Name: Jeff HicksCity/Town: Delta TownshipCampaign Phone: (517) 708-2982Web Site: www.VoteJeffHicks.comEmail: Jeff@VoteJeffHicks.comEndorsements: State Senator Rick Jones; State Representative Deb Shaughnessy; Eaton County Prosecutor Jeff Sauter; Eaton County Sheriff Mike Raines; Delta Township Trustee Barb Poma; Delta Township Trustee Cara Dobie; Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce; Waverly Community Schools Board of Education President Britt Slocum; Kim Laforet, Delta Township Planning Commissioner; Gary Reed, Delta Township Zoning Board of Appeals Chair; Justin Himebaugh, Delta Township Economic Development Corporation Board; Barb Thorburn; Delta Township Parks Commissioner; Eaton County Commissioner John BolesDate of Birth (will appear only as age): 41Family: Wife Lisa of 17 years (teacher); two daughters Lauren (11) and Aubrie (8)Education/Degrees: BA, Political Science-Prelaw, Michigan State University; JD, Wayne State University Law SchoolOccupation: Real Estate and Business Law AttorneyCommunity Involvement: Delta Township Trustee; Delta Township Zoning & Sign Boards of Appeals; Delta Township Transportation Committee; Delta Township Transportation Committee; Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors-General Counsel; Michigan State University Alumni Association International Board Secretary; Michigan State University Green & White Political Action Committee Board of Directors; MSU Alumni Club of Mid-Michigan Board of Directors-Recording Secretary and Past-President; Michigan Office of Regulatory Reinvention’s Occupational Licensing Advisory Rules Committee; Rotary Club of Lansing Foundation Board of Directors and Past President (2007-2011); Lansing Sesquicentennial Foundation, Inc. Board of Directors; Ingham County Bar Association Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee (2006-2011); McLaren-Greater Lansing Healthcare Foundation Board of Trustees (2007-2010);Habitat for Humanity-Lansing Board of Directors (2005-2008)
1. What makes you more qualified than other candidates for this office? Jeff Hicks: Experience. I bring the most experience to this election. I believe that my advocacy and consensus building skills give me an identifiable edge. My career as a real estate and business law attorney is one of asking questions, defining objectives, gathering facts, making decisions based on those facts and research, and ultimately advocating for and implementing solutions. I respectfully believe that when you couple my experience as your Delta Township Trustee with my legal experience and skillset, I am the most qualified candidate. Additionally, my extensive community service sets me apart from other candidates and demonstrates my commitment to Delta Township and the greater Lansing region. If experience is the greatest teacher, then I respectfully believe that I maintain a distinct advantage over my opponents. All told, I am the only candidate with a proven record of success as Delta Township Trustee. Other candidates can offer promises. I offer experience, results and a proven record.2. Would you support a state tax increase to restore lost revenue sharing funds to your community? Please answer Yes or No in the first paragraph, then explain. Jeff Hicks: No. Through sound fiscal policy, Delta Township is in much better financial shape than other municipalities across the state. It would therefore be both shortsighted and punitive to the residents of Delta Township to support a tax increase that would balance the budgets of less fiscally responsible municipalities on the backs of our township residents. Unquestionably, a state tax increase would result in Delta residents paying out far in excess of what they would expect the township to receive from any revenues generated. Unfortunately, far too often we have witnessed our state legislators rob Peter to pay Paul. Bearing this in mind, there would be no guarantee that any new revenues generated by a tax increase would ever return to Delta Township. In a time when our residents continue to struggle financially, our residents simply cannot afford a new tax. I am far more comfortable allowing our residents to manage their hard earned money than I am with having Lansing bureaucrats do so.3. Should residents in your community be satisfied with road services? Please answer Yes or No in the first paragraph, then explain. Jeff Hicks: No. Eaton County Road Commission has jurisdiction over the majority of roads located in Delta Township. The Michigan Department of Transportation has jurisdiction over State trunk lines, such as Saginaw Hwy. as well as limited access expressways (I-96, I-496). The Township does not have jurisdiction over any roads and is therefore without authority to even plow them in the winter months. Delta Township and surrounding community roads continue to suffer from a decline in revenues. So long as Michigan continues to be a donor state when it comes to taxes related to our roads and bridges, we can expect our residents to express dissatisfaction regarding the condition and maintenance of our roads. In addition to declining revenues, road building costs have risen at an exponential rate. In a recent seven year period asphalt costs have risen 75%, concrete 32%, and salt has doubled. The current funding model is outdated. Without a change from our legislature, roads will continue to decline.
4. Should residents in your community be satisfied with park services? Please answer Yes or No in the first paragraph, then explain. Jeff Hicks: Yes. With over 850 acres of parkland, Delta Township residents enjoy some of mid- Michigans most beautiful parks. Thanks to our great Delta Patrol deputies, those parks are among the safest as well. I have consistently received positive feedback from our residents about the quality of our parks and our recreation programs. This tells me that Delta Township residents are as proud of our parks system as I am. I am proud to have supported our existing Parks and Rec. Department and the preservation of open green space. In addition to maintaining our parks, our Parks Department offers an outstanding compliment of recreation programs. From softball to Brunch with Santa, theres a program for all. Residents have come to expect and enjoy a broad range of programs and parks. In order to meet growing expectations and enhance the quality of life for Deltas residents, I will continue to proactively support our Parks and Recreation Department in its delivery of recreation, parks & other services.5. Should residents in your community be satisfied with police services? Please answer Yes or No in the first paragraph, then explain. Jeff Hicks: Yes. Deltas contract with Eaton County for police service evidences the great relationship that Delta Township has with the Eaton County Sheriffs Office. The agreement provides Delta Patrol with 30 employees housed in a sub-station in the township’s administration complex. Through conservative fiscal policies, we have kept the same number of officers on the road as we have for the past several years despite declining revenues. Delta Patrol has increased its commercial motor vehicle inspections to help ensure the safety of motorists traveling in the township and preserving our roads. Delta residents have also seen an increase in more timely information regarding traffic safety and crime prevention services through the use of education presentations and social media. Bicycle patrol hours have also increased ensuring safer neighborhoods, parks & pathways. Residents have every reason to be satisfied with our Delta Patrol and can expect outstanding services to continue for years to come.6. Should residents in your community be satisfied with fire services? Please answer Yes or No in the first paragraph, then explain. Jeff Hicks: Yes. Like the outstanding services provided by our Delta Patrol, Delta Fire provides services that are second to none. Township residents are very fortunate to have some of the best firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, staff and leadership around. Like our Delta Patrol, Delta Fire is a shining example of management and labor coming together to ensure that residents receive the best possible public safety services. Notwithstanding declining township revenues, Delta residents should be proud that the 2012 budget maintains excellent service levels in all of the areas that residents have grown accustomed to. Because our fire and EMS budgets have remained strong, Delta Fire has been able to continue providing the training, equipment, and personnel necessary to provide top tier services to our residents. Additionally, residents should be proud to know Delta Fire has been at the forefront of aggressively pursuing grant funding to leverage existing funds in order to acquire cutting-edge equipment.
7. Should residents in your community be satisfied with library services? Please answer Yes or No in the first paragraph, then explain. Jeff Hicks: Yes. From its rather humble beginnings, the Delta Township District Library has become one of mid-Michigans premier libraries. Averaging nearly 16,000 visitors each month and over 1,000 room reservations each year, our library has become the go-to gathering center for our township residents. Deltas library is the township building that receives the most laudatory praises, for its LEED Certified construction, beautiful interior, and helpful staff. Our library continues to offer new services and has readily embraced new technologies. Residents now have the option to "check out" ebooks and audiobooks via download anytime and anywhere through the Woodlands Downloadable Library portal. In addition to the library’s traditional book collection, a wide range of programs and classes are offered that appeal to a broad cross-section of the townships population. From the feedback I have received over the past four years, I know that our residents are more than simply satisfied with the library.8. Should residents in your community be satisfied with government transparency? Please answer Yes or No in the first paragraph, then explain. Jeff Hicks: Yes. I remain committed to a high level of openness in our local government. The right of the public to access information from the township and its elected officials is fundamental. Great care is taken to ensure that our township residents stay well informed. Every effort is taken to make as much information available to our residents as is made available to elected officials. Board member meeting packets (agenda & materials) are made available to the public at the same time they are to board members. Additionally, our various township departments go to great lengths to make relevant and timely information readily available to our residents. Decisions on issues that are likely to draw significant resident interest are not voted upon until the community has had sufficient time to provide feedback. I continue to hold office hours since first being elected in 2008 to help create a more open and transparent government by providing an additional venue for residents to address concerns.9. Should residents in your community be satisfied with property tax rates? Please answer Yes or No in the first paragraph, then explain. Jeff Hicks: Yes. Even though multiple school districts exist in Delta Township, our residents enjoy some of the most favorable property tax rates in the Mid-Michigan area for the level of services that they receive. This helps contribute to one of the lowest costs of living in the area. With that said, declining property values and current economic conditions have further complicated an already confusing state real estate tax system. I have supported efforts by our Assessing Department to educate property owners about the property assessment and taxation processes put into place by the State of Michigan. It is critical that our residents understand the guidelines and tax laws that assessors must follow, and how the current market conditions affect those guidelines. In spite of the challenges created by the decline in property tax revenue, I am pleased to have been able to ensure that the services our residents have come to expect have been maintained. Our residents deserve the best services.
10. Should residents in your community be satisfied with planning and zoning? Please answer Yes or No in the first paragraph, then explain. Jeff Hicks: Yes. Zoning & planning are among two of Delta’s most lauded services. Delta Township is fortunate to have some of the most experienced planners in the state of Michigan. I routinely hear from residents, builders, developers & businesses about what an absolute pleasure it is to work with Delta Township’s Community Development Department. Our zoning and planning officials remain dedicated to managing the Townships development in an efficient and equitable manner, all the while balancing the interests of diverse parties. They provide clear, concise and timely information to the public concerning planning and development activities within the township. The department & its outstanding staff provide efficient, one-stop service for applications, permits, licenses, variances, land divisions, zoning, and a myriad of other services. Deltas residents should be as proud as I am that our zoning and planning staff, and the department as a whole, are considered by many to be one of the very best.11. What are the three most important issues facing the city/village/township and how would you address them? Jeff Hicks: 1) Declining revenue- Continuing to provide outstanding services without increasing taxes requires new thinking. I will continue to explore regionalism opportunities to offer better, more cost effective and efficient services to our residents, all the while ensuring our autonomy. 2) Resident Participation & access to information- As Delta grows more complex and people’s thinking and sense of values become increasingly diverse, the need for new ways to disseminate information to our residents has also grown. I will continue to push for a variety of methods to ensure that resident feedback is fully considered, including the implementation of emerging technologies. 3) Economic Development- The shallow depth of our West Saginaw parcels continues to pose a significant challenge for redevelopment. Many existing structures are obsolete but cannot be torn down without losing their legal nonconforming status. I will continue to push for new zoning solutions to accommodate investment.12. What services do you consider vital and least eligible for cuts? Jeff Hicks: Public safety, infrastructure, and economic development are vital. Residents have made it clear over the years that public safety is the most critical of these three. I am pleased to have supported our current budget which reflects this priority, even in a period of declining revenue. Without a safe township, little else matters. I am proud to have made no cuts to our fire and police services. Infrastructure investment and economic development go hand in hand. Private sector productivity gains result from public infrastructure investments, in many cases with higher returns than private capital investment. Well-designed infrastructure investments can raise economic growth, productivity, and land values, while also providing significant positive spillovers to areas such as economic development, energy efficiency, public health, and manufacturing. Economic development is critical to aggressively pursue new and existing business investment in order to help rebuild our tax base.
13. Are you current in all tax, alimony and child support obligations? If not, please explain. Jeff Hicks: Yes as to taxes. I do not have alimony or child support obligations.