The Dexter Forum allows candidates running for public office to come and “stump” for support. There is an actual stump (well, a one-inch high artistic stump platform courtesy of Sandy Hansen) that candidates must stand upon while pitching their cause. This past Saturday Jason Maciejewski stepped up to tell those attending why he wants to be elected County Commissioner in District 1.
Jason showed up with two of his children, students in Chelsea Public Schools, explaining to the group that he wanted his kids to experience community events and be engaged in area processes such as elections. The Forum was delighted to have them and as one regular quipped, “Jason’s kids bring the average age of the group down to 65.”
District 1 for Washtenaw County Commissioner covers the City of Dexter, Dexter Township, Lyndon Township, Salem Township, Lima Township, Scio Township, and the City of Chelsea.
Jason served on the Dexter Township Board of Trustees for 8 years. What prompted him to run for the Board was an incident at his home where emergency services were needed. “I had an emergency response situation at my home before I was elected and was less than pleased with the response time, at that time,” he explains.
Jason ran and was subsequently elected for the Board with the express intention of improving emergency services. “It motivated me to begin talking to some folks and serving with a goal of actually building a new fire hall substation in Dexter Township,” Jason says. Working through the process of public engagement and the advisory committee, Jason adds, “We actually built a new fire station two years ago. For me that was a really good deal.”
“Public safety continues to be important to me,” he says. “Many of the townships around Dexter contract for service. I want to be a voice to make sure we are providing service in a way that the townships understand the true cost and are getting the service they need.”
Jason has a Master’s Degree from the University of Michigan in Public Administration. He currently works for the nonprofit agency Senior Alliance. “This name probably doesn’t ring a bell with anybody but if I say ‘Meals on Wheels’, you’ll know,” he says. “It is one of the things we do. We find services for older adults that enables them to remain living in their home rather than a facility. It’s much cheaper and better for them.”
“One of the areas I’m really interested in is parks and trails,” he told the Forum. “You have here Dexter the Border-to-Border Trail which is part of the Iron Belle Project. My family and I use the Border-to-Border Trail and really want to see that connected. And although the County Commissioner might not be a direct influence on the trails, the way those trails do come together is through partnerships and collaborations of different groups in conversation with the County Commissioner. I really want to be a part of those conversations, especially for the Dexter, Chelsea, and Stockbridge sections.”
In his brief time on the stump, Jason also mentioned the mental health millage that was passed in Washtenaw County last November. His work with the aging population, the increase in suicides, and wide variety of other behavioral issues inspires him to be engaged with the decisions as how to best allocate those funds.
One of the biggest motivators for Jason to run for County Commissioner in District 1 is simply to give Western Washtenaw County a better voice, better representation in county matters. “I don’t think we have that right now,” he says. “I have a history of reaching across party lines and divisional lines to be that voice that best represents the concerns of the people who live here.”
Jason has already been serving the interests of western Washtenaw as chair of the Western Washtenaw Recycling Authority for the past 10 years. The program has been a success and grown under Jason’s leadership. “We’re taking a lot more material now than we used to from many different locations,” he explains. “We’re much more efficient now.”
When asked by a Forum member how his role as County Commissioner will better represent the western part of the county, Jason used the example of a hotel tax in Chelsea.
“There is a hotel tax in Chelsea on a number of hotels by the freeway,” he explains. “The revenue raised at those locations goes to the County Convention Bureau. Those funds however are not coming back at the rate they’re being sent. Nobody is saying anything about it. Nobody is advocating for the community to get those dollars back. I think that is one example of a lack of voice or lack of advocacy. To me that is very important.”
Forum moderator John Hansen gave Jason’s jacket a tug signaling the 30-second warning and Jason wrapped up his stump speech with, “One of the least understood elements of government is what’s going on at the county level. People are really engaged with city council, school boards, state and federal governments from the media. One of the roles I want to fill is talking about the county and what goes on at that level, partnering with other levels of government. I want to be an active voice and engage in those discussions.”