In Columbia Township, the only contested race is for the supervisor. The other offices with uncontested races are:
Clerk – Barry Marsh (R)
Treasurer – John C. Calhoun (R)
Trustees (4 positions) – Brent D. Beamish (R), Rick DeLand (R), Robin Tackett (R), Mike Trout (R)
Candidate: Robert M. Elrod (R)
Robert M. Elrod
Robert Elrod did not send in a profile. Elrod has been ill for the past several months, and unable to perform his duties as supervisor.
Candidate: Terry Mahr, No Party Affiliation
Describe your qualifications and experience for this office.
My positions in township government and community organizations along with my business experience qualify me to lead the township as supervisor.
Currently chairperson of the planning commission and vice-chair of the zoning board of appeals, I am also president and treasurer of my condominium association and serve on the Final Selection Committee for the Jackson County Top Teacher Award.
Through the years I have served on or had duties as an officer of the Columbia School Board, Columbia Education Foundation, Community Chest Board, Library Board, Historical Society, and Heart of the Lakes Jr. Woman’s Club, to name a few.
I was one of the organizers of the Brooklyn/Irish Hills Chamber of Commerce and served as its first executive director. In that position I secured one of three Pure Michigan grants for $10,000 and matching funds from Michigan International Speedway, organized the Irish Hills Tourist Council and grew the Chamber from 25 members to 140.
A community activist and volunteer since high school age, I managed the Fourth of July celebration for 15 years and co-chaired a winning millage campaign for Columbia Schools in the 1980s.
My past business experience includes ownership, management, and operations experience at every level of small business and corporations from a variety of business types, adding to my versatility in dealing with issues that arise.
I operated Brookfest campground for MIS races for 15 years, produced a variety of entertainment events there, and was the original producer of Arts in the Park. I co-managed the inaugural opening of the Champions Club at MIS. As downtown development director for the City of Jackson, I initiated a re-write of the city’s Tax Increment Financing Plan and managed the inaugural Eve on the Ave celebration.
As business manager for Superstars of Racing, Inc., I assisted with negotiating contracts with the leading competitors in each sport for licensed print calendars for the National Hot Rod Association, World of Outlaws and Bass Pro. As district manager for National Trailer Convoy (division of Pepsico), my transport office won several sales and safety awards. I have been employed off and on since the age of 16 by the Brooklyn Exponent as a columnist, feature writer, advertising salesperson and business manager.
I have led retreats and visioning sessions locally and for development projects at Coral Bay in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Explain your reasons for running. How would you be an asset to your local unit of government?
The short answer is I think I can do better than the current supervisor. I have been working “inside” government for a few years now. The level of leadership and the quality of decisions made in recent years are a cause for concern.
A supervisor’s job is to oversee and guide the work or activities of a group of people. I am a “people” person with proven leadership skills both in business and public service. I am a “let’s have a plan based on fact, not opinion, and get the job done” person.
My greatest assets are my ability and willingness to communicate and collaborate. I will use technology to build a strong communication connection with the rest of the board, office staff, department heads, and township residents.
I will use every tool available, including Facebook, email, and the township website. People have busy lives but can participate digitally and I will give them that opportunity. I will listen to all stakeholders and proactively seek to cultivate an exchange of ideas that will benefit the township going forward.
By communicating clearly, taking responsibility, and doing my best work, you will find I am a thoughtful leader who will represent our township with integrity and professionalism.
I want Columbia Township to offer a quality of life that will attract anyone who is looking for a community in which to settle, raise their children, or start a business.
I am a non-partisan candidate, but you will see my campaign signs in yards alongside signs supporting both national parties, a fact that is both pleasing and humbling.
Due to our current circumstances what are the most important challenges facing your community and how do you propose to address them?
It is my belief that COVID-19 is going to have a long lasting and immeasurable effect on how we live our lives in the future.
In the spring of 2020 businesses learned how to cut overhead with remote work. Educators found ways to teach outside of the classroom. Health care providers made a massive jump in online appointments. One economist says we advanced 10 years in the space of two months in the use of technology in all parts of our daily lives.
Our community needs to be ready for a new economy based on remote employment, a new lifestyle, a new social environment, and a new education system – all elements of our daily lives in constant change.
We need a strategic plan that prepares our township to meet the demands of the digital-native generation. For example, that might mean the township finds ways to fund broadband towers in certain areas.
We need to support our local commerce center. Some businesses will not survive this pandemic and every empty storefront could affect property values all over the township.
Future leaders need to have flexibility and agility, be accountable, know how to develop critical partnerships and have a commercial mindset.
I will do my best to be sure communication among board members, department heads, staff and township residents is timely, truthful, and transparent.
Tell us about your family.
I have a daughter, a son and daughter-in-law and five grandchildren. My children were raised here, attended Columbia Schools. I have grandchildren at every building in the district. We are a Go Eagles family!
What are your hobbies and/or interests?
I have many because I have a deep interest in learning. Outdoors, I enjoy lake activities, hiking, golf, nature, gardening, walking. Inside, I enjoy writing, reading, theater, music, yoga, sewing, crafts, games like Mahjong, Bridge, and other card games.