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Published: Monday, 8/27/2012

Politics make appearance at Bedford Twp. board meeting

Walt Wilburn Walt Wilburn
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TEMPERANCE — Election-year politics made a brief appearance at last week's Bedford Township Board meeting.

Greg Stewart, winner of the Aug. 7 Republican primary race for supervisor, took the lectern during a comment period and wished the man he defeated, incumbent Supervisor Walt Wilburn, good luck in his planned write-in campaign.

Greg Stewart Greg Stewart
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Mr. Stewart also addressed concerns by some that he had violated the federal Hatch Act by entering the supervisor's race. That law restricts political activities of employees of state or local governments or of agencies that receive federal loans or grants. Mr. Stewart is administrator for the city of Luna Pier, a post he would relinquish if elected supervisor.

Mr. Stewart said he had spoken to four lawyers who assured him he was not in violation of the Hatch Act.

Mr. Stewart scored a 231-vote upset victory in the primary and faces no Democrat in the race. Mr. Wilburn, in his second term, attributes his loss to low turnout and Michigan's primary election rules that require voters to follow a straight party ticket.

Twenty-five percent of Bedford's registered voters cast primary ballots, and only 13 percent voted in the supervisor's race.

In other business, board members heard from residents concerned about Monroe County Community College's decision to close the Whitman Center next June and July as a cost-saving measure necessitated by declining enrollment.

Judith Hamburg, a former director of the center, said the group Concerned Citizens 4 Whitman Center formed about a month ago, after the community college's board voted for the closure as part of the $27 million 2012-13 operating budget.

Ms. Hamburg said members of her group feared that the two-month closure was a preamble to shutting down the Whitman Center entirely.

Township board members agreed that reducing the Whitman Center's calendar could pose inconvenience and even hardship for township residents who would have to commute to Monroe for classes.

Also in attendance was David Nixon, the community college's president, who said before the meeting, "I can positively assure you that the Whitman Center will survive."

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