Two PI men vie for board of commissioners seat

ROGERS CITY – Two Presque Isle County men want to serve on the county’s board of commissioners and are running as Republicans for the board’s Second District seat.

Rogers City Area Schools Board of Education member Lee Gapczynski and retired AT&T engineer Chuck Lewis are looking to fill the seat vacated by Kris Sorgenfrei. She announced she won’t be running for re-election this year, so the two men are hoping to bring their experience to county government.

Gapczynski said he believes he’d be a new face on the board, and would take a conservative approach with county finances. The Rogers Township resident has nine years of experience planning RCAS’s $5 million budget, plus 30 years of business experience.

“I believe that I have the knowledge of voters in the district and I represent them all,” he said.

A Rogers City High graduate and Alpena Community College alum, Gapczynski has been married for 36 years and has two children, he said. He’s a lifelong resident of Presque Isle County, and owns Lee’s Ready Mix.

If elected, Gapczynski would not stay on the school board, he said. He believes he could handle the duties of a county commissioner while running his business.

Lewis said he’d bring a lot to the table as county commissioner. He worked for AT&T and its various predecessors in Michigan for 31 years, 26 of which were in management. He’s dealt with unions, awarded contracts and worked with state and county road agencies.

“I love the community, and I want to do the best for the community,” he said. “That’s why I moved here after I retired.”

Most young people have to leave Presque Isle County to find a job, Lewis said, and he’s hoping to grow tourism by working with Pure Michigan and getting the most out of the county’s collaboration with Target Alpena.

Bringing in more industry is important as well, Lewis said. He cited Moran Iron Works and a high-wire corridor through the county as one positive example of business and government working together to create jobs.

Lewis was born and raised in the Detroit area, and was transferred to Petoskey while working for AT&T, he said. He worked there for around 20 years and moved to Presque Isle County full-time in 2001. He’s married and has one son, and lives on Rainy Lake in Case Township. Along with serving on the Case Township Board of Review, he’s president of the Rainy Lake Association.

The two candidates have somewhat different stances on what to do with the old and outdated county courthouse. Lewis said he believes the county needs to figure out what to do with it and soon. Gapczynski said he believes county commissioners should follow the will of the voters.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.