MIAMI – Ottawa County voters will cast their ballots in the race for the District #2 County Commissioner’s seat, where incumbent Chad Masterson and Steven Chasteen will vie for the position.
The commissioners’ board chairman, Masterson — a Democrat— has lived in Ottawa County all his life and is a graduate of Miami High School and NEO A&M. His wife, Trishia, and he have been married for 28 years and live on a small farm east of Wyandotte with their two children, Annessa and Seth.
As commissioner for the last three and a half years, and chairman of the board for the last three, Masterson also serves on the Northeast Workforce Development board, which finds jobs for displaced workers, and works to help grow the regional economy as a member of the board of Grand Gateway.
Masterson said, “What I would like to do in the next four years is to continue to build on the infrastructure that we have placed since I have been in office. This was the first summer that we got to actually build up more of the base on the county roads and put in more infrastructures. We have had three record-breaking floods during my time in office and we emphasized this past summer the importance of getting the roads back up to where they should be. You’ve got to have a good base and good infrastructure before you lay asphalt, otherwise you are just throwing your money away,”
As commissioner, Masterson has worked closely with different entities within the county, especially the Grand River Dam Authority (and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
“We have been helping the GRDA put in a parking lot, a project we had wanted to team up with them on it for some time and the weather finally dried up enough where we can. And I worked closely with the BIA on the completion of State Line Road. We took that road that was in ridiculously bad condition and turned it into a very nice road,” Masterson said.
In addition, Masterson and his crew have replaced seven bridges in the county in four years; five were done with county labor, which saved hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Masterson. “One bridge project was pushed back to the eight-year plan (it had been shut down for over 10 years), but I spearheaded that operation and got it moving and now there is a very nice bridge there and people don’t have to go all the way around out of the way anymore,” he said. “I’ve got two bridge projects in the works right now. One is the bridge on 690 Road, which is going to be through the state and will be a million and a half dollar project. I can’t do that just in county…it’s too big. This bridge has been in the works for about a year and it’s getting closer all the time. And I’ve also got a big painting project on 680 Road that should be taking place next spring, also with the state,” Masterson continued.
“I work diligently to keep everything up and going. This has been the first summer where we’ve been able to haul material at will instead of playing catch-up with everything like the other two summers.”
Masterson is using the slogan “Working hard for you in District 2” for his campaign because, he said, “Everything we do and all the hard work we put in is to make roads for our county that are built to last into the future. Am I perfect? Absolutely not. I make mistakes just like everybody else. That’s how I learned…from my mistakes and rolling with the punches. I can say ‘Me, me, me” all day long, but it’s not a one-man effort. I have to have cooperation from other entities and my crew, so it’s a group effort all the way.”
When asked what will be on his agenda if he is re-elected, Masterson said he would like to continue improving the infrastructure on the roads and then put asphalt down so it will last longer. In 2017, during the first flood, District 2 experienced 125 different washouts. In 2019, with two record floods, the district was still able to cut the washout number down to 75 washouts, Masterson said. “And we have been working since then putting in cross drains and building culverts and putting in bridges to keep the water away from the roads. So it will be interesting to see how much further that washout number will be cut if another flood occurs.”
On some of the bridge projects coming up, Masterson said his district went through FEMA mitigation and FEMA agreed to pay 75 percent on the structures to avoid paying out on the same roads that washout time and again.
When asked why he should be re-elected, Masterson said, “Because the first term is a learning term, and I have learned a lot in my first term. And I have a lot of contacts in the county and all across the state and I can pick up the phone if my district needs anything and call somebody, if I don’t know the answer, and get an answer immediately.
“I would ask that voters look at my work record and what we, me and my crew, have accomplished. If you ask any commissioner across the state, building seven bridges in four years is quite an accomplishment,” Masterson continued. “I am on a first name basis with the engineering firm for the bridges and I have worked side-by-side with my men during and after floods, 100-mile an hour straight line winds, and tornados. They know they can depend on me, and so can the people we serve in Ottawa County.”
Chasteen, a Republican, says he is running to “revive, restore, and realign our county government with the people for which it serves, the CEO’s of the county.”
He continued, “Our county, more than ever, needs someone to stand up for our community who understands they work for you when taking the oath of office,” Chasteen continued. “They then honor it with hard work, transparency, and cooperation with the community to ensure it is safe, viable, and sustainable for our current community and generations to come.”
As a business owner and construction manager of multi-million dollar projects across the country, Chasteen said he always has a contract for services and doesn’t think that should change because he is running for office.
“I believe, as the CEO’s of the county, you should have a ‘contract’ with me as your commissioner,” Chasteen said. His list of actions he says he will achieve while in office that people can hold him accountable to accomplish include not approving any spending if it is not within budget and itemized, holding weekly meetings with the sheriff’s department to ensure the department and jail needs are being met, ensuring that all county employees with purchasing authority sign off on local and state policy, and holding anyone accountable that is proven to violate policy or law.
Chasteen also said he will work with local, state, and federal elected officials to identify and develop opportunities for business development and create jobs for the community, and work with strategic partners on being community focused to invest back into the community and not elsewhere.
“I will ensure a roads maintenance plan and schedule will be posted every quarter so the public knows where road work is being done as we restore and rebuild our county roads to a safe and reliable pathway for you and your families,” Chasteen said.
“And I will work with law enforcement, EMS, school districts, the post office, and community leaders to ensure we have a suitable emergency service route in our community, hold a monthly town hall in person to answer questions, and allow community citizens the time to speak up at board of county commissioners meetings,” Chasteen continued.
He also said he will work with the other commissioners to get two of the four meetings a month moved to 6 p.m. so that working men and women have a chance to attend, and will update the public monthly on progress through town halls, his Facebook page, and the media.
“I give you my commitment that if I fail to accomplish the job I have said I would do, I will resign. This is not a job or a career opportunity for me, this is a call to service because, like you, I have had enough and want our entire community to have the same opportunities and service that currently only a select few seem to get. This is our community, we are the people, and our local government must and will be for all the people again when I am elected,” Chasteen said.
Due to social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, Chasteen said he was not able to get out and meet everyone personally as he had hoped. “However, I sincerely look forward to meeting you all soon and am honored to be the Republican nominee for county commissioner and I humbly ask for your vote Nov. 3.”