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Published: Tuesday, 10/12/2010

Whiteford Twp. supervisor foes campaign on themes of service


OTTAWA LAKE - Nearly 15 months ago, longtime elected clerk Bernice Heidelberg was appointed Whiteford Township supervisor after the unexpected death of Pamela Dressel.

Township residents will have the choice on Nov. 2 in the general election to keep Mrs. Heidelberg in the office or elect Walter Ruhl.

The campaigns of both candidates are both built around aiding the community, which has been good to them.

"That is why I feel it is the right time and I am the right candidate for the job of township supervisor," said Mr. Ruhl, 66, a Republican who is a real estate agent and retired GM Powertrain worker.

Mrs. Heidelberg, 55, a Democrat, said she wants to continue serving as an elected official.

"I have always been a volunteer. This is a good community to live. I am giving back for what I have received," she said.

Before the township board appointed her in late June, 2009, Mrs. Heidelberg was clerk for the township, a position she had held for five years. Prior to that, she was a township trustee.

"If I was not appointed supervisor, I would still be a member of the board because I was the clerk. I have been an elected official since 1992," she said.

Mrs. Dressel, 64, died May 21, 2009. She was in her ninth year as supervisor and had been re-elected to a four-year term in November, 2008. The election will determine who will serve the remaining two years of Mrs. Dressel's term.

The supervisor job pays $18,500 annually and the township provides a $200 monthly car allowance.

Mr. Ruhl is seeking elected office for the first time. He moved to the township with his family as a young boy and farmed until the mid 1980s. He has an associate's degree from Owens College and bachelor's in business from Lourdes College in Sylvania.

A number of important issues are facing the township board. Because of a raw sewage problem in Ottawa Lake, the township is mandated by the state to install a sewer system in the unincorporated village.

The township also is trying to bring water to Ottawa Lake and other areas in the township.

"We have to come up with some kind of plan to public water and sewers in Ottawa Lake," Mr. Ruhl said. "I believe I have the background, skills, and education to handle those problems."

Mrs. Heidelberg said she wants to continue planning for water and sewer improvements in the village and township.

"I think it would be easier to continue with the same group to follow through rather than put a new person in place," she said. "I want to see those through completion."

Mrs. Heidelberg served on the township park commission for about 10 years. She has an associate's degree in business administration from Monroe County Community College.

Voters also will decide the remaining two years of the township clerk's four year term.

Pat Nidek, who was appointed to the position in July, 2009, is being challenged by Angela Christensen.

Mrs. Nidek, 62, a Democrat, served 12 years on the township planning commission.

Mrs. Christensen, 53, a Republican, is the owner of a gift shop in Sylvania.

The clerk is paid a $1,491 monthly salary.

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