The Rapidian

Local Elections 2012: 19th District County Commission candidates respond to Rapidian questions

Shana Shroll, Lance Penny and Deanna Kloostra answered some tough questions to help our local citizens understand who to vote for in upcoming elections Tuesday November 6.
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Our politics beat asked the 19th District County Commission candidates [Lance Penny, Shana Shroll and Deanna Kloostra] some questions for our Rapidian readers. We hope they help you to get informed about where they stand on issues that affect us locally. See below the questions and their answers. 


What are your views about Proposition I, which would adjust the way the city Comptroller position is determined?

Lance Penny: "I oppose Proposition i. While I am not an expert on this particular issue, many groups which I trust are opposed to it, and I base my decision on this initiative on their opposition."

Shana Shroll: "I support Prop 1. It will not only eliminate inefficiencies, save money and create a modern day financial management structure, but it will also change the selection process to ensure that the Comptroller will have the necessary credentials, such as being certified by the accounting industry and having years of experience in finance."

Deanna Kloostra: "The Comptroller is someone who pays the bills basically and Deanna is not sure why the position is an elected one."


What are your views about Proposition II, that proposes decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana?

Penny: "I strongly support Proposition ii, to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. We are jailing far too many of our young people for this minor offense. It is costly, and counter-productive. While I don't support full legalization, I do think we need a vastly different approach to simple possession cases, and we need to allocate legal and law enforcement resources to more serious crimes. We need a different way to intervene in the lives of young people who are caught with marijuana, so that they learn from their mistake, rather than imposing an overly harsh punishment that can damage their lives for many, many years."

Shroll: "I do not support Prop 2. It is very broad, in that it does not include age restrictions or limits on the amount of marijuana that can be possessed without criminal penalty. I am also not convinced that its passage will free up police to focus on more serious criminal activity, since most marijuana violations in Grand Rapids are discovered while cops are responding to other crimes. As a mother of two young boys, it also concerns me that its passage will encourage a more lenient approach to drugs in our community, and sends a negative message to our city's young people."

Kloostra: "Deanna is all for marijuana being legalized and taxed, especially when doctors are making money by giving anyone the ability to use. Deanna personally know people who have gone to doctors to obtain the ability to do marijuana legally and they have no mental or physical health issues. Deanna has never used marijuana, but feels if it helps people who are ill, then it is a good thing. There is also a big issue with the fact that we can legalize marijuana in the states, but the Federal law says something different and people are being jailed because of the Federal law."


What is your opinion about John Ball Zoo's new entity development?

Penny: "I support the concept of changing the operation of John Ball Zoo to a single entity management model. However, I admire the work of the Zoo Society, and would like them to be treated as full partners in the development of this single entity to manage the zoo."

Shroll: "I support the creation of a new nonprofit entity to manage the John Ball Zoo. The current bifurcated system of managing the Zoo - the Zoo Society and the County working jointly to manage the Zoo and its employees - is not the most efficient way to manage a zoo. We can all agree that the John Ball Zoo is a great community resource for our families. A new nonprofit entity - created with the input of the dedicated Zoo Society members and donors - is the best way to steer the Zoo into the future and ensure that it remains one of our most prized resources."

Kloostra: "Deanna is not clear on the changes the county wants to make, but has not been impressed with the zoo for years."

How do you view efforts towards farmland preservation in Kent County?

Penny: "I am a very strong supporter of the Purchase of Development Rights program. Local agriculture is a big part of what makes Kent County a special place to live, and I want my daughters to grow up enjoying easy access to local farms, just like I did. We also need to maintain the agriculture sector of our local economy. We are the fifth biggest agriculture county in the state, by production, and I want to keep this part of our economy going strong. I am proud to have the support of Dennis Heffron, owner of Heffron Farms, and founding member of Citizens to Protect Kent County Farmland and Open Space, as well as the endorsement of this organization."

Shroll: "Agriculture is one of the biggest industries in Kent County, and I support our farms and our farmers. There is a greater demand today than ever before for our locally grown produce, and my family and I support local farmers as much as possible each week when we fill up our grocery carts. That being said, I do not believe that county funds should be spent to support the purchase of development rights program. I believe that public funding is better used for maintaining parks and green space that is open to residents to enjoy."

Kloostra: "Deanna likes to get first hand information from people on issues. She has not spoken with any farmers on their thought about the subject. Deanna grew up on a farm and gets an uneasy feeling about the information she has been gathering on the subject. Deanna's concerns are very high regarding the Land Ban Authority. Our County sure is interested in the land!"

What motivates you to run for the office of county commissioner?

Penny: "My primary motivation to run is that our current County Commission is wildly out of balance, from a partisan perspective. When the GOP controls 15 out of 19 seats (79%), in a county that splits down the middle on top of the ticket races (like President), something is wrong. The GOP have tried to draw district lines in such a way that Democrats have opportunities to win very few seats. This is one we can win, and I'm campaigning hard to do just that. I want all voices to be heard in county government, not just the special interests."

Shroll: "As the mother of two young boys, I am concerned about the future of our community. We need leaders on all levels of local government who will make sound fiscal decisions so that our kids will have a bright future that includes a safe place to live and work and raise their own families."

Kloostra: "After going to my County Commissioners, House of Representatives, Senators, and Congress men and women about the family court and nothing being done, Deanna decided to do something, run for office. The County Commissioners over see the money and Deanna want to see just where the money is going. Last week at a town hall meeting with Peter Hoekstra, Deanna asked Pete what he was doing to make changes in the family courts and protect children in the Child Protection System, his response was shocking! Deanna has been to congress twice this year talking with the men and women in congress on the family court issues. Deanna will be a guest speaker at the 10TH Battered Mother's Custody Conference in May of 2013 in Washington DC and she will be stopping in to talk with the representatives for Michigan."


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