Election 2020: Candidates for Ingham County Treasurer

Lansing State Journal

Across Greater Lansing, voters have begun to cast ballots for the 2020 state primary election – absentee ballots are being sent out, with in-person voting to follow on Tuesday, Aug. 4. Winners of the primary advance to the 2020 general election on Nov. 3.

LSJ asked area candidates running for office to share their backgrounds, and answer a few questions on major topics to aid voters in their decision. Read excerpts from their answers below.

Eric A. Schertzing| Democrat (incumbent)

Eric Schertzing, Ingham County treasurer

Farm boy from Stockbridge. Undergrad from MSU’s James Madison College, Master's in Public Administration from Western Michigan University. Live in downtown East Lansing. 3 adult children. Board member of Lansing Urban Farm Project and Capital Area Community Services.

8 years as Chief Deputy Drain Commissioner. Past Committee member for Government Finance Officers Association of U.S. and Canada. Past President of Michigan Association of County Treasurers.

Democratic nominee for 8th Congressional District 2014; Democratic nominee for 67th State House District in 1992. Past Chair Ingham County Democratic Party. Precinct delegate.

Bruce Little | Republican

No response.

Candidates answer questions on major topics

What makes you more qualified than other candidates for this office?

Schertzing: The Ingham County Treasurer is a very complex job. I have the experience with Ingham County for almost 28 years, almost 20 as Treasurer. My opponent has no experience in a finance position.

Little: No response.

What are the three most important issues facing the county and how would you address them? What would you do in your first month in office?

Schertzing: 1 – The 2021 budget will be very difficult because of COVID health crisis causing an economic recession. I proposed a 2021 budget with a staff reduction to save 10% in cost. The spending of our fund balance resulted in a one notch lowering of the county credit rating – following two earlier upgraded during my tenure.

2 – Staffing and training to succeed in complex situations when the pay is below state government and university. We need to hire staff in core functions and decrease staff levels in other places. Fewer staff with better pay to be competitive in marketplace.

3 – Health of the City of Lansing. I will continue to partner in the county and with the city to streamline service. We need to provide service to public together, wherever possible, to conserve resources. In 2005 I formed the Ingham County Land Bank that has helped revitalize homes and neighborhoods in Lansing leading to a population increase. We need to do more, through the Land Bank, to improve housing in Lansing.

Little: No response.

Systemic racism is a major concern of mid-Michigan residents. As an elected official, what do you pledge to do to address problems in the community you want to serve?

Schertzing: I pledge to continue efforts to hire staff from the community that represent the community. I pledge to use the authority of my office and Land Bank to dismantle the structures of racism in housing in our community. Financial empowerment has proven to be a great tool. I will listen and continue to learn.

Little: No response.

RELATED:Info on candidates and key races for Ingham County voters

RELATED:What you need to know, info on key races for Greater Lansing voters

The treasurer’s office has had repeated issues regarding timely audits, which has cost the county money and eroded confidence. What will you do as treasurer to address the issues and ensure compliance?

Schertzing: The story of this issue was largely created by an aggressive reporter. The county audit has a small piece that concerns my office. A fact is the audit contract was not robust enough to be performed within the budget with committed county resources. The audit contract was increased in following years to reflect reality. I would be happy to talk more about this issue, but you should leave it behind. It was not worth the energy in 2017 to explore this issue in a balanced manner.

More importantly, my work at Ingham County Treasurer has earned the county millions in interest that are a direct result of my investment program. As Treasurer I have also made sure the tax foreclosure process generates a strong revenue stream for Ingham County. I have turned over $42,000,000 to the General Fund in the past 19 years – far exceeding the cost of running my office.

And finally, opening a Lansing Office for the first time ever in 2003 and created the 2nd County Land Bank in Michigan in 2005 has done more to connect Treasury to Ingham County residents and create confidence and good will between the treasurer, community and political leadership than any effort of my predecessors.

Little: No response.

The above information was compiled from questionnaires emailed to each candidate. If you have questions about our process, email opinions@lsj.com. To support work like this, consider subscribing. For more information, visit LSJ.com/subscribe.