TEMPERANCE - Dennis Steinman has been a Bedford Township trustee for 28 years and was likely a shoe-in to win election to an eighth consecutive term if he had chosen to remain in office.
Instead, the Republican has his sights set on the office of township clerk because he wants to unseat Bob Schockman in the November general election.
"I have never wanted to run for clerk. I am happy being a trustee. But, Bob Schockman has got to go," Mr. Steinman said.
Before he can take on the incumbent, Mr. Steinman, 60, must get past Republican candidate George Welling in the primary on Aug. 5.
The winner of the primary will face Mr. Schockman, a Democrat who is running unopposed in the primary.
The campaign has been marked by charges and accusations of deficiencies that usually don't surface until the weeks before the November election.
Among the issues raised by Mr. Steinman was an investigation last year conducted by township attorneys into allegations that Mr. Schockman was inappropriately using a township computer for personal use and possessing a handgun at work.
Findings of the probe were detailed in a report the township board voted against making public. Mr. Steinman voted with the minority, 4-3, in December when the board was faced with a resolution to release the documents.
If Mr. Steinman ultimately wins election to the clerk seat, he said he would work to bring accountability and diligence to the oversight of township financial records, an issue that he said played a role in the dismissal of the township's finance director last year.
"These things need to be corrected. I have been in finance all my life. I will look at obvious problems and areas that need addressed," Mr. Steinman said.
"I want employees in the township working with other employees. I don't want to be adversarial. I will be there working with employees and I will be there to answer questions."
When asked to respond to the statements of his potential opponent, Mr. Schockman, 59, said he would not engage in negative campaign tactics.
"I have never committed a crime in my life. I spent 23 years as a parole and probation officer for the state of Michigan," he said. "To say I have done something wrong is inappropriate. This is purely political. I am not going to justify anything with a response."
Mr. Welling, 57, who is making his first attempt at elected office, said he was treating his opponent's views on Mr. Schockman's conduct as "hearsay."
"I just don't know," he said. "I am kind of leaving that between those two guys."
If elected, Mr. Steinman, who is vice president of Great Lakes Environmental, said he will step down from the family-owned business to devote full attention to the clerk's office.
Mr. Welling is co-owner with his wife of Triple L Productions, which provides telecasts of township meetings. He said his experience in business and supervising employees provides him with the qualities needed to perform the clerk's duties.
"I think Bob Schockman is doing a fine job. I think I could do a better job," he said. "I want to get information to residents in a timely manner. I want to make sure the board is accountable for what we do."
Mr. Welling said he would step down from his position in the company to work full time as clerk.