over 30 years, I believe in hard work and getting the job done.

I have an extensive 19-year background in manufacturing, and the payroll service industry as a

Human Resources Director. I am organized and will do more than listen, I will follow-up on your

concerns. I will fight for you.

District 6 Commissioner Seat

Betsy Carls, of Niles, is running for Cass County commissioner, District 6. She is a Republican candidate.

  1.   Why are you running to represent your district as a Cass County commissioner?

I am running to represent Cass County as District 6 Commissioner to get rid of the establishment of corrupt politicians in our state with individuals that have honesty and integrity and truly work for “We the People”.

  1. What do you hope to accomplish as Cass County commissioner?

What I hope to accomplish as District 6 Cass County Commissioner is making the community better, fight for our God given Constitutional Rights, return public education decisions back in the hands of the parents, manage the budget with tax dollar accountability, infrastructure improvement, prevent mandates and shutdowns, support law enforcement, support small businesses and the farming community with deregulations and reduced taxes to encourage the businesses to stay in our community.

  1. What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?

I have a BBA Degree in Business from Western Michigan University. As an owner of a successful small business and a farm, I have extensive experience in running a business and farming. My primary customers are other businesses and farmers. I have regular contact and discussions with business owners regarding the difficult issues of business management in Michigan. I want to help change the economic climate in Cass County so that small businesses will thrive, thus improving overall prosperity for all of our citizens to bring back the great State of Michigan. 

Samuel Barrera, of Niles, is running for Cass County commissioner, District 6. He is a Republican candidate.

  • Why are you running to represent your district as a Cass County commissioner?

I’m interested in becoming more active in our local government to help make a difference in our community. I have 3 small children and it’s important to me to help keep Cass County a place where people want to raise a family. That means helping guide decisions that will improve our community not only today but paving the road for a better future.

  • What do you hope to accomplish as Cass County commissioner?

I hope to help bridge the gap between the elected officials/county employees and the board of commissioners by finding common ground and harboring a healthier work environment. A lot more can be achieved when a group of people works together more collaboratively towards the same goals.

  • What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?

I’m the average middle-class American. I came from nothing; everything I have was achieved through hard work and loving support from friends and family. Win or lose, God continues to open doors and if elected I’ll follow his path.

District 8 Commissioner Seat

Skip Dyes, of Cassopolis, is running for Cass County commissioner, District 8. He is a Republican candidate.

  1. Why are you running to represent your district as a Cass County commissioner?

I’m a life-long resident of Cass County, devoted to serving the community I love. Cass County government is a multi-million-dollar enterprise that demands and deserves experienced leadership. County employees and officials provide essential services, including law enforcement, courts, emergency management, veterans affairs, GIS, taxation, records, animal shelter, parks, drains, and economic development. I like the people, believe I represent them well, and want Cass County to be the best place to live and work.

  1. What do you hope to accomplish as Cass County commissioner?

I want to complete our work to restore and modernize the historical courthouse for county services and reuse of the annex for other community services. We have moved to the next challenge, working in collaboration with county partners on building systems and technology to optimize services and maintain financial stability. I want to expand relationships with townships and villages to enhance service delivery and seize new opportunities in areas like parks and recreation.

  1. What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?

I’m a proven consensus builder who can get things done. While serving as board chairperson the last two years, Cass County tackled long-avoided issues, addressing unused properties and unfunded liabilities. We also planned and carried out a smooth transition of administration. As a commissioner since 2010, I now thoroughly understand the role of county government and how it runs. I work well with county partners, having previously served 16 years as a township supervisor.

RJ Lee, of Edwardsburg, is running for Cass County commissioner, District 8. He is a Republican candidate.

  1. Why are you running to represent your district as a Cass County commissioner?

There is nothing that matters more to me than family, and the people of my community. I have two young sons, and a little one due in January. I am going to do whatever it takes to make it so not only my children have a bright future, but all the youth of Cass County do as well.  

  1. What do you hope to accomplish as Cass County commissioner?
  2. Be honest and transparent with the decisions I make. 
  3. Maintain a balanced budget, while also looking at ways to try to make the county more self-sufficient.  
  4. Support and strengthen Public Safety in the community 
  5. Support parental rights, and develop programs for the county youth. 
  6. Be willing to listen and work for the people of the community. 
  7. Support Agriculture.  
  8. What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?

I grew up in Cass, and know many of the people that live here. I also work as an Agronomist, and have many customers that live and farm within the county. I love our local fair, and strongly support 4-H and FFA. I am an active member of my local church where I teach the 3 and 4-year-old class, help with building maintenance, and event planning. I have an extensive background in Parliamentary Procedure which is how business meetings are organized and run. I am committed, dedicated, hard working, and want nothing more than to better our community.

 

Jefferson Township Treasurer

Debra Glaze, of Cassopolis, is running for Jefferson Township Treasurer. She is a Republican candidate.

  1. Why are you running to represent your community as Jefferson Township Treasurer?

I had the opportunity to be appointed as Jefferson Township Treasurer on March 1, 2021 and have enjoyed learning the position and being involved in township responsibilities. My job experiences also help me serve the township constituents.

  1. What do you hope to accomplish as Jefferson Township Treasurer?      

I hope to learn and perform my job so the property owners rely and have confidence their tax dollars are being applied properly.

  1. What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?

My prior job experiences have given me strong leadership, management and people skills. I’m a lifetime resident of Cass County and a strong believer in community first.