Voters say yes to safety and schools, select GOP winners


By Cathy Kimmel-Srock
Review Staff Writer
The Aug. 2 election brought a trio of yes votes from Orion voters, with both public safety millages and the Building and Site Sinking Fund for Lake Orion Community Schools all passing, according to unofficial election results from the Oakland County Clerk’s Office. As of press time, official results had not yet been published.
Of the three local proposals, the closest in terms of votes was the LOCS Building and Site Sinking Fund, which passed with a 57.49 percent majority.
Both public safety millages passed, with the fire millage gaining a 67.37 majority and the police millage a 64.32 percent majority in their respective votes.
“The Orion Township Fire Department, along with both the Oakland County Sheriff Department and the Lake Orion Police Department want to thank the citizens for their support and confidence in each of these departments,” said Orion Township Fire Chief Robert Smith.
According to Smith, there was some confusion in the ballot language, so many did not realize that it was actually a renewal of what the department is already operating at. With the current public safety millages, the fire and police millages are collecting from two different funds for each department, meaning that it shows up on winter tax bills as two for the police and two for the fire department. Since all four were expiring at the end of the year, it was decided to simplify and combine the two police funds and the two fire funds into one for each department, rather than just renew the current millages. This resulted in them not being marked as renewals, although for tax payers they will seem that way as the newly approved millages collect the same amount as the previous millages did.
“They still took a leap of faith and trusted what their public safety departments were asking for and (did) the right thing,” Smith said. “We will be able to continue to give quality service and be able to serve the citizens of Orion in a proficient and professional way.”
The Oakland County Zoological Authority Renewal Millage also passed, garnering 74.43 percent of the county’s votes in support.
Other significant races to mention were those that determined who would represent the Republican Party during the November general election for Orion Township Clerk and Treasurer, as well as which four Republicans would represent the party in the trustee race.
Incumbent Penny Shults defeated Jenn Zielinski, 52.13 percent to 47.69 percent, the difference of 263 votes, to retain the clerk position on the Republican ticket. She will be running unopposed in the November election.
“It was a very rigorous campaign for all the candidates and I was grateful that the results were in my favor,” said Shults of the outcome.
“Thank you everyone for your kind support during the election process,” she added. “I’m humbled by the opportunity to continue to serve as your Orion Township Clerk.”
As clerk, Shults is looking forward to working on many things in the future, including the implementation of new voting machines in 2017, which the state of Michigan will begin replacing in May, 2017, upgrading record retention storage areas at township hall that will allow documents to be retained indefinitely and more easily accessible, and getting more of the township boards and commissions online with electronic board packets.
Donni Steele garnered a majority of the votes over incumbent Mark Thurber, 52.53 percent to 47.33 percent, the difference of 296 votes, for the treasurer position on the Republican ticket. She, too, will be running unopposed in the general election.
“When I watched the results come in, I was truly relieved,” said Steele. “Working so hard towards the goal of being elected and then actually winning the election was a gift of faith and perseverance.”
“I would again like to thank all those who helped me and all those who voted for me, I will do a good job,” she added.
Steele said that while she is not elected until November, it is her goal to learn as much as she can before then so she “can hit the ground running.” In her role as treasurer, according to Steele, she is most interested in streamlining the township’s services and “working more cohesively with other departments which will ultimately service our citizens better.”
Seven individuals were vying for the four trustee seats. The lone Democrat in that race was Courtney Shafer, who will advance to represent her party on the ballot in November. Six Republicans were competing for the four spots to represent their party in the November election: incumbents Michael Flood, Jr., Neal Porter and John Steimel, and newcomers Brian Birney, Tony Cook and Ron Sliwinksi. The top four Republican finishers who will advance are Sliwinski (21.11 percent); Flood (17.81 percent); Steimel (17.03 percent); and Birney (16.84 percent). Voters will select their top four among the parties to fill the trustee seats in November.
The supervisor race was uncontested in the Republican primary.
Voter turnout was approximately 33 percent in Orion Township’s 15 precincts, and the clerk’s office is already preparing for the November 8 Presidential Election.
“I’m expecting a high voter turnout for this election and I’m preparing accordingly,” Shults said. “Everyone who is eligible should register to vote to ensure your voice is heard on all levels.”

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