College instructor challenges police chief in Kalamazoo County board race

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KALAMAZOO, MI — A Democrat and college instructor faces a Republican who serves as area police chief and village superintendent, in a race for a seat on the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners.

Republican Jeff Heppler and Democrat Luke Howell are vying for the upcoming Nov. 8 election for a two-year term representing District 7 of the Kalamazoo County Commission.

MLive has partnered with the nonpartisan League of Women Voters to publish a voter guide for Michigan candidates. Each candidate was asked to state their positions on a variety of public policy issues listed below. Check out the full guide at Vote411.org.

Howell, 43, is a college instructor in HVAC, he said in his League of Women Voters survey response. Under education, it lists a bachelor’s degree. Howell said he was active in nonprofits, community activism and local political campaigns.

Heppler is the chief of police and superintendent of the village of Augusta and has owned a business for more than 40 years, according to his survey response. He holds an associate’s degree in business management from Kellogg Community College and a criminal justice degree from Kalamazoo Valley Community College, he said. Under Experience and Qualifications, Heppler said he has served as Kalamazoo County Commissioner for 17 years. He currently represents District 6.

Kalamazoo County commissioners’ districts were redrawn last year as part of the redistricting process.

Kalamazoo County District 7 includes Cooper Township Precincts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5; Wards 1, 2, 3 of Richland Township; Districts 1 and 2 of the Township of Ross, the Township of Charleston, the town of Galesburg and the villages of Augusta and Richland.

Below are the candidates’ responses to the Women’s League Voter’s Guide survey questions.

All answers in the voter’s guide were submitted directly by the candidate and have not been edited by the League of Women Voters, except for necessary trimming if an answer exceeded character limits. Spelling and grammar have not been corrected. Publication of candidates’ statements and opinions is in the public service interest only and should NOT be considered an endorsement. The League never supports or opposes candidates or political parties.

What will you specifically do as commissioner to improve the quality of life for residents of your district? How will your talents and skills enable you to succeed in these endeavors?

Luke Howell

Active listening. Sometimes it’s as simple as listening to your constituents and your community. I can bring my personal politics to this position, but I much prefer to bring your politics and interests to the committee. Our county can improve its vibrancy, economy, safety, comfort, and quality through effective leadership and attentive listening to the interests of the people of Kalamazoo County.

Jeff Heppler

I will work to keep taxes low. I will use my skills and knowledge acquired over my 47 years in law enforcement and firefighting to promote safety in our community. I ran 3 companies for over 40 years. I will use my knowledge to make Kalamazoo County fiscally responsible

What policies and programs will you promote to improve equity and citizen engagement in the well-being of our communities and the democratic process?

Luke Howell

I am a tradesman and a university graduate. I teach young men and women to prepare to enter the job market. I believe in the quality of organized work and want to continue to improve the integration, support and growth of our trades programs from high school through college to university and professional trades. If we are a core community of experts and hard workers, we can export our talents to statewide and national projects instead of looking to other communities for engineering and labor. work qualified to carry out our building and construction projects.

Jeff Heppler

I encourage all citizens to call their commissioner or email with any concerns they may have regarding county issues.

What are the two most important environmental concerns in the county? What should the county do to address each of them?

Luke Howell

The Morrow Dam and the Kalamazoo River cleanup and the threat of aggregate projects altering the landscapes of our communities.

Jeff Heppler

POFS pollution and contamination. He is currently being treated by the state and county with a cleanup and containment.

Are you satisfied with the county’s progress in providing affordable housing for residents? Why or why not? What more should be done?

Luke Howell

No. It is sad that some members of our community poorly own and maintain dozens of properties while hard-working, middle-class families struggle to own their first home. We need to put the focus back on home ownership and not owner/sleeper ownership.

Jeff Heppler

We have just started using funds that have been voted on by the public. They are used to create more affordable housing. Work with our Housing Manager to maximize dollars.

District 7 of Kalamazoo County.

Read all of Kalamazoo’s election coverage here.

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