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Sparta Township Election Info

Updated: Jun 17, 2020

Candidate List for the August 2020 Sparta Township Election

Sparta Township Supervisor

· Annalicia Barnum

· Dale Bergman

· Nicholas Curtis

· Christine Robinson

Township Clerk

· Elaine Koren

· Marcy Savage

Township Treasurer

· Amber Lewis

· Rachel Shangle

Township Trustee

· Jason Bradford

· William Goodfellow

· Thomas Guiles

· Barbara Johnson

· Michael Lamb

· Chad Momber

· Rob Steffens

Check out our Question / Answer with each candidate!

Annalicia Barnum, running for Sparta Township Supervisor

My name is Annalicia Barnum and I’m a candidate for Sparta Township supervisor in the primary election on Tuesday August 4th 2020. Hopefully I’ve had a chance to meet you in person as my family attends and participates in all of our local events regularly. You may recognize my name from the local community site, “Sparta Communications”, a site I created to bring our community together in positive ways. Sparta Communications makes it easy to find local information by allowing our community to come together and help each other by asking questions with quick responses. As your local admin, I’ve enjoyed getting to know so many of you through the years and look forward to seeing you all in person when this pandemic is over. I enjoy camping, sporting events, recipes, Disney World, and decorating, but most of all being a Mom. My husband Andrew and I were both born and raised in Sparta. We are small business owners who have placed our forever roots here on the Ridge. We found each other in High School when I was Andrew’s football team manager. Andrew would not stop talking to me on the sidelines often getting in trouble by having to do extra conditioning after practice. When Andrew proposed to me it was at a Sparta Homecoming football game in 2007, a place where we had our very first date. Here we are, 18 years later still attending those Friday night lights. Our son Elijah is an energetic nine-year-old who participates in many sports. He attends Sparta Area Schools and will be going into the 4th grade this upcoming school year. We are foster parents to Storm, a very independent and energetic two-year-old boy. Andrew, myself and Elijah are hoping to adopt Storm within the next year so he can permanently join our family and share our last name.

Q: How do you see Sparta Moving Forward?

A: I see Sparta moving forward by implementing positive growth through family values and traditions. Seeing a face others can recognize in the community will help build trust in our township office. I feel that our Treasurer Rachel Shangle, our Clerk Marcy Savage, and I would create a team that works towards a common goal together; creating a positive atmosphere can easily lead to a more successful office. I have many ideas that can help a community grow in positive ways and would love the chance to implement those. Being able to show children in our community how Sparta works by creating the love for a community at a young age. This would be a ripple effect on how those kids feel as they grow up in our Sparta community. Leading by example, I would read books and create activities about Sparta using our Township Library or directly in a classroom setting: modeling and teaching compassion that families can keep as they grow old here. I want to help local businesses grow by sharing ideas that might help them be more successful, keeping money right here in Sparta helping our economy directly. Sparta is a great place to do business. I want to keep that good reputation we have here. Something I’ve been wanting to see happen for years is to have the SRA project officially open. It would be a huge step for Sparta in being able to use this much needed park.

Q: What should be the top priority for Sparta Township to address?

A: A top priority for Sparta Township should be to build a stronger relationship between the Village, Chamber, and Township offices. If all offices were on the same page with each other just imagine what a stronger community we could build by creating common goals. We are all in this together to make Sparta a beautiful and successful place to live.

Agriculture is incredibly important to Sparta. I want to make sure we continue farm preservation by protecting the Ridge for generations to come. I would love to see the township create a tour with stopping destinations/guides to local farms who would be willing to participate. This could really boost our local economy and help our farmers and township families. During the tour you would drive to local farms that have produce, meats, maple syrup, homemade goods of any kind that would be unique to that particular farm. Maybe a neat landmark exists or you have your Grandma Hazel’s jam or crust recipe to share. Perhaps some wine or cider tasting, a cooking/canning or a lathe turning class you’d like to teach. I cannot even begin to explain how often I hear from Sparta residents that they were unaware that you could purchase apples directly from the farm they grew on. If you’re a member of Sparta Communications I’m sure you’ve read on multiple occasions how much the farmers market is missed. What if we could bring a farmer’s market type of tour right here in our community?

Q: Why do you want to serve the Sparta Township?

A: Sparta is a great place to raise a family, a beautiful place to settle down and call your own. It is a place where you can make dreams come true. It is a childhood dream of mine to help our community to the best of my abilities. I have always had visions of how I could help my community develop and become stronger. I have shared a small portion of those visions in the responses above. I recognize the values here and do not take that for granted. One of the reasons I created Sparta Communications was to help others in any way possible. When I first had the idea of creating a site for Sparta, I found it very difficult to find information needed in our local area. Having grown Sparta Communications from 1 member to 6,300 members and counting has been an easy and quick resource for our community to use. I will put those same efforts in an office setting while implementing the same positive go getter energy. A supervisor is someone community members should be able to talk to without judgement or fear, someone they can call and discuss concerns with as taxpayers without animosity. As supervisor, I want to make sure I am utilizing my knowledge by attending training courses and conferences that would be offered in our state to better serve my community. I would love to be able to highlight local businesses and community members who have gone above and beyond for our community while creating focal points for mentors in our area. This is just one girls dream of growing up in a place she calls her forever home. I’m asking for you to vote BARNUM for Sparta Township Supervisor on August 4th 2020.

Dale Bergman, running for Sparta Township Supervisor

Bio: Dale Bergman. I am the current Sparta Township Supervisor, and I have been the longest-serving Supervisor in Sparta Township history dating back to the 1800s. I’m a 1970 graduate of Sparta High School and a 1972 graduate of Michigan State University Agricultural Production. I’m a lifetime resident of Sparta Township. I have served on the Sparta Township Planning Commission, the Zoning Board of Appeals, a Trustee on the Sparta Township Board, the Sparta Fire Board, current Chairman. I’m a past member of the Grand Valley Metro Council, a member of the Sparta Rotary Club, and a member of the Kent County Farm Bureau. I have 41 years of township government experience.

I own a 70-acre farm in Sparta Township that has been farmed for well over 100 years. I am a firewood business owner as well as entertaining as “Freddie the Clown.” I have been married to my wife, Karen, for 43 years, having three children and seven grandchildren. I am a member of the Holy Family Church in Sparta.

Question 1: How do you see Sparta moving forward?

Here are the reasons Sparta Township will move forward If you re-elect Dale Bergman. I love the citizens of Sparta Township, and I am so appreciative of their kind support for all of these years. I will never let you down and always be accountable to you, the citizens of Sparta Township. The government should be by the people, for the people, and accountable to the people who vote them into office.

I will always work hard for you and keep your interests in mind while working on projects that impact Sparta Township. Those projects include: working on our four cemeteries, working with the Kent County Road Commission, budgeting your hard-earned tax payer dollars, giving my input on zoning issues (I served 24 years as Zoning Administrator), supporting our Sparta Fire Department, the Sparta Township Library, and the Sparta Township Historical Commission. I helped write a grant with Sue Blackall for $282,000 for the park, and I supported buying a platform aerial truck for the Fire Department. I will continue seeking grants to improve Sparta Township.

I always keep you in mind when I attend the meetings of the Planning commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, Construction Board of Appeals, Private Road Committee, Board of Review, Sparta Recreational Authority, and the Sparta Township Board.

Also, I will represent you at the Sparta Rotary Club, Downtown Development Authority, Sparta Fire Board Finance Committee, Kent County Supervisors’ Association, and Chamber of Commerce meetings. Thank you for your kind support over the years.

Question 2: What should be the top priority for Sparta Township to address?

I love farming. Agriculture is the main focus of Sparta Township. It will always be considered the use of utmost importance to the Township. Approximately 2/3 of the land in Sparta Township is considered to be prime farmland. Its lands are located in the local and world-famous area known as “The Ridge.” This area is comprised of rich clay loam soils and elevations that are extremely conducive to growing fruit, particularly apples. Sparta Township will always try to preserve this unreplaceable land.

I have farmed myself for 32 years growing fruit and vegetables, and the farm today is rented out for corn, wheat, and soybeans. My farm, however, wasn’t blessed with the prime elevations and soil types that appear on “The Ridge.” I had the unfortunate circumstance of losing crops to frost and drought, and I’ve learned a lot through these experiences.

My priority is preserving farmland in Sparta Township and helping our residential areas flourish. I will use smart growth concepts to protect our farmland. I have the experience to do this because I am a farmer and a businessman.

I continue to sell firewood as I always have done in the past, and being Township Supervisor, I have been so blessed. I love selling firewood, and it’s just like farming. Farming will always be the top priority in Sparta Township.

Question 3: Why do you want to serve Sparta Township?

I would love to be re-elected as Sparta Township Supervisor. I would like to see the Park to completion.

I had no dreams of becoming the Sparta Township Supervisor. It started when the Village wanted to condemn our farm for a land disposal sewer system, and we formed a group to defeat this proposal. I was then asked by Supervisor Merritt Nelson to serve on the Planning Commission, which I served on for 12 years. Later, Laverne Schut was retiring from the Township Board, and I was asked by then-Supervisor Bob Taylor to serve the remaining year of his term. I then went on to get elected to the Township Board for four years as a trustee. After that, Bob Taylor was retiring, and he asked me to run for the office of Township Supervisor.

There are so many things in life that have happened to me that I would have never dreamed of: forty-three years of marriage, three great kids, seven wonderful grandchildren, being Township Supervisor for six terms, entertaining people as Freddie the Clown, and playing my saxophone to crowds of 10,000 people are just a few. I would love to continue to be your Supervisor.

Nicholas Curtis, running for Sparta Township Supervisor

Hello, my name is Nicholas Curtis and I am a candidate running for the position of the Sparta Township Supervisor. I work as a program manager at a tool and die shop (UEI Inc) where I manage multi-million-dollar projects over the course of many months, making sure they stay on schedule and within budget. I have held this position for 7 years, as well as owning my own rental business for 6 years. These experiences have taught me how to work with employees, finances, and timetables effectively and efficiently as a member of a team. These skills, combined with new knowledge I will attain from attending the Michigan Township Association training sessions/conferences, will help me to succeed as Supervisor. I moved to Sparta Township in 2017 and the community has made me feel welcome and encouraged me to become more involved. Sparta is a community full of great people, businesses and hard-working families. Working together, I hope to make changes that further our growth, while retaining the integrity of the wonderful place that has become my home.

Q: How do you see Sparta Moving Forward?

A: I want to see Sparta thrive as a place of both commerce and enjoyment. Moving forward, I hope to encourage new businesses, shopping, and restaurants to join the already expanding downtown community. Sparta will continue to grow as a place where family and friends can come together to enjoy what our town has to offer. Also, I want to see Sparta grow as a community, with additional home construction to welcome new Spartans while working with and keeping the local heritage.

Q: What should be the top priority for Sparta Township to address?

A: My top priority would be towards efforts that help to improve the Township’s image, incentivizing the influx of businesses and potential residents.

Q: Why do you want to serve the Sparta Township?

A: As my home, I want see Sparta to grow. To support this personal goal, I want become Township supervisor, utilizing my knowledge and expertise, to help our community overcome any challenges it may face, and achieve our goals together.

Christine Robinson, running for Sparta Township Supervisor

As a wife, mother, grandmother, former council member, nurse aide, salesman, and patriot, I will bring a fresh perspective to leadership in Sparta Township. Personal Liberty is high on my priority list, as is the efficient use of your tax dollars. I come prepared to represent each citizen in a fair and respectful manner.

Q: How do you see Sparta Moving Forward?

A: Sparta is a beautiful community with a unique mix of agriculture, manufacturing, business, and residential areas with a close proximity to a large city, yet it maintains that “small town” feeling with a vibrant, historical downtown with plenty of “walking distance” businesses. As an airport committee member and supporter of the downtown, I see Sparta becoming more and more sophisticated as the airport grows and improves, the downtown freshens with a wider array of goods and services, and manufacturing grows and updates.

Q: What should be the top priority for Sparta Township to address?

A: Having been a farmer’s wife in the late 80’s, I know what it’s like to “live on a milk check.” My priorities for the township are to support our farmers, preserve our precious farmland, find innovative ways to satisfy developers, and to build relationships to mesh goals and values across the entire township.

Q: Why do you want to serve the Sparta Township?

A: My life has always been characterized by serving others, and that mentality has remained with me as I served on the village council and will continue as I move to serve the whole township. As supervisor, I will humbly listen to and learn from each constituent, board member, and other leaders, and I will guide decisions to the end that best represents the values and goals of Sparta Township.


Elaine Koren, running for Sparta Township Clerk

My name is Elaine Koren, (many people in Sparta call me Lainey) a resident of Sparta for 30+ years. My husband and I raised our two children, both of whom are Sparta graduates. I enjoy gardening and spending time with my family. I’m a member of Holy Family church in Sparta. Throughout the years, I have been a regular volunteer through Sparta schools, church, and different fundraising events in Sparta. One of my favorite pastimes is performing in local theatre, especially Sparta Community Theatre. I owned my own business (Koren Care) for 6 years and have managed two local businesses. I currently have two job titles: one as a medical assistant for cardiovascular medicine; and as a clinical lab instructor at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC). I have excelled in every job I’ve had and can handle the pressures of any role that I take. I hope to be a new and welcoming face to the Township office and cannot wait to serve the people of this community and to take it to the next level!

Q: How do you see Sparta Moving Forward?

A: If you are reading this, it is because you care about Sparta as much as I do. Sparta has always had a reputation of being a small, welcoming community and a great place to raise a family. We need to maintain this and not allow overreaching of government to destroy the family values of our community. We need to be fiscally conservative, while still advancing socially and fight for our residents. We can spend money wisely! My belief in less government intervention and letting residents decide on crucial issues that relate to the local community will be paramount to how I will base my decisions.

Q: What should be the top priority for Sparta Township to address?

A: The safety of our local community will be one of my highest priorities, along with preserving our farm friendly township. I fully support Sparta schools, Sparta Township Historical Commission, Sparta Fire and Sparta library. These are all necessary for the safety and well-being of all Sparta residents. Also, it is important for all entities in Sparta to have a great synergy, working civil with each other for the common good of all residents, not only in the Township board, but in other areas such as village, library, planning officials, developers, attorneys, inspectors and contractors. All are vital to our area.

Q: Why do you want to serve the Sparta Township?

A: I was approached by the Township Supervisor and other members of the community that are displeased with the current clerk. After reviewing the board meeting notes myself (that are available on the Sparta township website), I decided a change had to be made. Please review these meetings and votes taken, as they critically impact Sparta. I want to bring common sense, dignity and respect to the office. I look forward to working with the current Supervisor Dale Bergman, and candidate for treasurer, Amber Lewis. Sparta deserves the best advocates to lead and we can do this together! See you August 4th.

Marcy Savage, running for Sparta Township Clerk

My name is Marcy Savage and I am your current Township Clerk. I am a lifetime Sparta resident who graduated from Sparta High School. I have been married to Mike Savage for 30 years and in my free time I enjoy spending time, reading, cooking, being with my friends, family and my two daughters and their spouses. I started at Sparta Township as the Deputy Clerk in 2010 where I gained the knowledge and experience necessary to effectively administer the Clerk’s position. When the previous Clerk retired, I was appointed by the Board to finish the remainder of her term. In 2016 I was elected as Sparta Township Clerk. I am now running for my second elected term and will be on the ballot on August 4th. Election laws and processes have changed rapidly in the 10 years that I have been at the Township. I have attended many classes and meetings to keep up with the changes. I take elections very seriously and I am very honored to administer Sparta Townships elections with honesty and integrity.

Q: How do you see Sparta Moving Forward?

A: As a member of the Township Board and the Planning Commission Board I have had the responsibility of voting on many projects and ordinances brought before the boards. I do not take this responsibility lightly and I try to educate myself as I make these important decisions. I believe development in Sparta is greatly needed within the Township; however, it needs to be done in a responsible manner that preserves our unique farm land with careful development on lands less conducive to farming. It is important that development occurs in a manner that doesn’t damage our aquafers and yet maintains the aesthetics of a rural community.

Q: What should be the top priority for Sparta Township to address?

A: My priorities for Sparta Township are to continue administrating transparent elections in an everchanging election environment. With election laws rapidly changing, I am here to help the voters

understand the voting process and to ensure the secrecy of their ballot. With the increased involvement in absentee voting due to recent legislation, it is my goal to educate the voters to provide them with assurance and a greater comfort level knowing every vote will be counted. I will continue to go to great lengths to ensure that everyone who is legally able to vote, can vote with confidence.

Q: Why do you want to serve the Sparta Township?

A: Sparta Township is my home and such a great rural community to be involved in. With all Sparta’s unique topography attributes, the entertaining community events, and the warm-hearted residents, it is easy to be inspired by the growth of this blossoming community. I look forward to continuing to be a voice for Sparta Township and to continue to keep the Township’s best interest in mind as we move forward improving Sparta.


Amber Lewis, running for Sparta Township Treasurer

· Grand Valley State University-Studied Health Sciences with minors in Biology and Business

· NAR-Certified Military Relocation Professional

· Head Start for Kent County- Committee Parent Leader

· Head Start for Kent County-Understanding Readiness Outcomes Committee (UROC).

· Inner City Christian Foundation (ICCF)- Instructor for first time home buyers to advance applicants and qualify for down payment assistance.

· Home Repair Services of Kent County- Partnership to bring their services to Sparta

· GRAR- Community Outreach Committee

· Current memberships- GRAR, MAR, NAR, WCR, Sparta Eagles, Sparta Chamber of Commerce.

· Avid supporter of the “Best Prom Ever”

Q: How do you see Sparta Moving Forward?

A: Sparta is a dynamic, beautiful, & unique community. I see Sparta moving forward with civil, synergistic, government elected officials that support the infrastructure of our community, local organizations, and above all our residents.

To move forward with purpose, we must keep re-evaluating the past, the goals, and be exceedingly attentive to our residents’ concerns.

I see Sparta moving forward with innovation, maintaining the “Small Town USA” feeling, our rural farm culture, and consistently resolving issues so we can take this beautiful community to the next level.

Residents must feel inspired and free to bring their concerns to local accessible government officials. Sparta government representatives must continuously educate themselves, network with other local municipalities to brainstorm ideas, collaborate within the community, and confidently pursue new ways to efficiently improve Sparta.

I have the confidence, experience, and ability to move Sparta forward in these trying times.

Q: What should be the top priority for Sparta Township to address?

A: Residents, current Township Board members, and Sparta organization leaders have reached out to me in the past few weeks to discuss their concerns. I was honored and humbled by their confidence in my ability to address priorities, fully execute plans, and rally individuals together for our community. Below is a list of items the Sparta Community would like the Township to address:

Keeping a balanced budget & being fiscally conservative. This is more important than ever in these economic trying times.

Supporting our First Responders and Firefighters

Preservation of our Prime Farmland, the Ridge, and Agriculture.

Township office accountability & accessibility. For example, most MI townships have set office hours for officials. The Sparta Township Office does not. Something so simple should be rectified to better serve Sparta residents.

Implementing & sustaining safety policies within the township office during the pandemic.

Effective, civil, common sense communication within the Township Office and with other Sparta organizations.

Logical & cost-efficient utilization of legal resources & the Township Zoning Administrator.

As a successful independent entrepreneur, I know the key to success in anything is hard work, knowledge, and communication. Identifying top priorities for our community is just the first step. It starts the conversation. The art of collaboration, implementation, execution, and closing is how the truly successful people in our country lead their communities & businesses.

Q: Why do you want to serve the Sparta Township?

A: Great question. What compels anyone to serve their community?

I have a solid history of serving on committees, boards, bringing people together, planning, and being a respected business woman.

Dale Bergman, the current & well-loved Township Supervisor, approached me about the position. Before saying yes, I extensively researched the job requirements. I concluded that Sparta will benefit from my creativity, expertise in collaboration, education, business knowledge, and fearlessness. In addition, I thrive in situations that require working with others, negotiations, and problem solving.

I approach every issue with positivity and an open mind. When I leave the negotiation table, I know I’ve earned respect & done my best to logically debate for those I represent.

If you want action and best outcomes then vote for Amber Lewis.

If you want an accessible, transparent, accountable Township Treasurer, Vote for Amber Lewis.

I don’t fight people. I fight FOR PEOPLE.

I love Sparta. Let’s work together to make it even better!

Rachel Shangle, running for Sparta Township Treasurer

I am Rachel Shangle, the current Sparta Township Treasurer. I have lived most of my life in the Village of Sparta. I was an SHS valedictorian, graduated from Western Michigan University, married Bob Shangle (also known as LiveStatue) and purchased a home (and pay property taxes) here, raising our three sons, who are all SHS graduates and now my grandson attends Sparta schools. We are members of Sparta United Methodist Church. My parents, Gary and Gail Brophy, were Sparta teachers. I was first elected in 2008. I was the deputy treasurer before that, taking a lot of classes and training to understand the complex ever-changing Michigan tax law. I regularly attend meetings and seminars of Kent County Treasurers Association and Michigan Townships Association and Sparta Chamber of Commerce. I have served on the Sparta Township Planning Commission, Fire Board and am currently a member of the Sparta Recreational Authority.

Q: How do you see Sparta Moving Forward?

A: There are so many good things about Sparta now! I would like to see smart development, preferably near the Village where water and sewer are available. I believe in preserving the farms on the ridge, with its unique soils and climate, as much as possible. There are ways to help farmers prosper and lessen the pressure of development.

I think the Township needs to do more to provide amenities for its residents; many current things are provided and maintained by the Village only. Currently, I am the only Village resident on the Township Board. Village residents need a voice on the Board.

We need to make better use of available technology in the Township office, for communicating and providing information. This is something I have been pushing for, but have faced resistance. Good communication and cooperation with the Village, Chamber of Commerce, Schools and Kent County are important moving forward, so that Sparta is well-represented in a respectful and professional manner. I am endorsing Annalicia Barnum for Township Supervisor. Her enthusiasm and fresh ideas are inspiring. I believe she will represent Sparta well and lead us to the future with energy and compassion for all residents.

Q: What should be the top priority for Sparta Township to address?

A: A priority for the Township should be to support the new park which will hopefully be opening soon. The park will provide so many opportunities for everyone. We also need to improve interaction and communication with all residents, so we have more input and ideas for decision-making. There are many people in Sparta with skills and creativeness who don’t have time or interest in serving on the Board, but would offer help in a certain area if they knew what was being considered. I would love to have more residents attending the Board meetings, 7:30 pm on the second Thursday of each month.

Q: Why do you want to serve the Sparta Township?

A: Although I have been offered full-time work at other places, I enjoy serving my community in Sparta. The part-time hours, which the clerk and I coordinate with our deputies to keep the office open and staffed 8:00 am to 5:00/6:00 pm, give me flexibility to volunteer in the schools and at church. Clerk Marcy Savage is wonderful to work with. She oversees purchasing, payables, documents, minutes and the huge responsibility of elections with dedication and a get-it-done-right attitude.

Being a local tax collector is not an easy job, with no retirement or health insurance benefits and some angry taxpayers to deal with, but I feel blessed that it has worked for me. Michigan property taxes are complicated, with many millages, exemptions, and deadlines. I am proud of always balancing the millions of dollars to the penny, and I have gotten great reviews from our auditors during our annual audits, and from the Kent County Treasurer. In my years on the Board, we have always had a balanced budget, and we have not increased the Township operating millage or borrowed. Sparta Township has no debt. I often am asked for advice from treasurers in surrounding townships.

Though I keep my hair its natural silver color, I am not at retirement age yet! I would like to continue to use my skills and experience to help the Board make decisions and to keep the Sparta tax collection process working smoothly.


Jason Bradford, running for Sparta Township Trustee

My name is Jason Bradford I am a candidate running for re-election as Sparta township trustee. I am a lifelong resident of Sparta, as my family has been since Sparta was founded. My wife and I operate a dairy farm on the north side of Sparta where we raise our four children.

Q: How do you see Sparta Moving Forward?

A: I would like to see Sparta continue to follow its strengths. We have a coveted school system with teachers and staff that truly care for our kids. We continue to have a strong agriculture economy with innovative people moving businesses forward. Sparta continually engages the community with family friendly events and activities that draw people downtown. We also have a highly respected police and fire rescue that make our community feel safe.

Q: What should be the top priority for Sparta Township to address?

A: I want to see Sparta continue to support and attract business to the downtown area. I am fully supportive of residential and housing growth that will attract/retain diverse people and families that will strengthen our community. I believe we need to improve our availability of housing for families looking to move beyond their starter home. This does not have to conflict with our unique farmland, which is best protected when we support our agricultural businesses' needs.

Q: Why do you want to serve the Sparta Township?

A: As a trustee I focus on making decisions that benefit the community as a whole. I base my decision on facts and the greater good of the Sparta community, leaving aside personal feelings and politics. I ask for your vote to continue to serve as Sparta township trustee.

William (Bill) Goodfellow, running for Sparta Township Trustee

I was born and raised in Sparta and graduated from Sparta High School. My wife, Mary Jo, and I have been married for 45 years and have two sons and four grandchildren. We reside on the farm that has been in the Goodfellow family for over 150 years. We are long time members of St. Joseph Catholic Church having served on numerous church, school and festival committees.

I worked for AT&T for 30+ years retiring in 2001 as a regional director of Process Management encompassing 13 states. I then went on to serve as the Vice President of Network and Operations for a telecommunications company managing their high-speed fiber optic networks located throughout the Midwest. I presently manage my own telecom consulting firm assisting companies in purchasing and building fiber networks.

I have been a member of the Sparta Township Board and served as a trustee for approximately 16 years. During that time, I was also appointed to serve as a Township Board representative to the Sparta Fire Board and have done so for 14 years. I have worked closely with the past and present Fire Chiefs striving to provide the best fire protection available for both the village and township.

Q: How do you see Sparta Moving Forward?

A: I enjoy Sparta’s small town feeling and rural atmosphere.

It is of utmost importance to retain and support our small businesses as well as encourage new storefronts to join our downtown. Our soon to open Sparta Recreation Authority Park will be a wonderful addition to our community and sure to be an attraction that many people in the area will want to visit.

Sustaining and maintaining our agricultural base is equally important. Being a generational farmer, agriculture is still one of the greatest resources the township has to offer, and we need to promote the “Ridge” as a premier apple growing region.

With a vibrant downtown area and beautiful rural setting, Sparta has the potential to attract those who not only will want to visit our town but, decide to join our community.

Q: What should be the top priority for Sparta Township to address?

A: I see the need for affordable housing as well as preserving the farmland in our area.

There has been a tremendous amount of interest in individual housing as well as housing developments within the AG1-Ag2 areas throughout the township. I am in favor of landowners exercising their right to do what they want with their land within reason. We have zoning regulations and a Master Plan in place to promote our township’s best interests. We can achieve expansion observing our rules and using good common sense.

Regarding farmland, I am in favor of saving as much prime farmland as possible for productive and active farming. If that means buying development rights for some properties to save the farmland then I support, it.

Q: Why do you want to serve the Sparta Township?

A: I would like to continue to serve Sparta Township with the experience and knowledge I have gained over the last 16 years of my service to this community.

As a Township Board Trustee, I have had the opportunity to serve with other officials in various elected roles. There are several people running for the various township positions this year. If elected, I would like to provide some continuity to the Township Board by helping to transition any new board members in understanding the township responsibilities to provide the best leadership possible.

As an appointed Fire Board representative, I was involved in the process of hiring a new Chief to the department. I was also involved in making decisions in purchasing equipment and vehicles necessary to keep our fire department up to date in a capacity to effectively serve the needs of our village and township when called upon. I would like to continue to support Sparta Township in this role as well.

Thomas J Guiles, running for Sparta Township Trustee

My wife and I have lived in Sparta since we bought and built on my second great grandfather’s farm in 2016. On our farm we’ve continued the family tradition of producing maple syrup. I own a small excavating company which I also recently relocated to Sparta. I love the community and am looking forward to getting more involved.

Q: How do you see Sparta Moving Forward?

A: What I like most about Sparta is that it is a farm community that also offers modern amenities. I look forward to the opportunity to help preserve the farm town feel and local traditions while also helping to continue to grow our community and be able to bring new and exciting things to its members.

Q: What should be the top priority for Sparta Township to address?

A: At this point my top priority would be re-engaging the community and businesses with one another in a safe and effective manner, particularly in a time of health changes and multiple unknowns. Our small businesses are one of the things that make us so special and unique and I think it is particularly important to do what we can to help our businesses and community thrive.

Q: Why do you want to serve the Sparta Township?

A: I want to serve Sparta Township because it is my home. I believe in giving back to the community and know that by investing my time and effort into helping make Sparta the best that it can be, that I will be proud to continue to call it my home for the rest of my life.

Barb Johnson, running for Sparta Township Trustee

My name is Barb Johnson and I have filed my petition to run for Sparta Township Trustee. I have lived in Sparta Township for the majority of my life. My parents, Gerard & Mary Lou Ritzenhein moved to Sparta back in the 50s because they wanted to raise their family in a rural setting. I am so very thankful they chose Sparta as our home. I graduated from Sparta in 75'. I love the hometown closeness and friendliness that Sparta offers. My husband Randy and I wouldn't live anywhere else. I want to see Sparta grow and prosper but also want it to keep its country charm. I believe there are ways to achieve both.

Please consider voting for me for township trustee on August 4, 2020

Q: How do you see Sparta Moving Forward?

A: Sparta has so much to offer. We can draw people from all over the state by promoting local businesses, the splash park and our wonderful festivals on a bigger level. We truly are

"Pure Country Charm"

Q: What should be the top priority for Sparta Township to address?

A: Promoting growth while maintaining our country setting.

Q: Why do you want to serve the Sparta Township?

A: I want to see Sparta grow and prosper, while keeping its country charm. I believe we can achieve both.

Michael Lamb, running for Sparta Township Trustee

Michael Lamb (55) – I have been a lifelong Sparta Resident and a Sparta High School graduate. I hold a Business Administration degree and have been a Realtor for 30 years including managing a successful Brokerage Firm in Sparta. I am a member of the Greater Regional Association of Realtors serving on many committees including the Board of Directors and I have received National recognition as a Realtor. I have also been the Co-Chair of the Kent County Silent Observer Charity Golf Event for 24 years. And I am currently serving on the Village of Sparta Downtown Development Authority.

Q: How do you see Sparta Moving Forward?

A: I see Sparta continuing to develop as a vibrant Community with business expansion and smart growth while maintaining and protecting its agricultural heritage.

Q: What should be the top priority for Sparta Township to address?

A: The top priority for Sparta Township should be making sure the Township uses its assets efficiently and collaboratively with local, County and State agencies to ensure Sparta Township receives the greatest support possible. This support will allow Sparta Township and its citizens to receive maximized benefits for the dollars spent.

Q: Why do you want to serve the Sparta Township?

A: I believe with my background that I will be able to help guide the community with smart and calculated growth as well as preserve Sparta’s agricultural heritage. The Sparta Community has been supportive and a very integral part of my success so I would like to reciprocate and give back by serving as a Township Trustee.

Chad Momber, running for Sparta Township Trustee

I am 48 years old and a lifelong resident of Sparta, owner of Sparta Towing, and Momber Sales. My 3 children all are going or have gone to Sparta Schools, I have served as a Township board member for the past 4 years, am a past Sparta Chamber treasurer, and past Sparta Town and Country Fair director. I have a passion for building successful businesses and for keeping things looking neat and clean as you can tell from my business locations and my home. I believe that nothing helps your neighbor’s home/business value more than keeping your property well-manicured. I enjoy spending time snowmobiling, boating, and time at Silverlake Sand Dunes with my family and friends.

Q: How do you see Sparta Moving Forward?

A: Sparta is starting to move in the right direction. I think we need some new homes, and over the past 4 years we have approved some new home developments. This helps with our tax base as with the new schools we need children to fill those seats. I would like to see a blend of higher end homes to help provide a range of homes for our great community. We have many starter homes and would like to see a larger selection of larger, forever type homes in our community.

Q: What should be the top priority for Sparta Township to address?

A: It’s hard to limit it to just one but we have a few projects started that really need to be finished. Our Township has purchased the property known as Sparta Sports Complex and this project has been received very well as minimal public tax dollars have been used for this project thus far. Many from the public and private sector have donated to the cost of construction of the project, limiting the amount of public tax dollars needed to finish the project. Moving forward I hope the annual operation of the park will be able to be self-sustaining, and with the right leadership, we can work together to make this happen.

Q: Why do you want to serve the Sparta Township?

A: As a lifelong resident of Sparta, I have enjoyed learning the municipal role and interworking of the Township government while serving on the board the last 4 years. As a board we have grown and I personally have learned a lot. I believe I am an asset to the Township government by bringing my background in business to the table. I am proud of the fact we as a Township operate on less than one mill. I do think we offer many great services at a great value to the tax payer. The taxes collected to run the Township are very competitive versus other communities and should remain so.

Rob Steffens, running for Sparta Township Trustee

I am Rob Steffens, 57, and a fourth-generation apple grower (Steffens Orchards LLC). I farm in Sparta and Alpine Townships and I currently serve as a Sparta Twp. Trustee. In the past I have also served on the Planning Commission and Fire Board and presently on the Construction Committee for the Sparta Recreational Sports Park.

Q: How do you see Sparta Moving Forward?

A: Sparta is a growing community. With the increased investments in schools, parks and the downtown, these amenities are going to be important to current and future families. Sparta Twp. will need to work closely with Sparta Village to address future needs and issues.

Q: What should be the top priority for Sparta Township to address?

A: In the short term, because of the Covid-19 virus, reduced state shared revenues could seriously affect the Twp. budget. In the long term, I feel agriculture is one of our best assets. The quality of life, the strong and positive tax base that it provides, as well as jobs, is essential to maintain a balance of growth and agriculture as we move forward.

Q: Why do you want to serve the Sparta Township?

A: I feel strongly that agriculture must be represented on the Township Board. As a former Little League coach, I would like to see the Sparta Sports Park completed this fall for all to enjoy. I bring a common sense approach to issues and work well with others.


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