The two Republican candidates vying for the 6th District seat on the Livingston County Board of Commissioners went head-to-head at a forum in Hamburg Township Monday.

The Pinckney/Putnam/Hamburg/Hell Chamber of Commerce held its "Meet the Candidates" forum at the township offices, inviting candidates from all of the contested positions in the August 7th primary election. Among the participants were the two GOP candidates for the 6th District seat - incumbent Bob Bezotte and challenger Steve Williams. Bezotte defeated Williams in the 2016 primary to take the seat from him following an often contentious relationship that often brought the two to loggerheads over a variety of issues. Despite that, they remained civil while sharing their thoughts on a variety of issues, including housing federal prisoners in the county jail, roads, and funding economic development organizations.

The pair was asked whether they supported continuation of county funding for the Economic Development Council of Livingston County and Ann Arbor SPARK. For the last five years, the county has partnered with the EDC, who in turn contracts SPARK to provide business recruitment and retention services in the region. In November, the County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to approve a one-year contract with the EDC for $175,000.

Bezotte says he is now questioning whether he’d again be in favor to continue the funding in the future, after reading a report from SPARK that he says claims the area doesn’t have the roads or infrastructure to support business growth. But Williams believes SPARK has been a helpful asset to the county because of the exposure it provides and the growth it’s helped achieve thus far. He supports each municipality having control over their own level of participation in the partnership, but notes it’s still beneficial to those who choose not to contract the organizations, as they can still access some of those services because the county has an over-arching contract.

The pair was also asked how they’d go about fixing local roads, assuming no help will come from the state level. Bezotte says he’s been working toward that by meeting with Livingston County Road Commission Managing Director Mike Craine, and would like to revert back to a shared-funding effort that was formerly in place and incorporated county, road commission and municipality funding. Bezotte says that shared funding would help bring additional road projects to fruition each year. Williams says the state and feds are responsible for road funding, and that the townships should not have to pass millages to fund repairs. Williams noted by law, the county can only allocate additional money for road funding as it cannot be allocated from its general fund.

Also featured at the forum were candidates for a newly created judgeship position in the 44th Circuit Court, 22nd District State Senator, and gubernatorial candidate Patrick Colbeck. (DK)