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Published: Wednesday, 10/27/2010

2 from Temperance to battle in District 8

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

CORRECTION: The Bedford Business Association does not endorse candidates and did not endorse the county's District 8 GOP candidate Jason Sheppard. The story also incorrectly stated the number of terms served by Commissioner Connie Velliquette. She is finishing her second two-year term.

MONROE - The race for the District 8 seat on the Monroe County Board of Commissioners features two Temperance residents: a Democratic incumbent bracing for more budget cuts and a Republican challenger who says he believes the county needs a friendlier business environment.

Commissioner Connie Velliquette is finishing up her second two-year term and says she has been campaigning hard, emphasizing her experience in county government in these trying times.

"We need the experience that I have," she said. "We don't need inexperience right now. This isn't the time to be learning on the job."

Her challenger, Jason Sheppard, never has held elective office but says he would bring a depth of private-sector experience that Ms. Velliquette lacks.

"I've been knocking on doors and doing literature drops," he said. "I've been received very well. People are receptive. This is a good year to run for county commissioner."

The district consists of Bedford Township east of Jackman Road and Erie Township south of Erie Road and west of Suder Avenue.

Ms. Velliquette, 69, was a secretary for Bedford schools for 26 years and served as the township's parks commissioner. She graduated from Waite High School and Stautzenberger Business College, both in Toledo.

Mr. Sheppard, 32, sells commercial real estate for Signature Associates in Toledo and in the winter operates his own company, Husky Snow Removal, which has a dozen trucks. He is a graduate of Whiteford High School and attended Michigan State University and the University of Toledo.

Monroe County is in a financial squeeze that continues to worsen, and officials plan more reductions in the 2011 budget, Ms. Velliquette said.

Cuts next year will amount to about 16 percent of 2010 spending, she predicted.

In Mr. Sheppard's view, at least part of Monroe County's problem is a less-than-friendly business climate, a condition he would work to rectify.

He said he knew of an Internet vitamin vendor that had a signed lease agreement but decided against operating in the county because of onerous regulations and fees.

Ms. Velliquette said she expects to spend about $3,000 on her campaign by Election Day. The funds have come from unions that have endorsed her, and private donors, and $500 from the county Democratic party. Endorsing unions include UAW Region 1A, the Monroe/Lenawee AFL-CIO Council, and Operating Engineers Local 324.

Mr. Sheppard estimates his campaign spending will be $4,000 to $5,000 and includes $1,000 from the Monroe County Republican Party. His endorsements include Right to Life of Michigan.

Contact Carl Ryan at:

carlryan@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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