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Posted on Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 4:32 p.m.

Washtenaw County treasurer candidates sound off in friendly forum

By Amy Biolchini

Not only did the two candidates for Washtenaw County treasurer dress similarly in conservative gray suits Monday night for an election forum, they both agreed it was better to steer clear of the bashing that comes with many political campaigns.

Incumbent Washtenaw County Treasurer Catherine McClary faced her opponent Marlene Chockley Monday night in a friendly, live televised forum hosted by the hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area at the CTN Studios in Ann Arbor.

Both women described themselves as honest to a fault, and often pitched questions to one another during the forum.

The Washtenaw County office of the treasurer has an annual budget of $1.4 million for the 2012 fiscal year and 12.5 positions paid by the county's general fund.

The treasurer serves a four-year term and has an annual salary of $98,570.

Chockley, a Republican and former Washtenaw County Commissioner, is currently chairwoman of the Northfield Township planning commission.

Citing changing demographics in Washtenaw County, Chockley said she’s running on a platform to make people more aware of the issue of an unfair tax burden being placed on people that can’t afford to pay.

“You name it, there’s taxes and surcharges on everything,” Chockley said. “As those costs go up, they’re less and less able to pay for their rent, their mortgages. I’m concerned that we’re pushing people over the edge by having too many taxes.”

Chockley cited SEMCOG statistics that over the next 25 years, the senior population in the county will grow by 150 percent, and many of them will live alone on fixed incomes.

McClary, a Democrat, said she is running for re-election because she loves the money management responsibility of being treasurer and being able to save people’s homes. She cited a model program implemented by the county that has held back 250 to 300 homes from foreclosure.

With a former career as an investment banker and stockbroker, McClary also served on the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners for six years.

Chockely admitted she doesn’t have banking experience like McClary, but knows how to balance her own household’s budget.

“I’m just here to make sure we’re looking at ways to reduce our government costs,” Chockley said.

The treasurer has to receipt, deposit and account for the approximate $1 billion that comes in and out of the county every year, and manage the county’s $150 million investment portfolio, McClary said.

The treasurer is also responsible for collecting taxes and foreclosing on properties.

Scarce resources at the county level means the treasurer’s office has a small staff. McClary said the challenge is to maintain levels of customer service and internal controls with reduced staff.

Chockely pointed out that the county could be pursuing more ways to offer its services online - a point McClary agreed with.

The county currently allows residents to purchase dog licenses online - and about 41 percent of all dog licenses purchased are done through the online portal, McClary said.

Something the treasurer’s office could do in the future would be to let people pay their delinquent taxes online, McClary said.

The Monday forum was the first of a series of forums that the League of Women Voters will host this week, which air live from 7 to 9:30 p.m. on Channel 19.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.


Alice I.Stevens

Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

Under normal circumstances I would vote Rep. but due to personal interactions with Ms Chockley during the 2004 election cycle, I will Democrat, because of her unethical ways . What caused this reaction was; Ms. Chockley was chairperson of the Washtenaw Rep. office since the 2000 election cycle and I was the main office volunteer and had been since 1998. I announced my intention to run for the national convention delegate position for the 15th Congressional District from Washtenaw Cty. early in the 2004 election cycle, this was welcomed by everyone in the office. Late in the election cycle Ms. Chockley decided to run for the same position. This was an indication that Ms. Chockley thought that she would be a shoo-in for the position. My wife and I decided that I would continue with the effort and composed an election flyer with a reference letter from Congressman Mike Rogers. At the county convention State Rep. Matt Milosch offered to nominate me during the 15th District caucus at the State Convention. At the 15th District caucus during the State Convention my wife and I came early to pass the flyers and talked up my attributes with favorable responses. Ms. Chockley came into the room, saw the flyer, was shocked by it, then talked to Mr. Milosch to try to get him to not nominate me. When she was told by Mr. Milosch to let it be, she waited until about 3 min. before the vote, came over to me, pleaded with me to withdraw from the delegate contest and instead enter the alternate delegate contest. This was unethical, but because she was the Chairperson, I agreed to withdraw. I should not have done this! The vote should have been decided by the people. For these reasons I cannot vote for Ms. Chockley in either the primary nor the general elections because she cannot be trusted to be for the people. This, I witnessed and verify. Moral of story: When one receives a pass on this unethical manipulation, it emboldens them to continue as they strive to get ahead politically.

andrew zweifler

Mon, Oct 15, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

I've known Cathy McClary for many years and have always been impressed with her integrity, intelligence and humanity. She has done an excellent job as Treasurer and deserves to be re-elected. Andrew Zweifler

Bob Nassauer

Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.

I have know Catherine McClary for almost two years. She is a person of the highest integrity and is smart, organized, experienced, a talented manager and leader and compassionate. There is no better person in our community to serve as County Treasuer. Please vote for her. Thank you.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 3:19 p.m.

I have known Catherine McClary for over 40 years. I have seen her function as an investment counselor, county commissioner, Women's Crisis Center and Safe House activist (working to pass the millage for the first publicly supported shelter for victims of domestic violence, building the shelter and as President of the Board) as well as her service as the longest serving County Treasurer in Washtenaw County history. Catherine is an information user in the sense that she listens to the experience of others and learns from them. Her innovative programs have brought in tax money that would have otherwise been lost to the county. She has made it possible for many county residents to stay in their homes when they would have lost them due to foreclosure. Her employment of social workers on her staff has not only benefited the residents they've helped, but also increased revenue to the county. The County Treasurer's office is one part of government that is working well. I strongly urge everyone eligible to vote for Catherine McClary.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:21 a.m.

Catherine McClary has handled our County Finances well and should continue to do so. Ms. McClary has my family vote!

The Secret Team

Tue, Oct 9, 2012 : 9:03 p.m.

Marlene Chockely is clearly the best candidate. She deserves our vote.