There are two people running to become Antrim County Commissioner in District #4. The newly drawn District #4 includes most of Custer Township and the western half of Mancelona.
Republican incumbent Brenda Ricksgers is challenging Jason Helwig, another Republican incumbent, in the August primary.
The answers for Brenda Ricksgers are below. I wrote Jason Helwig twice at the email address he posts on the county website. Sadly, I never received a response. I also tagged him in the Citizens Group to try to get his attention, but still have not heard back. This helps me decide who I will be voting for!
NOTE: I did not edit any of these responses for grammar, accuracy, etc. I cut and pasted exact words from the candidate responses.
1. Please tell us about yourself, i.e. your family, work experience, etc.
Brenda Ricksgers: I have been an Antrim County resident for 34 years, transplanted by marriage from Oceana Cointy. I have owned a Beaity Salon, driven a school bus (loved my kids), milked Cows and raised Rocky Mountain horses. I have also volunteered as a 4H leader helping to put on the Tate 4H Horse Show and State 4H Trail ride about 20 years each. I drive meals on wheels in winter for our Antrim County COA and alter server and Eucharist Minister at St Anthony church. We have 8 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.
2. Are you an official member of either the Democrat or Republican party? If you are not a member, what made you choose to run as a Democrat or Republican?
Brenda Ricksgers: I have been a member of the Antrim county Republican Party for a number of years.
3. Do you agree with cutting county taxes? If so, should the Commissioners have an overall long-term financial plan, or should they take every opportunity possible to help taxpayers pay less? Please explain.
Brenda Ricksgers: I don’t believe more taxes than needed should be levied. That said I also believe in being prepared for emergencies and keeping what we have in good repair. Let go only costs more for n the long run! One mill is very little per parcel but adds up to a lot when combined from all!
4. What ideas do you have to keep the Administrative Staff accountable? There have been examples of negligence that have cost the taxpayers, such as the housing department fiasco five years ago, and the bank building having no plan for maintenance. Please explain.
Brenda Ricksgers: by Administrative staff I’m guessing you mean Commissions. We look at the Administration Staff as Pete’s office. The Housing department was complicated and very hard to know the truth until later! The bank building was purchased for the property contiguous with county campus. It was meant to be temporarily used and tore down. Fortunately there was Insurance on it that paid to have it torn down when there was a water problem.
5. Have you experienced any issues or heard any citizen concerns with the county building department? If so, do you have any ideas to address those concerns?
Brenda Ricksgers: in the past I have heard of concerns, not lately. The Building Department has been working towards better communication.
6. Do you think the County Commissioners should spend time and vote on political resolutions that are not related to county business? Please explain.
Brenda Ricksgers: in many cases no but when it concerns our citizens yes.
7. Do you believe that the citizens should be able to vote on a building project? Should the project be funded with fund balance, a millage vote, or bonding our children’s future? Please explain.
Brenda Ricksgers: I like people voting for big projects! Some things could be funded through Fund Balance if the monies are there. With cuts there will be less money there to work with. Big projects would need voted milllage. We are in desperate need of a Command center for our officers and an evidence Room also the skin of the Administration Building needs attention.
8. Should the county build a new jail? If so, should it be big enough to take in prisoners from other counties? Please explain.
Brenda Ricksgers: our jail is not safe for our employees. We have great employees that are making due. Not sure how that can last. Working with neighboring counties could be one answer, unless that happens it only needs to be large enough our needs. With the changes in the law we do not have as many prisoners.
9. Do you support the Stepping Up Program to reduce jail population? Do you feel that the Sheriff should make this one of his priorities? Please explain.
Brenda Ricksgers: yes and yes. From what I see it looks like an answer to curb jail population.
10. The board also approved a work at home plan during the pandemic. Do you have creative ideas to offer more online services for the county residents? How do you think this would impact the need for new county buildings?
Brenda Ricksgers: I was thankful that many of our employees were able to work from home! During that time there were not many people coming into the building for services as usual. But some still had to. Our county departments are a service to our residents. Yes some of them can be handled in line with all the technologies but there still needs to be face to face conversations to make sure people get the services they need.
11. The county recently had a consultant report that the primary space needs in the county were for storage. Do you have any ideas to address that? Please consider building inexpensive storage units versus building all new expensive buildings just because we need storage.
Brenda Ricksgers: that may be possible. We can look into that.
12. Do you have anything else to say about why people should vote for you?
Brenda Ricksgers: I care about the welfare of our county and the people that live here! This is the last election I will be in win or loose! In 2024 it will be a 4 year commitment, that is too long for me! Neither Jason Helwig or I am campaigning. We are putting it to the voters to decide. We have both been there for a number of years. We each bring out previous life experiences to the table. I feel we have both done our best for Antrim County for commissioner and which of us is elected will continue to do so!
13. Do you support Randy Bishop’s lawsuit against the county? Are you connected with Randy in any way?
Brenda Ricksgers: I do not support Randy Bishop anyone in any way. He is grandstanding to cause trouble! I’m not sure how he found a lawyer to take this case! I don’t believe he has one!
To see the responses from candidates in all districts, see:
2022 Elections: Antrim County Commissioner Candidates Respond to Citizen Questions – Northwest Michigan Libertarians