Cederholm, Eckhout vie for Arcadia treasurer seat in recall election

ARCADIA TWP. — The Nov. 6 ballot features two candidates running for treasurer of Arcadia Township in a recall election.

Incumbent Debbra Eckhout, Republican, is in the midst of a four-year term that expires on Nov. 20, 2020.

According to Arcadia Township resident Laurie Mason who sponsored the recall petition, the driving force behind the recall followed a vote at the Arcadia Township board meeting on Dec. 14, 2017 when Eckhout voted against the Marina Deficit Elimination Plan.

Melanie Cederholm, no party affiliation, and Eckhout answered a series of questions for the Manistee News Advocate, with responses under 250 words. Responses are published as is.

The News Advocate sent questionnaires to all candidates in contested races.

MNA: Please introduce yourself and describe your background, professionally, politically or personally.

CEDERHOLM: My name is Melanie (Eckels) Cederholm and I’m an Arcadia native who has been a full time resident of Arcadia for 27 years.

CEDARHOLM

CEDERHOLM

My husband and I have been serving our community as active members of Arcadia’s Fire Department for 25 years. I am a Firefighter/EMT who serves as fire department secretary responsible for all secretarial duties, including grant writing, supplies purchasing and State and Federally mandated records and reports.

I have 30 years of business experience in bookkeeping, accounting and office work. In addition to my fire department duties, I have been the manager of a three-division corporation in Beulah for 24 years.

I’m responsible for the management, payroll, inventory control and replenishment and all accounting functions of the multi-phase business. I am currently serving as the Township’s deputy clerk, and the Manistee County Firefighter Association treasurer.

I am also a former secretary/treasurer of Frankfort City Fire Department and former treasurer of the Benzie County Fire/EMS Association.

ECKHOUT: Debbra Eckhout, married to Mike for 20 years.  Four children and four grandchildren.  Grew up in Northern Michigan. Graduated from Lansing Community College with honors with a degree in Court Reporting and Business Law.

Worked with several nonprofit organizations in management and fund raising, worked for one of the big eight accounting firms, Grand Rapids court reporting firm, volunteer or have volunteered for several community organizations and service clubs and belong to a local church.

MNA: Why are you running for Arcadia Township treasurer? What qualities would you bring to this seat?

CEDERHOLM: I am running for the position of Township of Arcadia Treasurer because I believe that making this change is the only way our township will heal from the political turmoil of the last several years.

In a short span of time, our Township has had its first ever Recall election (May 2018), its first ever lawsuit against the Board (by the Treasurer), and its first criminal investigation in its entire history.

I believe Arcadia needs a cohesive Board that works together and that works as a functioning unit for the greater good of the community we serve. Without that important factor, history shows not much gets accomplished.

My business experience over the last thirty years will be a benefit to the position.

ECKHOUT: Currently the treasurer for the Township of Arcadia and sincerely hope to remain in that position for the remainder of this term.

ECKHOUT

ECKHOUT

Have three years of experience and training as treasurer collecting property taxes, understand the process and have successfully assisted taxpayers with their questions and concerns in obtaining homestead credits and getting property tax lowered.

Have diligently sought education and training that is vital to understanding the tax collection process and responsibilities of a Township Treasurer.  Am a member the The Michigan Municipal Treasurer’s Association and the Michigan Townships Association; both offering excellent training seminars and retreats for treasurers and Township Officials.

MNA: Explain how you plan to address specific issues and/or improve Arcadia if elected.

CEDERHOLM: Personally, my first order of business will be to attend two upcoming MTA workshops about Township Finances and Treasurer Tax Collection. I also have a network of friends and acquaintances serving in similar positions who are willing to provide me guidance while I become acclimated to the position.

Since I am already proficient in the current accounting software used by the Township, it will be a matter of working with the Clerk to share information, update records and reports and create a cohesive environment where everyone can work together toward common goals.

Many of the township’s controversial problems stem from the Marina accounting. I have suggested changes to deposit procedures and record keeping for the Marina account several times, and I intend to seek Board approval for them should I be elected in November.

We need to get our Township finances in order first, then be able to address the subject of a neglected township building that has fallen into disrepair while the Treasurer and other board members have been battling it out amid law enforcement, lawyers and court.

It is currently my job to take notes for the minutes at our monthly board meetings, and I have listened carefully to public comments.  I hope to address some of the issues that have come up multiple times.

I will strive to be a positive change and a helping hand. It’s time to get on with Township business.

ECKHOUT: The specific issues that I will continue to address are: fiduciary responsibility and the ethical budgetary planning and expenditure of tax payer dollars, to hold the Township Board accountable for its actions and decisions to the public we serve, to be open and transparent in my capacity as a Township Official, and to keep the residents of Arcadia informed regarding Township business and future plans.

The Township Treasury belongs to its citizens and however it is spent, I believe it is absolutely vital that there be a benefit to the taxpayers as a whole, not to just a few.

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