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VOLUME 9, NUMBER 3 FALL 2020
Blue Water Woman is published quarterly by The Write Company,
511 La Salle Blvd., Port Huron, MI 48060. Circulation 5,000.
Editor & Publisher:
Patti Samar, owner, The Write Company
Advertising, questions, comments or story ideas:
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Blue Water Woman is the premiere publication
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3 From the Editor
4 Jorja Baldwin
8 Caryn VanderHeuvel
12 Debra McNair
16 Stephanie Armstrong-Helton
20 Lisa Beedon
22-23 Blue Water Woman of the Year
24 Kimberly Bizon
26 Hockey Hall of Famers
For more information, contact Patti Samar
at 810-300-2176 or email her at email@example.com
2 FALL 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM
FROM THE EDITOR
Editor’s Note: Part of this “From the Editor” column originally ran in the Spring 2020
Tissue, but it is being repeated here, in light of the national election, as it explains precisely why
more women should be elected into office.
This year, more women will likely run for elected public office than ever before.
“What difference does it make whether or not there are women in office?” some
It has been proven that men and women approach problem solving in different ways.
It doesn’t mean one is better than the other, but it does mean that a greater gender
balance in elected public office could possibly create an even greater problem solving
ability in capitals across the nation.
One local example:
When Pamela Wall of Algonac was an elected official on the St. Clair County Board
of Commissioners in the 2000s, the county board was busy negotiating healthcare
contracts for its employees. Rising healthcare costs had commissioners looking for
various ways in which to save money.
There was a line item in the contract that specifically outlined the cost of
including birth control pill coverage for female employees and their eligible
family members. At the time, many insurance companies provided that coverage
as an additional rider to the basic healthcare package.
Wall’s counterparts on the county board – all men – discussed eliminating
birth control pill coverage as a cost saving measure. Wall objected, and dug a
little deeper into drug costs as a whole for county employees. She asked for, and
obtained, a list of all of the prescription drugs, and their associated costs, that
had been paid for by the county in the previous year.
The number one drug cost to St. Clair County?
That’s right. The little blue pill that helps men with erectile dysfunction. The
county was paying more for Viagra than for birth control pills.
When she brought that information to her next meeting, the board very
readily determined that maybe keeping the birth control pill coverage was not
such a bad idea after all.
This is why it is important for women to serve in public office. As a female,
Wall knew how important birth control pills are to women. She acknowledged
that her male counterparts were not trying to be discriminatory toward women,
but they didn’t think about the birth control pill issue the way a woman would.
Without Wall’s presence on the board that year, birth control pill coverage for
employees would have ended at that point in time.
As I edit this issue of the magazine, voting has already begun via absentee ballot. In
this issue, I am featuring a number of women in our community who deserve to serve
in public office. There are Democrats, Republicans and nonpartisan candidates featured
here. Each of them has an interesting and unique perspective on life and the many
reasons why it is important for women to hold public office.
And, don’t forget to read all the way toward the back of the magazine where I’ve saved
the best for last: a story about a group of trailblazing women who played in one of the
first-known all-female hockey leagues in the United States. Some of their equipment
was recently procured by the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Yup,
“the” Hockey Hall of Fame. Air horn cheers for all of them.
It is important to celebrate trailblazing women. It is important to elect women into
office so we have a seat at the decision-making table. It is important to listen to women’s
voices. They matter. They change the world for the better every single day.
Editor & Publisher
Blue Water Woman
FALL 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 3
BY PATTI SAMAR
IIf there is a local candidate running for office this year who
understands the value of each and every vote, it is Jorja Baldwin.
The former Fort Gratiot Township supervisor won her very first
election, a primary, in 2012, by just 86 votes.
That win launched Baldwin into the supervisor’s chair where she sat
until, in 2019, she applied for and was appointed to an open seat on
the St. Clair County Board of Commissioners.
In November, Baldwin is seeking re-election to that seat on the
county board, where she represents District 2, which covers the
precincts 1, 2 and 3 in the city of Port Huron, along with the
townships of Burtchville and Fort Gratiot. She is running as a
Republican, and she is unopposed.
FALL 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 5
Making a Positive Impact
During her seven years as supervisor in Fort Gratiot Township,
Baldwin more than left her mark on the community, having
moved forward with the construction of a new township office
center, the expansion of recreation areas, including one of the few
dog parks in the county, and an assortment of other municipal
Baldwin began making a positive impact on Fort Gratiot
Township, however, long before she became supervisor. She
began working for the township in 1995 through a high school
“I worked as the building department clerk,” she said. In a short
period of time, she moved on to assignments in assessing and
zoning ordinances. She quickly realized it would benefit her, and
the community, to know more about the construction process, so
within a year she had obtained her builder’s license.
“I wanted to know, ‘Does this require a two-penny nail?’” she
said. She also realized holding that license would help her earn
credibility both within the office and within the community. To
this day, she maintains her assessing certification.
During her more than 20 year tenure at the township, Baldwin
learned that if something needed to be done, she needed to roll
up her sleeves and learn how to do it.
“You wear a lot of hats,” she said. “If there was a need, I filled
Her favorite part of working within government revolves
I realized if I ever wanted to effect some
kind of change that will help the next
building official or zoning official, then
I need to go to the next level.
The question becomes, ‘How do you get a
township or city’s voice to the state level?’
6 FALL 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM
“It is the basis for the quality of life in a community,” she said. “It
is the playbook for good in a community.”
Big Picture Vision
When the opportunity to apply for a seat on the county
commission arose, Baldwin decided to apply for a number of
“I had started to get frustrated with things I had no control over,”
she said of her role as supervisor at the township. “I realized if I
ever wanted to effect some kind of change that will help the next
building official or zoning official, then I need to go to the next
level. The question becomes, ‘How do you get a township or city’s
voice to the state level?’
“I feel like I wanted to be at a different level of government to
affect that change.
“I felt like I’d peaked and this was a next good step to expand my
network. County government is focused mostly on revenue and
economic development. I felt that was a natural next step.”
Baldwin also understands that becoming a a true leader and not
just a politician means that politics actually need to be put aside so
the big picture can be better viewed.
“A lot of people get into politics due to one issue,” she said. “If you
can’t move past that issue, you’re never going to work as a team, and
if you can’t work as a team, you’re not going to get anything done.
“You learn that every relationship is about compromise.”
Women in Office
Baldwin encourages women who are interested in running for
office to move forward and do so.
“Sometimes women can be our own worst enemies with
overanalyzing everything,” she said. “I think you should just do it.
If you have a desire to serve, you should find a way to do it.”
She also noted that women sometimes face situations that men
do not, whether in public office, or just in the workplace, in
“My mom always says to me, ‘You have a family to raise,’ and
nobody says that to a man,” she said. “I have an equal partner in
my husband, Scott. When I am at a meeting at night, people will
ask me, ‘Where’s Scott? Who’s with the kids?’ People do not run
into my husband and ask about his kids.”
All that said, she noted that it is important for women to take a
seat at the table.
“Women, in general, can bring a different perspective,” she said.
“We do see things differently, in general, and there’s a lot of good
in that. You need that diversity to represent the whole.”
Baldwin said things have changed a lot since she began working
for Fort Gratiot Township more than 20 years ago.
“I’m not the only girl in the room anymore, and I’m finding
some allies with the men in the room,” she said. “We have some
really impressive role models in women in St. Clair County and
that is something to be very proud of.”
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FALL 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 7
8 FALL 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM
BY DALE HEMMILA
“Politics is personal. Elections are about people.”
-- David Greene, Journalist
Friend of Court Attorney Referee Caryn VanderHeuvel
understands how personally the outcomes of court cases affect families
in St. Clair County. Every day in her work, she makes decisions
that affect people’s lives in a myriad of ways, and she doesn’t take
that responsibility lightly. Better than most, she understands the
importance of having an experienced, compassionate and, most of all,
fair judge behind the bench.
That commitment and dedication to ensuring that citizens in St.
Clair County are treated with respect and fairness in the courtroom
were driving forces behind VanderHeuvel’s decision to run for St.
Clair County 72nd District Court Judge.
A Port Huron native, VanderHeuvel decided to run in 2019, when
she knew that District Judge Cynthia Platzer’s term was ending and
Platzer had indicated that she was not planning to run for re-election.
Platzer then ended up retiring a year early, thus leaving a then-open
seat on the bench.
“About a year and a half ago, some friends who are attorneys
came to me and said, ‘We heard that Judge Platzer is talking about
retiring and not running again and we really could use somebody
with your temperament and your world view in the District Court,’”
After some thought, and with the support of her husband and five
children, she made the decision to run.
“My family said, ‘Public service is what you are already doing
working with these clients and their everyday issues, and this is just
another step,’ so here we are,” she said, recalling her family’s response.
While new to running for public office, VanderHeuvel brings
plenty of legal experience into the race.
Her Juris Doctor degree is from the University Of Detroit School
of Law, where she graduated with honors, in 1997. She went on
to practice as an attorney focusing on family law. She also spent
more than 10 years as Research Attorney and Law Clerk for St. Clair
County’s 31st Circuit Court, working closely with now-retired Judge
Peter Deegan until 2010 when she moved into her position at the
Friend of Court.
It is with that strong base of legal knowledge and experience that
she hopes to add common sense, compassion, humanity and, most of
all, fairness, as a District Court judge. She noted that Friend of Court
matters revolve around family legal issues and it is not unusual for the
same population to end up in District Court.
“We see a lot of the same people in the Friend of Court that we
do in District Court,” she explained. “I see them in Friend of Court
because they may be struggling with financial issues, child support or
parenting custody issues. A lot of those same families are struggling
with criminal issues, landlord- tenant issues, and small claims issues.
The skills that I’ve built in Friend of Court trying to resolve those
issues, I think, really transitions well into District Court.”
VanderHeuvel believes that a judge in that position needs to be
creative in dealing with the people who would come before the bench.
“You need to have a judge in District Court who is willing to
look beyond the one solution of incarceration,” she explained.
“Throwing people in jail is not what’s going to be best for individuals
or for the community. These are not hardcore felons that we are
going to incarcerate for 20 years. These are our neighbors and our
family members. We need to consider all the options in regard to
rehabilitation. That’s something that, as a Friend of Court referee
when I’m resolving family issues, I have to consider all the options.”
FALL 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 9
VanderHeuvel is running against former St. Clair County Assistant
Prosecuting Attorney Mona Armstrong. When Judge Platzer retired
early, Armstrong was appointed to the District Court position. While
Armstrong is considered the incumbent, VanderHeuvel points out that
should not hold much weight for voters in this instance.
“The incumbent in this case was not elected, and she has never
been elected; she ran for a bench 10 years ago and was defeated,”
VanderHeuvel pointed out. “Even though she was appointed in
March, the courts were closed until June, so at the time of the election,
she will only have four to five months experience in the job. The
citizens of St. Clair County should vote to choose their District Court
Beyond that, however, VanderHeuvel also noted the differences in
their legal experience.
“I have a great amount of respect for my opponent,” she said, “but
I think we have a very different approach to the law and how cases in
District Court should be handled. When you work as a prosecutor,
you have one job and that is presenting evidence to obtain a conviction
and then argue for maximum incarceration.
“When you are a judge, you have to see both sides. You have to take
a look at the bigger picture and you have to understand that these are
real people who live in our community, who will be returning to our
community, who are going to live next door to you and work where
you work. You have to get creative, you have to address the underlying
issue, not just behavior, but how do we help them get through this
and become a productive member of society again. Incarceration can’t
always be the answer.”
The issues aside, campaigning for public office in this year of a
pandemic has been a different challenge that all candidates, including
VanderHeuvel, have had to deal with. Her campaign planning began
The incumbent in this case
was not elected,
and she has never been elected;
she ran for a bench 10 years ago
and was defeated.
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in July of 2019, and she and her team laid out a scenario where they
would participate in parades, community activities, and fundraising
events, handing out T-shirts and other campaign material. That entire
plan all unraveled in this unparalleled election year.
“One by one, things got cancelled and postponed and it’s given all
candidates far fewer opportunities to connect with people,” she said.
Without a playbook to follow for this type of campaign interruption,
they got creative in how they would approach a public campaign
which would feature very little personal interaction with the public.
“We are doing neighborhood canvassing called literature drops,” she
explained. “It used to be called door-to-door, but we are doing very
little door knocking. We are just dropping off my literature. If people
are outside, we do strike up a conversation, but with proper distancing,
and people have been very welcoming. I think it shows people that
I’m connected to the community and I’m willing to get out and meet
people and to put in the time and the effort.”
With the finish line in sight of what has been a more than a year long
journey, VanderHeuvel remains committed to working the process and
delivering the message despite this year’s campaign challenges.
“What it’s really done is it has forced us to be laser focused on what
we can do,” she said. “This is what we are going to focus on to do it to
the best of our ability.”
That focus continues to be on the message that there are differences
that a judge with her experience and background can bring to the
District Court with an opportunity to resolve issues focusing keenly on
the people before her court.
“There is no cookie cutter solution in family law, and in District
Court, I don’t think there should be either,” VanderHeuvel said. “You
have to look at the people in front of you, the facts of the case and try
and craft a solution for each case.”
There is no cookie cutter solution
in family law, and in District Court,
I don’t think there should be, either.
You have to look at the people in front
of you, the facts of the case, and try
and craft a solution for each case.
FALL 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 11
12 FALL 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM
BY PATTI SAMAR
Debra McNair wants to be a voice of change.
McNair, a Port Huron native who retired after working at DTE for 29
years, is running for a seat on the Port Huron Schools board of trustees.
If elected, she would be one of no more than a handful of black people
who have served in the history of the school board.
“I am running because I can be a voice of change and can help with
diversity of thought,” said McNair, who attended Cleveland Elementary
School, Central Middle School and Port Huron High School, graduating
in 1972. “I am a product of this school system, and I saw the good, the
bad and the ugly with regard to diversity.”
FALL 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 13
McNair, who remembers students walking out of class in protest of
racism while she was in high school in the late 1960s and early 1970s,
said she decided to run for the school board after the death of George
Floyd in Minneapolis ignited racial protests nationwide.
“When Trayvon Martin died in 2012, we had a small protest and we
asked people to open their eyes to what was going on here.
“And then George Floyd died, and it just kind of re-ignited all of that
“It inspired me to move outside of my walls. They say, ‘Somebody
can do it…well, that somebody is you.’ I’ve always been a person who
always tried to help and make a difference.”
McNair’s resume is long and impressive. She attended St. Clair
County Community College, where she majored in psychology. She
later attended Ashland Theological Seminary and received a master
of arts degree in Practical Ministry. She is a licensed and ordained
minister and continues to serve on the Ministerial Board at Restoration
Christian Community Church in Port Huron.
During her 29 year career at DTE, McNair worked in a variety
of positions, ending her career as a supervisor overseeing corporate
security and investigations. She also worked as a diversity facilitator,
where she designed and taught programs to employees throughout all
facets of the company.
McNair believes her understanding of racial issues, and her
experience teaching herself and others about issues surrounding
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diversity, can be of great benefit to the school board.
“When I was at DTE working as a diversity facilitator, it helped me
to understand diversity of thought,” she said. “The reward for me was
to see people evolve and begin to understand diversity…when they
said to me, ‘I didn’t know that…’”
McNair found that experience especially satisfying after having begun
her career at DTE as a black woman working in a male-dominated
“I was the first black woman that worked at Detroit Edison
that worked in a non-traditional job, and those guys made my life
miserable,” she said of her early days with the company.
“You have a double-whammy when you’re a black woman,” she
said, noting that, in addition to race, gender also played a role in the
discrimination she faced at work.
Years later, she watched her daughter, a 1994 graduate of Port Huron
High School, face similar discrimination at school when she was the
first black person elected as class president.
“They did a recount on the ballots because no black person had
ever won before,” she said. “So I helped her deal with all of that. But
it helped because it opened a new door. From that year on, black
students started running for that seat because they had seen that it
could be done.”
And McNair’s daughter? Today she is an attorney.
McNair decided to run for office because, she knew, that just like
when her daughter ran for class president, not only might she be able to
provide a voice of diversity at the table, but she knows others might be
inspired by watching her run, too.
“I’ve seen all of that and I’ve experienced the racism and the
segregation,” she said. “It’s time to put this baby to bed. It’s time for
inclusion and it’s time to stop marginalizing people. We need to put our
“I think 2020 means perfect vision,” she said. “This has been a year
for people to open their eyes and see things clearly. I may not change
the world, but if I can change somebody in the next generation or the
school system in the way they see things, it is worth doing.
“I want to bring a passion and hope to the school board. Let’s make a
difference in some people’s lives. I do think we’re on the cusp of change.
The millennials have a whole different concept of how this world
“You don’t have to re-invent the wheel, we just need to ask how to
make the world better for everyone? How can we make a difference in
the lives of other people?
“I want to be a voice and help make a difference. You’ve got to go
where you’ve never been, and you’ve got to do what you’ve never done.”
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to take the wheel
BY PATTI SAMAR
SStephanie Armstrong-Helton is kind of a policy wonk.
The Democratic candidate for the Michigan House of
Representatives 83rd District, which serves Sanilac County,
Burtchville Township, Fort Gratiot Township and the city of Port
Huron, has spent a career of 30-plus years working in marketing,
communications and governmental advocacy. She currently works
as a Communications and Grassroots Advocacy manager for Trinity
Health, based in Troy.
A graduate of Port Huron Northern High School, St. Clair County
Community College and the University of Detroit, Helton resides in
Fort Gratiot with her husband of 29 years.
“I have a lot to offer given my healthcare and political advocacy
background,” said Helton. “We have the opportunity to build healthy
communities and a healthy economy. They are not separate.”
Helton is running against political newcomer, Republican Andrew
Beeler, 28, of Port Huron.
“You want someone in this position who has life experiences and
who will work 150 percent for the community,” said Helton. “I
would want a representative who has vast life experiences, especially
during this time of life challenges, and someone who can pull from a
variety of life experiences when enacting policy.
“I’m the only person in this race who has that kind of experience.
I know how a bill becomes a law. I’ve helped write policy and I’ve
worked across the aisle.”
Helton has long been involved in local politics, and not only
through her job. She has held positions on the board of the St. Clair
County Democratic Party, and she has worked for and volunteered for
numerous local campaigns.
Sounding almost surprised to be a candidate for office, Helton
laughed and said: “I’m not really a politician, I’m not going to wear
the suit and I’m not going to do the glad-handing. But when it comes
right down to it, politicians are just regular people who want to help
other people. And you can work together to accomplish things.
“Politics doesn’t have to be divisive. It’s clear, as humans, we have a lot
In terms of the issues facing the residents of the 83rd District, Helton
noted that economic development, which can lead to an increase in
jobs across the community, is important, as is the environment, since
the district sits on the shores of the Great Lakes.
“Jobs are a big one,” she said. “We’re a service industry community,
and we’re a farming and agricultural community. We need to look at
diversifying what we do here. It’s so beautiful here. I still can’t believe we
FALL 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 17
are largely undiscovered.
“We need to ask ourselves, ‘How can we look outside of the box and
look at the beauty of our community and build on our quality of life
and boost our economy at the same time?’”
Through her work for Trinity Health, a faith-based organization that
resonates with her deep Catholic faith, Helton has worked extensively
on advocacy of healthcare-related issues. She believes the Affordable
Care Act (ACA) is a good example of the way that once laws are
enacted, they can actually be growing and evolving entities.
“The Affordable Care Act was well thought out, but it needs to be
revamped,” she said. “There’s more that can be done to improve it.
“These things evolve when a policy is enacted. It’s not perfect, but it’s
incremental success. You never hit a home run out of the gate. Policy
making is a long term endeavor. People think, well, nothing gets done
in Washington or Lansing and that is just not true. It takes time.
“I’ve stood in Washington and in Lansing during the debate and
passage and failures of policy.”
Helton noted that she ran for office once, 36 years ago.
“I ran for secretary for student government at SC4 in 1984 and I
won,” she said. “That was my last victory.
“There are so many things on the line right now, I believe we need
someone in Lansing with proven policy-making experience and
successful relationships across the aisle. I think voters want someone
who is well-rounded and who can approach the work from a mature
Making a reference to her opponent’s youth and lack of political and
life experience, Helton said: “Now is not the time to hand the keys to
the kids. It’s time for Mom to take the wheel. I’m that mom.”
Voters want someone who is well-rounded
and who can approach the work from a
Now is not the time to hand the keys
to the kids.
It’s time for Mom to take the wheel.
I’m that mom.
At Blue Water Developmental Housing,
Inc., we believe in empowering the people
we serve to follow their dreams
and live their very best lives.
We have successfully accomplished
that mission for more than 40 years,
thanks to the auspices
of a strong board of directors,
and leadership team, many of whom
are strong, empowered women.
The individuals we assist don’t just thrive ... they soar.
To learn more about volunteer or donor
opportunities, contact our office today
at (810) 388 - 1200 or visit our website
2016 Blue Water Woman
of the Year
Photo of individual we serve, Dacey Pritchett, in flight
Blue Water Developmental Housing, Inc.
1600 Gratiot Blvd., Suite 1 Marysville MI 48040
(810) 388-1200 www.bwdh.org
18 FALL 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM
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20 FALL 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM
BY PATTI SAMAR
You could call Port Huron City Councilwoman Lisa Beedon of
Port Huron the “unexpected politician.”
“Five years ago, if you would have asked me if I was going to be in
politics, I would have laughed,” she said with a laugh.
After having served two years of a four-year term on the council,
Beedon is setting her sights higher, as she runs, as a Democrat, for
a seat on the St. Clair County Board of
Commissioners serving District 3. The seat
is currently occupied by longtime County
Commissioner Howard Heidemann, also
a Democrat, who is retiring at the end
of his current term. District 3 covers the
south side of Port Huron, covering voting
precincts 4 through 10.
“Howard let me know he was on the
fence about running again,” Beedon said
of Heidemann, who encouraged her to
pursue his seat. “There are not a lot of
vocal Democrats in our area, and this
district is the most diverse in the color
of our skin, our income, our level of
Though she realizes, as a Democrat, she
is in the minority county-wide, Beedon
is drawn to the party for a number of
I think, when
we need to lean into
“It’s the social issues that push me over to that side,” she said. “I’m
fiscally conservative, but I believe in equal pay, and equal rights.
Wage disparity is real, and you then extrapolate that to people of
color…I want to build that equality, that equity.”
Beedon, who serves as the director of marketing and
communications at Lake Huron Medical Center in Port
Huron, has been dedicated to community service, volunteering
for numerous nonprofits in the community, and business
organizations, as well.
After graduating from Port Huron Northern in 1998, Beedon
went on to Central Michigan University, where she received a
bachelor’s degree in broadcasting and cinematic arts before living
in both Lansing and Arizona. While in Arizona, she obtained
a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Concordia
I want to be collaborative
and make sure everyone
is represented at the table.
She returned to the Blue Water Area in 2009 and accepted a
position with AmeriCorps, which is the state-side version of the
Peace Corps. During her time with AmeriCorps, she was assigned
to Blue Water Habitat for Humanity, where she served as volunteer
Those experiences helped her develop the ability to take a look at
the big picture and to look at any number
of issues from many different perspectives.
She has applied that knowledge while
serving the community in any number of
“When I sit on boards, I take a look
around and ask, ‘Who are we missing?
Whose voice is not here at the table?’” she
A strong believer in inclusion and
acceptance, Beedon ended up running
for city council, initially, for a number of
”“I was seeing things I don’t think are
acceptable behaviors,” she said of her foray
into politics. “I think, when opportunities
present themselves, we need to lean into
them, so that’s what I did with city council,
and that’s what I’m doing with the county
commission seat. I want to be collaborative
and make sure everyone is represented at the table.”
Currently, there is only one other woman seated on the board of
commissioners. Jorja Baldwin was appointed to a seat in 2019. Prior
to Baldwin’s appointment, it had been more than a decade since a
woman was a member of the board.
Beedon encourages other women to run for office.
“I’d tell them to do it,” she said. “If they are thinking about it at
all, do it. We need to be intentional. I’m completely open to talking
to other women who might be interested. If I can reach out and
help them, I will.”
When she talks about equality and equity, Beedon references
gender equity as being important to her.
“Anything that we want to do as a gender, lean in,” she said. “If
there’s an open seat at the table, sit in it. Sometimes we have to take
intentional steps forward. Don’t tell yourself no.”
FALL 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 21
who will be named...
Blue Water Woman
of the Year?
Nominations now being accepted
for Blue Water Woman of the Year!
The Blue Water Woman of the Year Awards will honor women who reside in the
Blue Water Area of Michigan who demonstrate excellence and achievement
in one or more of the following areas:
• Volunteerism or personal achievement
• Mentoring other women
• Professional achievement
• Overall Honor: Blue Water Woman of the Year
Nominators MUST complete the nomination form and rules available at
Honoring the Award Recipients:
Those selected for awards will be notified in early December 2020.
All will be featured in a story in the Spring (February) 2021 issue of the magazine.
All will be honored at a public reception on January 29, 2021, pandemic permitting.
Nominators must be committed to selling a minimum of 20 adult tickets to the awards reception.
Receiving an award is no fun without a cheering section!
Award recipients MUST be available to attend awards ceremony; “must be present to win.”
Deadline for Submissions:
Submissions must be received by email or snail mail no later than
Wednesday, November 18, 2020.
Submissions must be emailed in one zipped file to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blue Water Woman reserves the right to refuse nominations for consideration without cause. All decisions are final and subject
to approval by Blue Water Woman. Why? Because we said so. ;)
must go on
If the Emmy’s and the Country Music Awards can go virtual, so can
the Blue Water Woman of the Year Awards.
As the year has progressed and we have begun living life much
differently than we were living it less than one short year ago, I
decided that, no matter what, there would be a 2021 Blue Water
Woman of the Year Awards program.
It just might look a little differently than in the
So here’s the straight skinny: I am continuing to
chat with my friends/partners at McMorran Place,
where the annual awards take place every year. We
believe that, one way or another, we can pull off
one heck of an awards program with or -- most
likely without -- a live audience.
Please help us make our 10th Annual Blue Water
Woman of the Year Awards one of the most
successful ever, even with a new virtual format.
I encourage all Blue Water Woman readers to
nominate the most accomplished women they
know, and we will make sure the five or six
brightest and best are honored in early 2021, just like we always
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
The 2021 Nomination form can be found at
The deadline for nominations is November 18, 2020.
I look forward to reading your nominations.
2016 BLUE WATER WOMAN OF THE YEAR AWARDS
Blue Water Woman
FALL 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 23
24 FALL 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM
BY DALE HEMMILA
Kimberly Bizon is the face of determination.
A candidate running for Michigan’s 10th Congressional District,
Bizon is making her second straight run for the seat as a Democrat in
a traditionally Republican district. Even though she lost in 2018 to
Republican Paul Mitchell by more than 70,000 votes, she is back on the
campaign trail hoping to change voter’s minds in 2020.
“It’s definitely an uphill battle,” Bizon acknowledged recently while
discussing her campaign. “We had a lot of financial challenges in 2018
and we currently have financial challenges to meet, but we have over 300
volunteers mobilized to try to get the word out.”
That “word” includes addressing issues such as climate change and
leveraging the Congressional seat to help rejuvenate the area.
“A lot of times, the representatives for District 10 go to D.C. and they
don’t bring anything back home,” she said.
“They are approving policy, sponsoring and
co-sponsoring bills, but they are not bringing
anything home to a rural area like District 10.
And then especially with Paul Mitchell, he really
missed the mark in not having any townhalls and
not being transparent.”
Bizon, a resident of Lexington who is currently
on pandemic furlough from her job as an online
interactive director of marketing and advertising
from the Southfield-based Sussman Agency,
would like to change that, starting with reaching
across the aisle.
“Your representative as a Democrat should be able to speak to a
Republican representative, and I’m not seeing that happen,” she explained.
“I think that you need to represent everybody; you might not agree, but
maybe you can find some middle ground. I think I’m able to do that.”
And Bizon describes her policy views in fairly simple terms.
“I love progressive ideals, but I’m also a little more moderate as well,” she
said. “Meaning, I try to work within the system to move the needle on
climate change and to bring back jobs and a living wage and, of course,
Bizon won the August Democratic Primary by nearly 4,000 votes over
Mount Clemens’ Kelly Noland, while political newcomer Lisa McClain
defeated current State Representative Shane Hernandez in the Republican
primary. It is now McClain who is in Bizon’s sights for the Congressional
“She spent $2.4 million, I believe, on her primary,” Bizon said. “She
spent $1.4 million on commercials that were just attack ads. The people
up here in Croswell and Lexington were really surprised, and as a whole,
I think that the community believes you should say what you’re going to
say, and you shouldn’t benefit from putting another person down.”
Bizon expects McClain, who has described herself as a Trump
Republican, will spend significantly on her campaign in the general
“She’s going to spend another $1.2 million is what we predict, and she’s
already attacking us,” Bizon said.
Without similar financial resources, Bizon says her campaign will look
to more creative ways to get her message across.
“We have the most phenomenal people who are passionate about
the things I am fighting for,” she said, “We see some weaknesses in
Lisa McClain. She’s one thousand percent with President Trump, and
I don’t think that message resonates well. I think that there are a lot of
Republicans that are not Trump Republicans. We’re trying to be really
smart about our targeting, and very resourceful about our money.”
That means walking door-to-door to drop off literature, setting up
phone banks, dropping off signs, using social media, and creating an
analytics team for campaign study.
“We feel we are ahead of it right now and we are going to continue
moving forward and spend as much time and energy that everybody can
give,” she said.
That effort will be focused on getting her
message across to voters, hoping they will look at
her as the right person for the job.
“I understand the 10th District,” she said. “I
was raised on a farm so I can connect with the
farmers and the hard work they do every day.
I also come from a tourist community, so I
understand the need for tourism and small-town
revenue. As far as schools and opportunities and
broad band, I understand the challenges they
have. I’m just really for people and communities;
we need some help and they need a voice, and I
want to be that voice in Congress for them.”
Bizon says the current Democratically-controlled House of
Representatives has done a good job over the past two years, but she
remains concerned that the U.S. Senate has not taken up much of the
legislation passed by the House and that points to the overall divide in
“I feel with the current administration, it’s shock value every week,” she
said. “Instead of bringing unity to America, we find ourselves divided.
Truth matters. I just want to make sure we elect the right people and we
just need to educate people and remind them of our common humanity.”
While she rejects the term “underdog” for her political status, Bizon
is still aware that she is in an uphill struggle as a blue candidate in a red
district fighting what she calls some “media bias” and also taking on a wellfunded
“The seat should not be bought,” she said. “I believe in campaign reform
and I believe it should be a fair playing field. But I believe the voters are
smart I think they will look at the candidate and see if this is someone that
can represent me. Is this someone I can talk to?”
Of course, Bizon believes that someone is her and will take the race all
the way to November 3rd.
“I could quit,” she said. “I’m sure there are days when maybe I want to
quit sometimes, but when I see a child or when I see the young children, I
know I have to go to bat for them. You don’t quit on things that matter.
“My heart is in the right place to represent the people, and I do believe
that we are going to win. I hope people don’t get discouraged. I believe if
people get out and vote I will be in Congress in January.”
FALL 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 25
BECKY MAYES, LEFT, AND PAM BAUNOCH
hall of famers
BY PATTI SAMAR
Photo, from left to right: Nancy Cruickshank Badly, Lynn Charboneau Burgett, Carol Bellow, Sandy Cruickshank, Kathie McCormick, Nan Morauski,
Jacki Park DeLacy, Patty Lynch, Marsha Coney-Stroh, and Brenda Mudge Ruttan
26 FALL 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM
“There’s no crying in baseball!”
–Tom Hanks as Coach Jimmy Duggan in the women’s baseball movie, “A League of Their Own”
According to Brenda Mudge Ruttan of Port Huron, there is also no crying in hockey.
In the early 1960s, Ruttan used to strap on the skates and play with other neighborhood kids. “If I
cried, I had to go home,” she said. “If I got hit with the puck, I had to go home. So big girls don’t cry.”
That early lesson served Ruttan well come 1964 when she and approximately 44 other Blue Water
Area teenaged girls formed what is believed to be the very first women’s hockey league in the United
States at McMorran Place in Port Huron.
Though that original league only existed for four seasons, they are leaving their mark on the history
of the game with some of their equipment and other memorabilia recently being accepted into the
Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Yup. The Hall of Fame.
The jersey belonging to Carol Bellow of Port Huron, who also played in the league, has been
officially accepted into the Hall of Fame archives. According to representatives from the Hall of Fame,
FALL 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 27
I think it’s great; it’s fantastic.
I’m so happy. I wish they would recognize us
here, but I’ll take it over in Canada.
We used to whoop their teams pretty good.
the jersey, which has undergone professional preservation since it was
acquired by the Hall of Fame, may be included in either traveling
exhibits that the Hall of Fame circulates throughout the United States
and Canada, or possibly on display at the Hall itself, at some point in
It was a Hockey Hall of Fame traveling exhibit that visited
McMorran a couple of years ago that helped propel the local women
into the sights of the Hall of Fame.
Bellow, who visited the exhibit at McMorran, chatted with the
Hall of Fame representative who was present. She told him about her
experience playing in an all-women’s league in the early 1960s. When
the Hall representative asked if she had any of her original equipment,
she told him, yes.
“I still had my jersey,” she said. “I hadn’t figured out what to do with
Shortly thereafter, the Hall of Fame sent a representative to Port
Huron to pick up the jersey from her.
“He put on white gloves to take it from me,” she said. “He told me
they freeze it and clean it and then freeze it again, and then they display
it in an air-tight display case.”
According to Bellow, the women’s hockey league began in 1964 and
was established with four teams sponsored by Citizens Federal Bank,
Mary Maxim, Seely’s De-Icers, and Port Huron Realty.
McMorran’s Main Arena, which was opened in 1962, served as
home for the league. All four teams were coached by women, most of
whom were mothers of some of the players.
“We played scrimmages against ourselves,” said Bellow, “and then we
traveled to Canada. We played in Petrolia and Sarnia.”
Both Ruttan and Bellow noted that playing any kind of organized
sport was a treat for the teenaged girls, since many schools did not offer
women’s athletics at the time, other than cheerleading.
“I was always in the car with my brother and his team, going to
Canada, going to play hockey,” said Ruttan. “And I was playing in the
neighborhood all the time, but I just couldn’t play with the boys on
Nancy Morauski of Lexington also played in the league.
“We always made an ice pond every year and all the neighborhood
kids played,” she said. “We would take magazines and catalogs and
tape them on for shin guards. One of the neighborhood adults gave us
some hockey equipment, and he gave me a pair of used shin guards.
“We were thrilled that this league was something that would give us
a chance to play on our own.”
Ruttan noted that many of the girls who played had figure skates,
but in order to use them in the league, they had to have the toe picks
Bellow was thirsty for the opportunity to play organized sports.
“I was a tomboy,” she said. “I like sports and any sport I could get
into. I did track and cheerleading, and I went on to be a golfer. But our
choices were definitely limited.”
Bellow and the others noted that the league was fiercely competitive.
“The teams were split up pretty good, so the competition was fun,”
said Morauski. “We never discouraged anybody that never played
before or didn’t know what they were doing. Everybody tried to help
them develop their skills.”
Ruttan agreed: “It was fierce, those girls were into it every Saturday.”
One of the last scenes in the baseball movie, “A League of Their
Own” plays out at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New
York, on the day the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
was inducted into the Hall of Fame. The characters in the movie,
many of whom were based on real-life players, note that they didn’t
expect this accolade. They played because they loved the game.
Morauski expressed a similar sentiment regarding the McMorran
all-girls hockey league, and the fact that they were on the forefront of
“We never thought about it at that time,” she said. “I guess at that
age, you didn’t think there wasn’t anything you couldn’t do because
growing up in the city, we all just played together, the boys and the
During the summer months, of 2020, members of the all-girls
league gathered together to share photos and newspaper clippings.
They have been in touch recently with the Hockey Hall of Fame in
Toronto, which has extended a VIP invitation for them to visit as
special guests just as soon as the U.S. – Canadian border opens up
“I think that’s super,” said Ruttan. “Absolutely we’re going.”
Bellow, whose jersey is already in the hands of the Hall, is excited
about taking a trip to Canada, as well.
Morauski said: “I know my son and my grandkids will go, and
my daughter and her family will go, for sure. That’s a big part of our
“I think it’s great; it’s fantastic. I’m so happy. I wish they would
recognize us here, but I’ll take it over in Canada. We used to whoop
their teams pretty good.”
She shoots, she scores!
28 FALL 2020 BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM
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