2017-02-26 / Insight

Cheryl Clark has served community for 30 years in various capacities

810-452-2609 • kmoralee@mihomepaper.com

Cheryl Clark is the longest-serving county commissioner on the current board. 
Photo by Krystal Moralee Cheryl Clark is the longest-serving county commissioner on the current board. Photo by Krystal Moralee LAPEER — Cheryl Clark was born and raised in Oregon Township. Or maybe it’s Marathon Township. Actually, it’s both. The home in which she was raised sat right on the line between the townships.

“The line went through our house,” she said. “My bedroom was in Oregon.”

Regardless, these days, the 63-year-old county commissioner lives in Marathon Township and represents the township as well as Deerfield and Rich townships as the District 1 commissioner.

It was around 30 years ago when she started cooking meals for the Lapeer Senior Center. She did that for a year and quit, and “the seniors called and asked me to run for county commissioner.”

Clark said she had absolutely no interest in politics, but after asking God to give her some guidance, she found herself in church, listening to a sermon about how more Christians should be involved in politics. She continued to resist until, she said, “God hit me over the head with a two-by-four.” She ran for office, won, and has had the seat ever since — 29 years all told.

“I didn’t have a clue what I was getting into,” she said.

Clark began attending college classes when she was 40, studying elementary education, and after she got her degree, she learned the Kids in New Directions (KIND) program was going to close. She agreed to take over for six months to get that program back on its feet.

“I stayed, and it’s been great,” she said.

She’s now the executive director of KIND, as well as the executive director of the Citizens Probation Council.

All of her roles allow her to do what she’s always liked to do — be of assistance in any way she can.

“County commissioner, KIND, Citizens Probation, it’s the ability to help people resolve their problems, concerns, and get their life back on track,” she said.

All of it has been a learning experience for Clark, the lone Democrat on the board, who sits on around 17 different committees as a commissioner. In fact, when she first came on board, she attended all the committee meetings — even the ones she wasn’t assigned to — because she wanted to learn about them all. She’s been at it for so long, she said, she feels her knowledge of so many things is a benefit to her constituents and the board as a whole.

“It’s always something different and it’s always something new,” she said. “The one thing I’ve learned is there’s two sides to every story, and you’ve got to learn the third and fourth side before you can make a decision.”

The variety, however, is a good fit for Clark, because she said she’s “a little bit ADHD” and can juggle a lot of different things at once.

“I can read a book in a crowded room and it doesn’t bother me,” she said.

Lest you think her life is all about meetings, she also finds time to help out husband Mike, who plays in a band called the Saucecats. She’s learned to run sound for gigs, and she also helps him out at trade shows — he’s been with Metamora Products for 44 years. The Clarks have three children and six grandchildren, and she said she loves sports and watching her grandkids play. She also is active with church, quilts, and likes to sew and make jewelry, though she doesn’t have a lot of spare time to devote to those hobbies.

Her husband, she said, is thinking about retiring, but she’s not ready just yet.

“I like my job, so I’m here,” she said. “And with KIND and Citizens Probation, they all know county commission comes first.”

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