Four in hunt to be next Benton Twp. supervisor

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON TOWNSHIP — The supervisor’s seat has become one of the more contested races for Benton Township at the Aug. 2 ballot.

Since former supervisor Nora Jefferson stepped down for personal reasons in 2015, Kevin White was named supervisor during his term as a trustee.

However, the Democrat faces three other candidates who want to run on the ticket in November. White’s challengers include Willie Dortch, Anthony Jett and Joseph Taylor.

The top vote-earner will run unopposed at the November general election, as there are no Republican candidates for supervisor. The position holds a four-year term that ends in 2020.

Here’s a closer look at the candidates for supervisor, in alphabetical order:

Dortch, 72, is a retired employee at Lakeland Hospital who has a late wife and eight grown children.

Dortch made waves with township officials last summer when he filed two petitions to have Clerk Carolyn Phillips and Treasurer Debra Boothby recalled. However, Dortch was fined after the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office discovered nine counts of election law violation and false statement by a circulator.

He received specialty training through various jobs over the years and has not served on any boards or committees prior to running.

“The reason why I’m running is I’ve been to a lot of meetings and I’ve noticed the current board let people do certain things,” Dortch said. “They don’t treat people right. So, I decided to run. My goal is to straighten every thing out with the police department and bring the trust back from the people.”

Jett, 48, is a community administrator for Country View Apartments and Townhomes who has a wife, Traci, and three children.

He previously served as president of the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education and currently is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.

Jett has a bachelor of arts in education from Southern New Hampshire University, a masters in higher education from North Central University and is in the process of attaining his doctorate from NCU.

“I won’t just be a voice of change, but an effective leader who can get the job done and has a proven track record,” Jett said. “Not someone who is just talking, but someone with an open-door policy that can do the work. We need police officers to get to know the citizens, and the citizens need to get to know them.”

Taylor, 47, is an engineering technician at Whirlpool Corp. and has four children with his wife, Cindy.

He is vice president for the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education, a member and now president-elect for the Benton Harbor Sunrise Rotary, a coach for the Benton Harbor robotics team and community relations lead for AVID, an employee resource group at Whirlpool.

Taylor also has a degree in applied science water management from Bay de Noc Community College.

“I believe I should be elected supervisor because I have the leadership skills that are necessary, I understand board governance, and I’ll represent the spirit of public service and not self service, all while working for other citizens of Benton Township,” Taylor said.

White, 45, works for the Michigan Department of Transportation and has a wife, Yolanda, and a daughter. He is in his first term as supervisor after replacing Jefferson.

He serves on Benton Township’s Election Council, Benton Township’s Brownfield Committee, is a member with the Michigan Township Association and was elected to the township’s Board of Trustees in 2012.

“I feel I’m honest and not ashamed to do any job as supervisor for the township,” White said. “In the last four years, I’ve learned a lot of about the job and have been a member of this community my whole life.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on July 25, 2016)

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