Walker challenged by Schilleman in District 7.

July 29, 2020

Walker challenged by Schilleman in District 7.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

Incumbent Robert Walker is being challenged by Rhonda Schilleman in the Aug. 4 primary for the District 7 county commissioner seat on the Oceana County Board of Commissioners.

Both Walker and Schilleman are republicans.

Robert Walker

District 7 includes Grant and Otto townships and a small portion of Shelby Township and the Village of New Era.

OCP sent the candidates questionnaires seeking biographical information, and the following information was provided by each candidate:

Robert Walker, 68, has been married to wife Janine for 43 years, and the couple has two adult sons.

Walker, who is retired, has worked as an outside salesman, police officer for three departments, police chief for two departments, DNR marine safety officer, and a copper mine and paper mill laborer.

He has served as county commissioner for 10 years, village president for 10 years, planning commission member, historical preservation commission member, member of the Mason/Oceana 911 Board of Directors/former treasurer, West Michigan Forensic Pathology Board/former secretary, former union president – FOP and is endorsed by the Right to Life of Michigan PAC.

Walker is the co-chairman of Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church building committee and a member of St. Simon’s Catholic Church.

He has an associates of applied science degree in criminal justice from Delta College; a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from Ferris State University; and master’s degree in public administration from Western Michigan University.

What is the single most important issue facing our county and what do you plan to do to address it? 

Rhonda Schilleman

“Fiscal responsibility. To always remember we are dealing with public funds. We must always look at the costs of programs and the effects they have on the public and the employees. One of the biggest issues we HAVE to address is the pension liabilities. We are very actively working on a long-term solution to this now.”

Rhonda Schilleman, 60, has two grown children — Carlee, 23, and Tyler, 20.

She is the owner of E-StoreReady, which is dedicated to bringing product catalogs up to today’s online store standards. She began her career with Howmet Corporation in contract management then worked from home for an online store.

“As a conservative, I served as Otto Township supervisor for 10 years — first voted in by the board then won two subsequent elections.” Under her leadership, the township developed a master plan; policies and procedures to meet the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Open Meetings Act; and an effective junk ordinance and ticket system.

Schilleman once taught Sunday School and currently serves as member at large for the Shelby Congregational Church. She has fought against the Karner Blue Butterfly federal project “which, unfortunately, ended with the decimation of flora and existing endangered species along with limiting access to the Huron Manistee National Forest.”

Schilleman has a master’s degree in business administration.

What is the single most important issue facing our county and what do you plan to do to address it?

“TRANSPARENCY AND BUDGETING: Our county has been run by the same people for a long time. I have noticed since the Open Meetings Act, our county has not changed much. Most decisions are already made by the time the commission is voting in the ‘more public’ meeting. At that point, constituent opinions really don’t matter, and the vote is just a formality for the board. I believe public input is absolutely necessary right from the start and will do what I can to make that happen while questioning baseline budgeting line by line. For example, why did we have to ‘borrow’ from the general fund to pay Life EMS? Why do our deputies’ vehicles have over 200K (miles) on them? Why is the jail not meeting minimum requirements and is understaffed?”

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