2022 Antrim County Commissioner Race: VanAlstine vs Goldenberg District #3
There are two people running to become Antrim County Commissioner in District #3. The newly drawn District #3 includes Kearney, Forest Home and Helena Townships as well as a small part of Custer Township.
Republican incumbent Terry VanAlstine, chair of the Commissioners, will be challenged by Democrat Fred Goldenberg in the November 8th general election.
Below are the responses from VanAlstine and Goldenberg. 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.
Fred Goldenberg: I am 71 years old, married to Debbie Goldenberg, father of three, grandfather to nine. I’ve been a resident of Antrim County for over 20 years.
I am a Certified Senior Advisor with an insurance practice in Traverse City. I been in the insurance business since the 1970’s, specializing in retirement planning and health care with an emphasis on Medicare. I am not retired and don’t have any plans to do so in the near future.
In addition to my insurance agency, I am a long-time columnist for the Traverse City Record Eagle with my column appearing bi-weekly. My column, Senior Matters, focuses on a variety of topics that are of interest to a large and varied audience.
Although I was elected as a precinct delegate, which is a party affiliated position, I have never held a county wide office. But I have been involved in numerous civic, residential, political, and religious organizations in almost every capacity since the 1960’s. I’ve sat at the head of the table and ran the meetings to burning the midnight oil licking the envelopes to meet a deadline.
I am a firm believer in fiscal responsibility tempered with a heavy dose of social responsibility. We live in a place that others only dream of living. Yet there are those among us who need help. Not everyone is able to do it on their own and as a community it is our duty to lend a helping hand.
Terry VanAlstine: I graduated from Boyne City High School and went to Northwood Institute in Midland got a bachelor’s degree in business admin. with a minor in accounting and a associate degree in automotive replacement management. Opened a NAPA store is Bellaire in 1981 been here ever since. I have 2 children and 7 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?
Fred Goldenberg: I am a member of the Democratic Party.
Terry VanAlstine: I am a member of the Republican Party.
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.
Fred Goldenberg: Taxes are a necessity. The health of our County is dependent on the tax revenue collected. It is the responsibility of the County commissioners and the departments they oversee to spend those dollars in the most judicious manner. Fiscal planning for short term and long-term goals must be planned for with the ability to make changes should as the needs arise. Hopefully that will translate into lower taxes for us all.
Terry VanAlstine: I agree with being fiscally responsible work on keeping with in our means but also taking care of our buildings that have not been repaired in 20 years. I would hope that when we get thru the next year that we will be able to continue to keep the millage lower that is approved by the voters.
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.
Fred Goldenberg: Accountability starts at the top. For to long our county has been dealing with a political agenda that has caused the commission to spend far too much time on items that are not in the best interest of our citizens.
Terry VanAlstine: I was not on the board when the bank building was bought but I was when the maintenance dept. turned the heat off on a flat roof and the drain pipes for the roof froze and broke.
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?
Fred Goldenberg: Personally, I have had no dealings with the building department, but I have talked to a few business owners who have had to deal with permit issues and building delays but were overall satisfied with their interactions.
Terry VanAlstine: I have had people contact me about the building department and I have gave them the chain of command to fix their issues. First to contact Mark Haynes If no help there to Contact Pete Garwood and then bring it to the board of commissioners meeting to get it resolved.
6. Do you think the County Commissioners should spend time and vote on political resolutions that are not related to county business? Please explain.
Fred Goldenberg: No. See answer to question #4.
Terry VanAlstine: NO
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.
Fred Goldenberg: Debt is a four-letter word. But unfortunately, it is a necessary evil when dealing with a municipal government. How we structure that debt should be dependent on the project and what benefits our citizens currently and into the future. To make a blanket statement would be unfair to the current population and the future generations.
Terry VanAlstine: Yes I agree if we have to build a new building I would like to see it go to the vote of the people and find a way to pay for it with out adding more taxes or a bond to pay for it.
8. Should the county build a new jail? If so, should it be big enough to take in prisoners from other counties? Please explain.
Fred Goldenberg: Three years ago, we were told that we needed a new jail due to the lack of functionality. That certainly hasn’t changed if anything it has gotten worse. We are dealing with a facility built in 1955. The four options presented then would cost an average of twenty-five million dollars (more now) but which option is best for the county and Bellaire are important considerations. If housing prisoners from other counties would help defray operational costs then it might make sense to consider doing so.
Terry VanAlstine: No. Fix the old one and plan for replacement by putting money away until we can afford to build it if needed.
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.
Fred Goldenberg: According to MSU Department of Public Health more than 10 million individuals are arrested and enter the U.S. criminal justice system each year. More than half have mental health disorders and two-thirds have substance use disorders. Our county jail is our largest mental health care facility which makes no sense at all.
The Stepping Up Program is designed to identify those individuals who can be best served by providing mental health services within the community not though incarceration. Providing mental healthprograms to reduce jail population benefits the Sheriff’s department, the individual and the community.
Terry VanAlstine: YES I support the stepping up program and will work to get it in our jail.. The sheriff in elected and he has the say in that. Taxpayers need to let him know that that is what they want him to work on.
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?
Fred Goldenberg: The biggest issue facing many is connectivity. The lack of high-speed internet throughout the county is the main stumbling block for many of our citizens. Within the community I live in we have high speed internet yet less then a mile away they have to depend on very low speed or no speed at all.
You can have all the Work-at-Home plans you want but until there is equal access to high-speed internet for all there will continue to be a disparity, and some will not be able to comply.
Terry VanAlstine: Did not reply.
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.
I suspect that many of you reading this will off-handily eliminate me from contention simple because I am affiliated with the Democratic party. But that would be a mistake. For many of you this will be the first time in a very long time where you will have a choice in determining who will lead our county and community.
This is not a question of “D” versus “R”.
I am a firm believer in the free enterprise system. I want to see Antrim County grow and expand. I want to see more business opportunities and employment. But I also want to see all our citizens benefit from those endeavors.
The resent failure of the County Commissioners has been the inability to separate their political agenda from the realities of those they are supposed to serve.
It’s time for a change in attitude.
If you see fit to place your faith in me I will serve all citizens of the county equally and without partisan political baggage.
Terry VanAlstine: I think the storage needs will be able to be taken care of by digitizing all of the records kept in paper form which I am working on the admin to start looking for vendors that could do that.
12. Do you have anything else to say about why people should vote for you?
Terry VanAlstine: I think it is very important to attend the township and village meetings every month so I can make informed decisions for the taxpayers that I represent. Which is why I get to them every month.
13. Do you support Randy Bishop’s lawsuit against the county? Are you connected with Randy in any way?
Fred Goldenberg: Under NO circumstances do I support Randy Bishop nor am I affiliated with any organization which does. He and those who support him have made a mockery out of our election process and that is shameful.
Terry VanAlstine: I am not connected with him at all nor do i ever want to talk to him. It is a terrible thing that he is suing the county over a baseless claim. Costing the taxpayers of the county more money.
To see the responses from candidates in all districts, see:
2022 Elections: Antrim County Commissioner Candidates Respond to Citizen Questions – Northwest Michigan Libertarians