Blue Water Woman--Fall 2020--PJS Promo

Blue Water Woman Magazine is the premiere publication for women living, working and playing in the Blue Water Area of Michigan, also known as the Thumb Coast of Michigan.

Blue Water Woman Magazine is the premiere publication for women living, working and playing in the Blue Water Area of Michigan, also known as the Thumb Coast of Michigan.

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big picture vision<br />

FALL <strong>2020</strong>

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<strong>Blue</strong> <strong>Water</strong> <strong>Woman</strong> is published quarterly by The Write Company,<br />

511 La Salle Blvd., Port Huron, MI 48060. Circulation 5,000.<br />

Editor & Publisher:<br />

Patti Samar, owner, The Write Company<br />

Advertising, questions, comments or story ideas:<br />

Email Patti Samar at pjsamar@aol.com<br />

Mission:<br />

<strong>Blue</strong> <strong>Water</strong> <strong>Woman</strong> is the premiere publication<br />

for women living, working and playing<br />

in the <strong>Blue</strong> <strong>Water</strong> Area of Michigan.<br />

Its stories and features are written and designed<br />

to be inspriational, motivational and encouraging.<br />

www.<strong>Blue</strong><strong>Water</strong><strong>Woman</strong>.com<br />

© <strong>Blue</strong> <strong>Water</strong> <strong>Woman</strong> is the property<br />

of Patti Samar of The Write Company<br />

The Write Company is a writing, graphic design<br />

and marketing consultation firm.<br />

View our online portfolio at: www.TheWriteCompany.net<br />



IT WORKS!<br />


The ad deadline for the next issue<br />

of <strong>Blue</strong> <strong>Water</strong> <strong>Woman</strong> is December 1, <strong>2020</strong>.<br />

Prices:<br />

Business Card Ad: $125/issue<br />

Quarter Page: $250/issue<br />

Half Page: $500/issue<br />

Full Page: $1,000/issue<br />

Advertorial: $1,500/issue<br />


3 From the Editor<br />

4 Jorja Baldwin<br />

8 Caryn VanderHeuvel<br />

12 Debra McNair<br />

16 Stephanie Armstrong-Helton<br />

20 Lisa Beedon<br />

22-23 <strong>Blue</strong> <strong>Water</strong> <strong>Woman</strong> of the Year<br />

24 Kimberly Bizon<br />

26 Hockey Hall of Famers<br />

For more information, contact Patti Samar<br />

at 810-300-2176 or email her at pjsamar@aol.com<br />

www.TheWriteCompany.net<br />

2 FALL <strong>2020</strong> BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM




Editor’s Note: Part of this “From the Editor” column originally ran in the Spring <strong>2020</strong><br />

Tissue, but it is being repeated here, in light of the national election, as it explains precisely why<br />

more women should be elected into office.<br />

This year, more women will likely run for elected public office than ever before.<br />

“What difference does it make whether or not there are women in office?” some<br />

people ask.<br />

It has been proven that men and women approach problem solving in different ways.<br />

It doesn’t mean one is better than the other, but it does mean that a greater gender<br />

balance in elected public office could possibly create an even greater problem solving<br />

ability in capitals across the nation.<br />

One local example:<br />

When Pamela Wall of Algonac was an elected official on the St. Clair County Board<br />

of Commissioners in the 2000s, the county board was busy negotiating healthcare<br />

contracts for its employees. Rising healthcare costs had commissioners looking for<br />

various ways in which to save money.<br />

There was a line item in the contract that specifically outlined the cost of<br />

including birth control pill coverage for female employees and their eligible<br />

family members. At the time, many insurance companies provided that coverage<br />

as an additional rider to the basic healthcare package.<br />

Wall’s counterparts on the county board – all men – discussed eliminating<br />

birth control pill coverage as a cost saving measure. Wall objected, and dug a<br />

little deeper into drug costs as a whole for county employees. She asked for, and<br />

obtained, a list of all of the prescription drugs, and their associated costs, that<br />

had been paid for by the county in the previous year.<br />

The number one drug cost to St. Clair County?<br />

Viagra.<br />

That’s right. The little blue pill that helps men with erectile dysfunction. The<br />

county was paying more for Viagra than for birth control pills.<br />

When she brought that information to her next meeting, the board very<br />

readily determined that maybe keeping the birth control pill coverage was not<br />

such a bad idea after all.<br />

This is why it is important for women to serve in public office. As a female,<br />

Wall knew how important birth control pills are to women. She acknowledged<br />

that her male counterparts were not trying to be discriminatory toward women,<br />

but they didn’t think about the birth control pill issue the way a woman would.<br />

Without Wall’s presence on the board that year, birth control pill coverage for<br />

employees would have ended at that point in time.<br />

As I edit this issue of the magazine, voting has already begun via absentee ballot. In<br />

this issue, I am featuring a number of women in our community who deserve to serve<br />

in public office. There are Democrats, Republicans and nonpartisan candidates featured<br />

here. Each of them has an interesting and unique perspective on life and the many<br />

reasons why it is important for women to hold public office.<br />

And, don’t forget to read all the way toward the back of the magazine where I’ve saved<br />

the best for last: a story about a group of trailblazing women who played in one of the<br />

first-known all-female hockey leagues in the United States. Some of their equipment<br />

was recently procured by the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Yup,<br />

“the” Hockey Hall of Fame. Air horn cheers for all of them.<br />

It is important to celebrate trailblazing women. It is important to elect women into<br />

office so we have a seat at the decision-making table. It is important to listen to women’s<br />

voices. They matter. They change the world for the better every single day.<br />

Peace,<br />

Patti Samar<br />

Editor & Publisher<br />

<strong>Blue</strong> <strong>Water</strong> <strong>Woman</strong><br />

FALL <strong>2020</strong> BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 3



vision<br />


IIf there is a local candidate running for office this year who<br />

understands the value of each and every vote, it is Jorja Baldwin.<br />

The former Fort Gratiot Township supervisor won her very first<br />

election, a primary, in 2012, by just 86 votes.<br />

That win launched Baldwin into the supervisor’s chair where she sat<br />

until, in 2019, she applied for and was appointed to an open seat on<br />

the St. Clair County Board of Commissioners.<br />

In November, Baldwin is seeking re-election to that seat on the<br />

county board, where she represents District 2, which covers the<br />

precincts 1, 2 and 3 in the city of Port Huron, along with the<br />

townships of Burtchville and Fort Gratiot. She is running as a<br />

Republican, and she is unopposed.<br />

FALL <strong>2020</strong> BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 5

Making a Positive Impact<br />

During her seven years as supervisor in Fort Gratiot Township,<br />

Baldwin more than left her mark on the community, having<br />

moved forward with the construction of a new township office<br />

center, the expansion of recreation areas, including one of the few<br />

dog parks in the county, and an assortment of other municipal<br />

projects.<br />

Baldwin began making a positive impact on Fort Gratiot<br />

Township, however, long before she became supervisor. She<br />

began working for the township in 1995 through a high school<br />

co-op program.<br />

“I worked as the building department clerk,” she said. In a short<br />

period of time, she moved on to assignments in assessing and<br />

zoning ordinances. She quickly realized it would benefit her, and<br />

the community, to know more about the construction process, so<br />

within a year she had obtained her builder’s license.<br />

“I wanted to know, ‘Does this require a two-penny nail?’” she<br />

said. She also realized holding that license would help her earn<br />

credibility both within the office and within the community. To<br />

this day, she maintains her assessing certification.<br />

During her more than 20 year tenure at the township, Baldwin<br />

learned that if something needed to be done, she needed to roll<br />

up her sleeves and learn how to do it.<br />

“You wear a lot of hats,” she said. “If there was a need, I filled<br />

it.”<br />

Her favorite part of working within government revolves<br />

around zoning.<br />

“<br />

I realized if I ever wanted to effect some<br />

kind of change that will help the next<br />

building official or zoning official, then<br />

I need to go to the next level.<br />

The question becomes, ‘How do you get a<br />

”<br />

township or city’s voice to the state level?’<br />

6 FALL <strong>2020</strong> BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM

“It is the basis for the quality of life in a community,” she said. “It<br />

is the playbook for good in a community.”<br />

Big Picture Vision<br />

When the opportunity to apply for a seat on the county<br />

commission arose, Baldwin decided to apply for a number of<br />

reasons.<br />

“I had started to get frustrated with things I had no control over,”<br />

she said of her role as supervisor at the township. “I realized if I<br />

ever wanted to effect some kind of change that will help the next<br />

building official or zoning official, then I need to go to the next<br />

level. The question becomes, ‘How do you get a township or city’s<br />

voice to the state level?’<br />

“I feel like I wanted to be at a different level of government to<br />

affect that change.<br />

“I felt like I’d peaked and this was a next good step to expand my<br />

network. County government is focused mostly on revenue and<br />

economic development. I felt that was a natural next step.”<br />

Baldwin also understands that becoming a a true leader and not<br />

just a politician means that politics actually need to be put aside so<br />

the big picture can be better viewed.<br />

“A lot of people get into politics due to one issue,” she said. “If you<br />

can’t move past that issue, you’re never going to work as a team, and<br />

if you can’t work as a team, you’re not going to get anything done.<br />

“You learn that every relationship is about compromise.”<br />

Women in Office<br />

Baldwin encourages women who are interested in running for<br />

office to move forward and do so.<br />

“Sometimes women can be our own worst enemies with<br />

overanalyzing everything,” she said. “I think you should just do it.<br />

If you have a desire to serve, you should find a way to do it.”<br />

She also noted that women sometimes face situations that men<br />

do not, whether in public office, or just in the workplace, in<br />

general.<br />

“My mom always says to me, ‘You have a family to raise,’ and<br />

nobody says that to a man,” she said. “I have an equal partner in<br />

my husband, Scott. When I am at a meeting at night, people will<br />

ask me, ‘Where’s Scott? Who’s with the kids?’ People do not run<br />

into my husband and ask about his kids.”<br />

All that said, she noted that it is important for women to take a<br />

seat at the table.<br />

“Women, in general, can bring a different perspective,” she said.<br />

“We do see things differently, in general, and there’s a lot of good<br />

in that. You need that diversity to represent the whole.”<br />

Baldwin said things have changed a lot since she began working<br />

for Fort Gratiot Township more than 20 years ago.<br />

“I’m not the only girl in the room anymore, and I’m finding<br />

some allies with the men in the room,” she said. “We have some<br />

really impressive role models in women in St. Clair County and<br />

that is something to be very proud of.”<br />

Jessica McLarty, VP, Business Loan Officer; Jennifer Briolat, Branch Manager, Lakeport; Amanda Rose, Branch Manager, Marysville;<br />

Emily Dehring, Branch Manager, Fort Gratiot; Kim Bowman, VP, Retail Banking Manager;<br />

Christi Agostino-Erd, Mortgage Loan Officer; Kathy Wurmlinger, VP, Mortgage Manager<br />

S<br />

top by a branch today and let us<br />

help you get into the driver's seat!<br />

Call or visit one of these<br />

convenient St. Clair County<br />

locations today:<br />

• 85% of our staff are women<br />

• 67% of our bank officers are women<br />

• 50% of our senior management are women<br />

• 4 of our 9 directors are women<br />

Member<br />

FDIC<br />

Fort Gratiot - 810.966.2281<br />

Lakeport - 810.385.3211<br />

Marysville - 810.364.4854<br />

Port Huron - 810.987.9777<br />

www.emb.bank<br />

FALL <strong>2020</strong> BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 7


8 FALL <strong>2020</strong> BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM

MAKING<br />

fair decisions<br />


P<br />

“Politics is personal. Elections are about people.”<br />

-- David Greene, Journalist<br />

Friend of Court Attorney Referee Caryn VanderHeuvel<br />

understands how personally the outcomes of court cases affect families<br />

in St. Clair County. Every day in her work, she makes decisions<br />

that affect people’s lives in a myriad of ways, and she doesn’t take<br />

that responsibility lightly. Better than most, she understands the<br />

importance of having an experienced, compassionate and, most of all,<br />

fair judge behind the bench.<br />

That commitment and dedication to ensuring that citizens in St.<br />

Clair County are treated with respect and fairness in the courtroom<br />

were driving forces behind VanderHeuvel’s decision to run for St.<br />

Clair County 72nd District Court Judge.<br />

A Port Huron native, VanderHeuvel decided to run in 2019, when<br />

she knew that District Judge Cynthia Platzer’s term was ending and<br />

Platzer had indicated that she was not planning to run for re-election.<br />

Platzer then ended up retiring a year early, thus leaving a then-open<br />

seat on the bench.<br />

“About a year and a half ago, some friends who are attorneys<br />

came to me and said, ‘We heard that Judge Platzer is talking about<br />

retiring and not running again and we really could use somebody<br />

with your temperament and your world view in the District Court,’”<br />

VanderHeuvel said.<br />

After some thought, and with the support of her husband and five<br />

children, she made the decision to run.<br />

“My family said, ‘Public service is what you are already doing<br />

working with these clients and their everyday issues, and this is just<br />

another step,’ so here we are,” she said, recalling her family’s response.<br />

While new to running for public office, VanderHeuvel brings<br />

plenty of legal experience into the race.<br />

Her Juris Doctor degree is from the University Of Detroit School<br />

of Law, where she graduated with honors, in 1997. She went on<br />

to practice as an attorney focusing on family law. She also spent<br />

more than 10 years as Research Attorney and Law Clerk for St. Clair<br />

County’s 31st Circuit Court, working closely with now-retired Judge<br />

Peter Deegan until 2010 when she moved into her position at the<br />

Friend of Court.<br />

It is with that strong base of legal knowledge and experience that<br />

she hopes to add common sense, compassion, humanity and, most of<br />

all, fairness, as a District Court judge. She noted that Friend of Court<br />

matters revolve around family legal issues and it is not unusual for the<br />

same population to end up in District Court.<br />

“We see a lot of the same people in the Friend of Court that we<br />

do in District Court,” she explained. “I see them in Friend of Court<br />

because they may be struggling with financial issues, child support or<br />

parenting custody issues. A lot of those same families are struggling<br />

with criminal issues, landlord- tenant issues, and small claims issues.<br />

The skills that I’ve built in Friend of Court trying to resolve those<br />

issues, I think, really transitions well into District Court.”<br />

VanderHeuvel believes that a judge in that position needs to be<br />

creative in dealing with the people who would come before the bench.<br />

“You need to have a judge in District Court who is willing to<br />

look beyond the one solution of incarceration,” she explained.<br />

“Throwing people in jail is not what’s going to be best for individuals<br />

or for the community. These are not hardcore felons that we are<br />

going to incarcerate for 20 years. These are our neighbors and our<br />

family members. We need to consider all the options in regard to<br />

rehabilitation. That’s something that, as a Friend of Court referee<br />

when I’m resolving family issues, I have to consider all the options.”<br />

FALL <strong>2020</strong> BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 9

VanderHeuvel is running against former St. Clair County Assistant<br />

Prosecuting Attorney Mona Armstrong. When Judge Platzer retired<br />

early, Armstrong was appointed to the District Court position. While<br />

Armstrong is considered the incumbent, VanderHeuvel points out that<br />

should not hold much weight for voters in this instance.<br />

“The incumbent in this case was not elected, and she has never<br />

been elected; she ran for a bench 10 years ago and was defeated,”<br />

VanderHeuvel pointed out. “Even though she was appointed in<br />

March, the courts were closed until June, so at the time of the election,<br />

she will only have four to five months experience in the job. The<br />

citizens of St. Clair County should vote to choose their District Court<br />

Judge.”<br />

Beyond that, however, VanderHeuvel also noted the differences in<br />

their legal experience.<br />

“I have a great amount of respect for my opponent,” she said, “but<br />

I think we have a very different approach to the law and how cases in<br />

District Court should be handled. When you work as a prosecutor,<br />

you have one job and that is presenting evidence to obtain a conviction<br />

and then argue for maximum incarceration.<br />

“When you are a judge, you have to see both sides. You have to take<br />

a look at the bigger picture and you have to understand that these are<br />

real people who live in our community, who will be returning to our<br />

community, who are going to live next door to you and work where<br />

you work. You have to get creative, you have to address the underlying<br />

issue, not just behavior, but how do we help them get through this<br />

and become a productive member of society again. Incarceration can’t<br />

always be the answer.”<br />

The issues aside, campaigning for public office in this year of a<br />

pandemic has been a different challenge that all candidates, including<br />

VanderHeuvel, have had to deal with. Her campaign planning began<br />

“<br />

The incumbent in this case<br />

was not elected,<br />

and she has never been elected;<br />

she ran for a bench 10 years ago<br />

and was defeated.<br />

The citizens of St. Clair County<br />

should vote to choose<br />

”<br />

their District Court Judge.<br />

Get Treated, Not Seated<br />

Compassionate emERgency care,<br />

because minutes always matter.<br />

10 FALL <strong>2020</strong> BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM

in July of 2019, and she and her team laid out a scenario where they<br />

would participate in parades, community activities, and fundraising<br />

events, handing out T-shirts and other campaign material. That entire<br />

plan all unraveled in this unparalleled election year.<br />

“One by one, things got cancelled and postponed and it’s given all<br />

candidates far fewer opportunities to connect with people,” she said.<br />

Without a playbook to follow for this type of campaign interruption,<br />

they got creative in how they would approach a public campaign<br />

which would feature very little personal interaction with the public.<br />

“We are doing neighborhood canvassing called literature drops,” she<br />

explained. “It used to be called door-to-door, but we are doing very<br />

little door knocking. We are just dropping off my literature. If people<br />

are outside, we do strike up a conversation, but with proper distancing,<br />

and people have been very welcoming. I think it shows people that<br />

I’m connected to the community and I’m willing to get out and meet<br />

people and to put in the time and the effort.”<br />

With the finish line in sight of what has been a more than a year long<br />

journey, VanderHeuvel remains committed to working the process and<br />

delivering the message despite this year’s campaign challenges.<br />

“What it’s really done is it has forced us to be laser focused on what<br />

we can do,” she said. “This is what we are going to focus on to do it to<br />

the best of our ability.”<br />

That focus continues to be on the message that there are differences<br />

that a judge with her experience and background can bring to the<br />

District Court with an opportunity to resolve issues focusing keenly on<br />

the people before her court.<br />

“There is no cookie cutter solution in family law, and in District<br />

Court, I don’t think there should be either,” VanderHeuvel said. “You<br />

have to look at the people in front of you, the facts of the case and try<br />

and craft a solution for each case.”<br />

“<br />

There is no cookie cutter solution<br />

in family law, and in District Court,<br />

I don’t think there should be, either.<br />

You have to look at the people in front<br />

of you, the facts of the case, and try<br />

”<br />

and craft a solution for each case.<br />

FALL <strong>2020</strong> BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 11


12 FALL <strong>2020</strong> BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM

A VOICE<br />

of change<br />


Debra McNair wants to be a voice of change.<br />

McNair, a Port Huron native who retired after working at DTE for 29<br />

years, is running for a seat on the Port Huron Schools board of trustees.<br />

If elected, she would be one of no more than a handful of black people<br />

who have served in the history of the school board.<br />

“I am running because I can be a voice of change and can help with<br />

diversity of thought,” said McNair, who attended Cleveland Elementary<br />

School, Central Middle School and Port Huron High School, graduating<br />

in 1972. “I am a product of this school system, and I saw the good, the<br />

bad and the ugly with regard to diversity.”<br />

FALL <strong>2020</strong> BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 13

McNair, who remembers students walking out of class in protest of<br />

racism while she was in high school in the late 1960s and early 1970s,<br />

said she decided to run for the school board after the death of George<br />

Floyd in Minneapolis ignited racial protests nationwide.<br />

“When Trayvon Martin died in 2012, we had a small protest and we<br />

asked people to open their eyes to what was going on here.<br />

“And then George Floyd died, and it just kind of re-ignited all of that<br />

for me.<br />

“It inspired me to move outside of my walls. They say, ‘Somebody<br />

can do it…well, that somebody is you.’ I’ve always been a person who<br />

always tried to help and make a difference.”<br />

McNair’s resume is long and impressive. She attended St. Clair<br />

County Community College, where she majored in psychology. She<br />

later attended Ashland Theological Seminary and received a master<br />

of arts degree in Practical Ministry. She is a licensed and ordained<br />

minister and continues to serve on the Ministerial Board at Restoration<br />

Christian Community Church in Port Huron.<br />

During her 29 year career at DTE, McNair worked in a variety<br />

of positions, ending her career as a supervisor overseeing corporate<br />

security and investigations. She also worked as a diversity facilitator,<br />

where she designed and taught programs to employees throughout all<br />

facets of the company.<br />

McNair believes her understanding of racial issues, and her<br />

experience teaching herself and others about issues surrounding<br />

“<br />

They say, ‘Somebody can do it...<br />

well, that somebody is you.’<br />

I’ve always been a person who<br />

always tried to help and make<br />

a difference.<br />

”<br />

“We are your out-sourced Marketing Department.”<br />




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diversity, can be of great benefit to the school board.<br />

“When I was at DTE working as a diversity facilitator, it helped me<br />

to understand diversity of thought,” she said. “The reward for me was<br />

to see people evolve and begin to understand diversity…when they<br />

said to me, ‘I didn’t know that…’”<br />

McNair found that experience especially satisfying after having begun<br />

her career at DTE as a black woman working in a male-dominated<br />

field.<br />

“I was the first black woman that worked at Detroit Edison<br />

that worked in a non-traditional job, and those guys made my life<br />

miserable,” she said of her early days with the company.<br />

“You have a double-whammy when you’re a black woman,” she<br />

said, noting that, in addition to race, gender also played a role in the<br />

discrimination she faced at work.<br />

Years later, she watched her daughter, a 1994 graduate of Port Huron<br />

High School, face similar discrimination at school when she was the<br />

first black person elected as class president.<br />

“They did a recount on the ballots because no black person had<br />

ever won before,” she said. “So I helped her deal with all of that. But<br />

it helped because it opened a new door. From that year on, black<br />

students started running for that seat because they had seen that it<br />

could be done.”<br />

And McNair’s daughter? Today she is an attorney.<br />

McNair decided to run for office because, she knew, that just like<br />

when her daughter ran for class president, not only might she be able to<br />

provide a voice of diversity at the table, but she knows others might be<br />

inspired by watching her run, too.<br />

“I’ve seen all of that and I’ve experienced the racism and the<br />

segregation,” she said. “It’s time to put this baby to bed. It’s time for<br />

inclusion and it’s time to stop marginalizing people. We need to put our<br />

differences aside.<br />

“I think <strong>2020</strong> means perfect vision,” she said. “This has been a year<br />

for people to open their eyes and see things clearly. I may not change<br />

the world, but if I can change somebody in the next generation or the<br />

school system in the way they see things, it is worth doing.<br />

“I want to bring a passion and hope to the school board. Let’s make a<br />

difference in some people’s lives. I do think we’re on the cusp of change.<br />

The millennials have a whole different concept of how this world<br />

should be.<br />

“You don’t have to re-invent the wheel, we just need to ask how to<br />

make the world better for everyone? How can we make a difference in<br />

the lives of other people?<br />

“I want to be a voice and help make a difference. You’ve got to go<br />

where you’ve never been, and you’ve got to do what you’ve never done.”<br />

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FALL <strong>2020</strong> BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 15


16 FALL <strong>2020</strong> BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM

READY<br />

to take the wheel<br />


SStephanie Armstrong-Helton is kind of a policy wonk.<br />

The Democratic candidate for the Michigan House of<br />

Representatives 83rd District, which serves Sanilac County,<br />

Burtchville Township, Fort Gratiot Township and the city of Port<br />

Huron, has spent a career of 30-plus years working in marketing,<br />

communications and governmental advocacy. She currently works<br />

as a Communications and Grassroots Advocacy manager for Trinity<br />

Health, based in Troy.<br />

A graduate of Port Huron Northern High School, St. Clair County<br />

Community College and the University of Detroit, Helton resides in<br />

Fort Gratiot with her husband of 29 years.<br />

“I have a lot to offer given my healthcare and political advocacy<br />

background,” said Helton. “We have the opportunity to build healthy<br />

communities and a healthy economy. They are not separate.”<br />

Helton is running against political newcomer, Republican Andrew<br />

Beeler, 28, of Port Huron.<br />

“You want someone in this position who has life experiences and<br />

who will work 150 percent for the community,” said Helton. “I<br />

would want a representative who has vast life experiences, especially<br />

during this time of life challenges, and someone who can pull from a<br />

variety of life experiences when enacting policy.<br />

“I’m the only person in this race who has that kind of experience.<br />

I know how a bill becomes a law. I’ve helped write policy and I’ve<br />

worked across the aisle.”<br />

Helton has long been involved in local politics, and not only<br />

through her job. She has held positions on the board of the St. Clair<br />

County Democratic Party, and she has worked for and volunteered for<br />

numerous local campaigns.<br />

Sounding almost surprised to be a candidate for office, Helton<br />

laughed and said: “I’m not really a politician, I’m not going to wear<br />

the suit and I’m not going to do the glad-handing. But when it comes<br />

right down to it, politicians are just regular people who want to help<br />

other people. And you can work together to accomplish things.<br />

“Politics doesn’t have to be divisive. It’s clear, as humans, we have a lot<br />

of commonalities.”<br />

In terms of the issues facing the residents of the 83rd District, Helton<br />

noted that economic development, which can lead to an increase in<br />

jobs across the community, is important, as is the environment, since<br />

the district sits on the shores of the Great Lakes.<br />

“Jobs are a big one,” she said. “We’re a service industry community,<br />

and we’re a farming and agricultural community. We need to look at<br />

diversifying what we do here. It’s so beautiful here. I still can’t believe we<br />

FALL <strong>2020</strong> BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 17

are largely undiscovered.<br />

“We need to ask ourselves, ‘How can we look outside of the box and<br />

look at the beauty of our community and build on our quality of life<br />

and boost our economy at the same time?’”<br />

Through her work for Trinity Health, a faith-based organization that<br />

resonates with her deep Catholic faith, Helton has worked extensively<br />

on advocacy of healthcare-related issues. She believes the Affordable<br />

Care Act (ACA) is a good example of the way that once laws are<br />

enacted, they can actually be growing and evolving entities.<br />

“The Affordable Care Act was well thought out, but it needs to be<br />

revamped,” she said. “There’s more that can be done to improve it.<br />

“These things evolve when a policy is enacted. It’s not perfect, but it’s<br />

incremental success. You never hit a home run out of the gate. Policy<br />

making is a long term endeavor. People think, well, nothing gets done<br />

in Washington or Lansing and that is just not true. It takes time.<br />

“I’ve stood in Washington and in Lansing during the debate and<br />

passage and failures of policy.”<br />

Helton noted that she ran for office once, 36 years ago.<br />

“I ran for secretary for student government at SC4 in 1984 and I<br />

won,” she said. “That was my last victory.<br />

“There are so many things on the line right now, I believe we need<br />

someone in Lansing with proven policy-making experience and<br />

successful relationships across the aisle. I think voters want someone<br />

who is well-rounded and who can approach the work from a mature<br />

standpoint.”<br />

Making a reference to her opponent’s youth and lack of political and<br />

life experience, Helton said: “Now is not the time to hand the keys to<br />

the kids. It’s time for Mom to take the wheel. I’m that mom.”<br />

“<br />

Voters want someone who is well-rounded<br />

and who can approach the work from a<br />

mature standpoint.<br />

Now is not the time to hand the keys<br />

to the kids.<br />

It’s time for Mom to take the wheel.<br />

I’m that mom.<br />

”<br />

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18 FALL <strong>2020</strong> BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM

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20 FALL <strong>2020</strong> BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM


in<br />


You could call Port Huron City Councilwoman Lisa Beedon of<br />

Port Huron the “unexpected politician.”<br />

“Five years ago, if you would have asked me if I was going to be in<br />

politics, I would have laughed,” she said with a laugh.<br />

After having served two years of a four-year term on the council,<br />

Beedon is setting her sights higher, as she runs, as a Democrat, for<br />

a seat on the St. Clair County Board of<br />

Commissioners serving District 3. The seat<br />

“<br />

is currently occupied by longtime County<br />

Commissioner Howard Heidemann, also<br />

a Democrat, who is retiring at the end<br />

of his current term. District 3 covers the<br />

south side of Port Huron, covering voting<br />

precincts 4 through 10.<br />

“Howard let me know he was on the<br />

fence about running again,” Beedon said<br />

of Heidemann, who encouraged her to<br />

pursue his seat. “There are not a lot of<br />

vocal Democrats in our area, and this<br />

district is the most diverse in the color<br />

of our skin, our income, our level of<br />

education.”<br />

Though she realizes, as a Democrat, she<br />

is in the minority county-wide, Beedon<br />

is drawn to the party for a number of<br />

reasons.<br />

I think, when<br />

opportunities<br />

present themselves,<br />

we need to lean into<br />

them...<br />

“It’s the social issues that push me over to that side,” she said. “I’m<br />

fiscally conservative, but I believe in equal pay, and equal rights.<br />

Wage disparity is real, and you then extrapolate that to people of<br />

color…I want to build that equality, that equity.”<br />

Beedon, who serves as the director of marketing and<br />

communications at Lake Huron Medical Center in Port<br />

Huron, has been dedicated to community service, volunteering<br />

for numerous nonprofits in the community, and business<br />

organizations, as well.<br />

After graduating from Port Huron Northern in 1998, Beedon<br />

went on to Central Michigan University, where she received a<br />

bachelor’s degree in broadcasting and cinematic arts before living<br />

in both Lansing and Arizona. While in Arizona, she obtained<br />

a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Concordia<br />

University.<br />

I want to be collaborative<br />

and make sure everyone<br />

is represented at the table.<br />

She returned to the <strong>Blue</strong> <strong>Water</strong> Area in 2009 and accepted a<br />

position with AmeriCorps, which is the state-side version of the<br />

Peace Corps. During her time with AmeriCorps, she was assigned<br />

to <strong>Blue</strong> <strong>Water</strong> Habitat for Humanity, where she served as volunteer<br />

coordinator.<br />

Those experiences helped her develop the ability to take a look at<br />

the big picture and to look at any number<br />

of issues from many different perspectives.<br />

She has applied that knowledge while<br />

serving the community in any number of<br />

ways.<br />

“When I sit on boards, I take a look<br />

around and ask, ‘Who are we missing?<br />

Whose voice is not here at the table?’” she<br />

said.<br />

A strong believer in inclusion and<br />

acceptance, Beedon ended up running<br />

for city council, initially, for a number of<br />

reasons.<br />

”“I was seeing things I don’t think are<br />

acceptable behaviors,” she said of her foray<br />

into politics. “I think, when opportunities<br />

present themselves, we need to lean into<br />

them, so that’s what I did with city council,<br />

and that’s what I’m doing with the county<br />

commission seat. I want to be collaborative<br />

and make sure everyone is represented at the table.”<br />

Currently, there is only one other woman seated on the board of<br />

commissioners. Jorja Baldwin was appointed to a seat in 2019. Prior<br />

to Baldwin’s appointment, it had been more than a decade since a<br />

woman was a member of the board.<br />

Beedon encourages other women to run for office.<br />

“I’d tell them to do it,” she said. “If they are thinking about it at<br />

all, do it. We need to be intentional. I’m completely open to talking<br />

to other women who might be interested. If I can reach out and<br />

help them, I will.”<br />

When she talks about equality and equity, Beedon references<br />

gender equity as being important to her.<br />

“Anything that we want to do as a gender, lean in,” she said. “If<br />

there’s an open seat at the table, sit in it. Sometimes we have to take<br />

intentional steps forward. Don’t tell yourself no.”<br />

FALL <strong>2020</strong> BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 21

who will be named...<br />

<strong>Blue</strong> <strong>Water</strong> <strong>Woman</strong><br />

Nominations<br />

due in<br />

mid-November!<br />

of the Year?<br />

Nominations now being accepted<br />

for <strong>Blue</strong> <strong>Water</strong> <strong>Woman</strong> of the Year!<br />

The <strong>Blue</strong> <strong>Water</strong> <strong>Woman</strong> of the Year Awards will honor women who reside in the<br />

<strong>Blue</strong> <strong>Water</strong> Area of Michigan who demonstrate excellence and achievement<br />

in one or more of the following areas:<br />

?<br />

• Volunteerism or personal achievement<br />

• Mentoring other women<br />

• Professional achievement<br />

• Overall Honor: <strong>Blue</strong> <strong>Water</strong> <strong>Woman</strong> of the Year<br />

Award Process:<br />

Nominators MUST complete the nomination form and rules available at<br />

www.<strong>Blue</strong><strong>Water</strong><strong>Woman</strong>.com<br />

Honoring the Award Recipients:<br />

Those selected for awards will be notified in early December <strong>2020</strong>.<br />

All will be featured in a story in the Spring (February) 2021 issue of the magazine.<br />

All will be honored at a public reception on January 29, 2021, pandemic permitting.<br />

Nominator Requirements:<br />

Nominators must be committed to selling a minimum of 20 adult tickets to the awards reception.<br />

Receiving an award is no fun without a cheering section!<br />

Award recipients MUST be available to attend awards ceremony; “must be present to win.”<br />

Deadline for Submissions:<br />

Submissions must be received by email or snail mail no later than<br />

Wednesday, November 18, <strong>2020</strong>.<br />

Submissions must be emailed in one zipped file to: pjsamar@aol.com.<br />

Sponsored by:<br />

<strong>Blue</strong> <strong>Water</strong> <strong>Woman</strong> reserves the right to refuse nominations for consideration without cause. All decisions are final and subject<br />

to approval by <strong>Blue</strong> <strong>Water</strong> <strong>Woman</strong>. Why? Because we said so. ;)

THE SHOW<br />

must go on<br />

If the Emmy’s and the Country Music Awards can go virtual, so can<br />

the <strong>Blue</strong> <strong>Water</strong> <strong>Woman</strong> of the Year Awards.<br />

As the year has progressed and we have begun living life much<br />

differently than we were living it less than one short year ago, I<br />

decided that, no matter what, there would be a 2021 <strong>Blue</strong> <strong>Water</strong><br />

<strong>Woman</strong> of the Year Awards program.<br />

It just might look a little differently than in the<br />

past.<br />

So here’s the straight skinny: I am continuing to<br />

chat with my friends/partners at McMorran Place,<br />

where the annual awards take place every year. We<br />

believe that, one way or another, we can pull off<br />

one heck of an awards program with or -- most<br />

likely without -- a live audience.<br />

Please help us make our 10th Annual <strong>Blue</strong> <strong>Water</strong><br />

<strong>Woman</strong> of the Year Awards one of the most<br />

successful ever, even with a new virtual format.<br />

I encourage all <strong>Blue</strong> <strong>Water</strong> <strong>Woman</strong> readers to<br />

nominate the most accomplished women they<br />

know, and we will make sure the five or six<br />

brightest and best are honored in early 2021, just like we always<br />

planned.<br />

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.<br />

The 2021 Nomination form can be found at<br />

www.<strong>Blue</strong><strong>Water</strong><strong>Woman</strong>.com/blue-water-woman-of-the-year/<br />

The deadline for nominations is November 18, <strong>2020</strong>.<br />

I look forward to reading your nominations.<br />

Sincerely,<br />


Patti Samar<br />

Editor/Publisher<br />

<strong>Blue</strong> <strong>Water</strong> <strong>Woman</strong><br />

FALL <strong>2020</strong> BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 23


24 FALL <strong>2020</strong> BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM


to win<br />


Kimberly Bizon is the face of determination.<br />

A candidate running for Michigan’s 10th Congressional District,<br />

Bizon is making her second straight run for the seat as a Democrat in<br />

a traditionally Republican district. Even though she lost in 2018 to<br />

Republican Paul Mitchell by more than 70,000 votes, she is back on the<br />

campaign trail hoping to change voter’s minds in <strong>2020</strong>.<br />

“It’s definitely an uphill battle,” Bizon acknowledged recently while<br />

discussing her campaign. “We had a lot of financial challenges in 2018<br />

and we currently have financial challenges to meet, but we have over 300<br />

volunteers mobilized to try to get the word out.”<br />

That “word” includes addressing issues such as climate change and<br />

leveraging the Congressional seat to help rejuvenate the area.<br />

“A lot of times, the representatives for District 10 go to D.C. and they<br />

don’t bring anything back home,” she said.<br />

“They are approving policy, sponsoring and<br />

co-sponsoring bills, but they are not bringing<br />

anything home to a rural area like District 10.<br />

And then especially with Paul Mitchell, he really<br />

missed the mark in not having any townhalls and<br />

not being transparent.”<br />

Bizon, a resident of Lexington who is currently<br />

on pandemic furlough from her job as an online<br />

interactive director of marketing and advertising<br />

from the Southfield-based Sussman Agency,<br />

would like to change that, starting with reaching<br />

across the aisle.<br />

“Your representative as a Democrat should be able to speak to a<br />

Republican representative, and I’m not seeing that happen,” she explained.<br />

“I think that you need to represent everybody; you might not agree, but<br />

maybe you can find some middle ground. I think I’m able to do that.”<br />

And Bizon describes her policy views in fairly simple terms.<br />

“I love progressive ideals, but I’m also a little more moderate as well,” she<br />

said. “Meaning, I try to work within the system to move the needle on<br />

climate change and to bring back jobs and a living wage and, of course,<br />

healthcare.”<br />

Bizon won the August Democratic Primary by nearly 4,000 votes over<br />

Mount Clemens’ Kelly Noland, while political newcomer Lisa McClain<br />

defeated current State Representative Shane Hernandez in the Republican<br />

primary. It is now McClain who is in Bizon’s sights for the Congressional<br />

seat campaign.<br />

“She spent $2.4 million, I believe, on her primary,” Bizon said. “She<br />

spent $1.4 million on commercials that were just attack ads. The people<br />

up here in Croswell and Lexington were really surprised, and as a whole,<br />

I think that the community believes you should say what you’re going to<br />

say, and you shouldn’t benefit from putting another person down.”<br />

Bizon expects McClain, who has described herself as a Trump<br />

Republican, will spend significantly on her campaign in the general<br />

election.<br />

“She’s going to spend another $1.2 million is what we predict, and she’s<br />

already attacking us,” Bizon said.<br />

Without similar financial resources, Bizon says her campaign will look<br />

to more creative ways to get her message across.<br />

“We have the most phenomenal people who are passionate about<br />

the things I am fighting for,” she said, “We see some weaknesses in<br />

Lisa McClain. She’s one thousand percent with President Trump, and<br />

I don’t think that message resonates well. I think that there are a lot of<br />

Republicans that are not Trump Republicans. We’re trying to be really<br />

smart about our targeting, and very resourceful about our money.”<br />

That means walking door-to-door to drop off literature, setting up<br />

phone banks, dropping off signs, using social media, and creating an<br />

analytics team for campaign study.<br />

“We feel we are ahead of it right now and we are going to continue<br />

moving forward and spend as much time and energy that everybody can<br />

give,” she said.<br />

That effort will be focused on getting her<br />

message across to voters, hoping they will look at<br />

her as the right person for the job.<br />

“I understand the 10th District,” she said. “I<br />

was raised on a farm so I can connect with the<br />

farmers and the hard work they do every day.<br />

I also come from a tourist community, so I<br />

understand the need for tourism and small-town<br />

revenue. As far as schools and opportunities and<br />

broad band, I understand the challenges they<br />

have. I’m just really for people and communities;<br />

we need some help and they need a voice, and I<br />

want to be that voice in Congress for them.”<br />

Bizon says the current Democratically-controlled House of<br />

Representatives has done a good job over the past two years, but she<br />

remains concerned that the U.S. Senate has not taken up much of the<br />

legislation passed by the House and that points to the overall divide in<br />

Washington.<br />

“I feel with the current administration, it’s shock value every week,” she<br />

said. “Instead of bringing unity to America, we find ourselves divided.<br />

Truth matters. I just want to make sure we elect the right people and we<br />

just need to educate people and remind them of our common humanity.”<br />

While she rejects the term “underdog” for her political status, Bizon<br />

is still aware that she is in an uphill struggle as a blue candidate in a red<br />

district fighting what she calls some “media bias” and also taking on a wellfunded<br />

opposition.<br />

“The seat should not be bought,” she said. “I believe in campaign reform<br />

and I believe it should be a fair playing field. But I believe the voters are<br />

smart I think they will look at the candidate and see if this is someone that<br />

can represent me. Is this someone I can talk to?”<br />

Of course, Bizon believes that someone is her and will take the race all<br />

the way to November 3rd.<br />

“I could quit,” she said. “I’m sure there are days when maybe I want to<br />

quit sometimes, but when I see a child or when I see the young children, I<br />

know I have to go to bat for them. You don’t quit on things that matter.<br />

“My heart is in the right place to represent the people, and I do believe<br />

that we are going to win. I hope people don’t get discouraged. I believe if<br />

people get out and vote I will be in Congress in January.”<br />

FALL <strong>2020</strong> BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 25


HOCKEY<br />

hall of famers<br />


Photo, from left to right: Nancy Cruickshank Badly, Lynn Charboneau Burgett, Carol Bellow, Sandy Cruickshank, Kathie McCormick, Nan Morauski,<br />

Jacki Park DeLacy, Patty Lynch, Marsha Coney-Stroh, and Brenda Mudge Ruttan<br />

26 FALL <strong>2020</strong> BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM

A<br />

“There’s no crying in baseball!”<br />

–Tom Hanks as Coach Jimmy Duggan in the women’s baseball movie, “A League of Their Own”<br />

According to Brenda Mudge Ruttan of Port Huron, there is also no crying in hockey.<br />

In the early 1960s, Ruttan used to strap on the skates and play with other neighborhood kids. “If I<br />

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.”<br />

That early lesson served Ruttan well come 1964 when she and approximately 44 other <strong>Blue</strong> <strong>Water</strong><br />

Area teenaged girls formed what is believed to be the very first women’s hockey league in the United<br />

States at McMorran Place in Port Huron.<br />

Though that original league only existed for four seasons, they are leaving their mark on the history<br />

of the game with some of their equipment and other memorabilia recently being accepted into the<br />

Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.<br />

Yup. The Hall of Fame.<br />

The jersey belonging to Carol Bellow of Port Huron, who also played in the league, has been<br />

officially accepted into the Hall of Fame archives. According to representatives from the Hall of Fame,<br />

FALL <strong>2020</strong> BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM 27

“<br />

I think it’s great; it’s fantastic.<br />

I’m so happy. I wish they would recognize us<br />

here, but I’ll take it over in Canada.<br />

”<br />

We used to whoop their teams pretty good.<br />

the jersey, which has undergone professional preservation since it was<br />

acquired by the Hall of Fame, may be included in either traveling<br />

exhibits that the Hall of Fame circulates throughout the United States<br />

and Canada, or possibly on display at the Hall itself, at some point in<br />

time.<br />

It was a Hockey Hall of Fame traveling exhibit that visited<br />

McMorran a couple of years ago that helped propel the local women<br />

into the sights of the Hall of Fame.<br />

Bellow, who visited the exhibit at McMorran, chatted with the<br />

Hall of Fame representative who was present. She told him about her<br />

experience playing in an all-women’s league in the early 1960s. When<br />

the Hall representative asked if she had any of her original equipment,<br />

she told him, yes.<br />

“I still had my jersey,” she said. “I hadn’t figured out what to do with<br />

it.”<br />

Shortly thereafter, the Hall of Fame sent a representative to Port<br />

Huron to pick up the jersey from her.<br />

“He put on white gloves to take it from me,” she said. “He told me<br />

they freeze it and clean it and then freeze it again, and then they display<br />

it in an air-tight display case.”<br />

According to Bellow, the women’s hockey league began in 1964 and<br />

was established with four teams sponsored by Citizens Federal Bank,<br />

Mary Maxim, Seely’s De-Icers, and Port Huron Realty.<br />

McMorran’s Main Arena, which was opened in 1962, served as<br />

home for the league. All four teams were coached by women, most of<br />

whom were mothers of some of the players.<br />

“We played scrimmages against ourselves,” said Bellow, “and then we<br />

traveled to Canada. We played in Petrolia and Sarnia.”<br />

Both Ruttan and Bellow noted that playing any kind of organized<br />

sport was a treat for the teenaged girls, since many schools did not offer<br />

women’s athletics at the time, other than cheerleading.<br />

“I was always in the car with my brother and his team, going to<br />

Canada, going to play hockey,” said Ruttan. “And I was playing in the<br />

neighborhood all the time, but I just couldn’t play with the boys on<br />

their team.”<br />

Nancy Morauski of Lexington also played in the league.<br />

“We always made an ice pond every year and all the neighborhood<br />

kids played,” she said. “We would take magazines and catalogs and<br />

tape them on for shin guards. One of the neighborhood adults gave us<br />

some hockey equipment, and he gave me a pair of used shin guards.<br />

“We were thrilled that this league was something that would give us<br />

a chance to play on our own.”<br />

Ruttan noted that many of the girls who played had figure skates,<br />

but in order to use them in the league, they had to have the toe picks<br />

shaved off.<br />

Bellow was thirsty for the opportunity to play organized sports.<br />

“I was a tomboy,” she said. “I like sports and any sport I could get<br />

into. I did track and cheerleading, and I went on to be a golfer. But our<br />

choices were definitely limited.”<br />

Bellow and the others noted that the league was fiercely competitive.<br />

“The teams were split up pretty good, so the competition was fun,”<br />

said Morauski. “We never discouraged anybody that never played<br />

before or didn’t know what they were doing. Everybody tried to help<br />

them develop their skills.”<br />

Ruttan agreed: “It was fierce, those girls were into it every Saturday.”<br />

One of the last scenes in the baseball movie, “A League of Their<br />

Own” plays out at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New<br />

York, on the day the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League<br />

was inducted into the Hall of Fame. The characters in the movie,<br />

many of whom were based on real-life players, note that they didn’t<br />

expect this accolade. They played because they loved the game.<br />

Morauski expressed a similar sentiment regarding the McMorran<br />

all-girls hockey league, and the fact that they were on the forefront of<br />

women’s sports.<br />

“We never thought about it at that time,” she said. “I guess at that<br />

age, you didn’t think there wasn’t anything you couldn’t do because<br />

growing up in the city, we all just played together, the boys and the<br />

girls.”<br />

During the summer months, of <strong>2020</strong>, members of the all-girls<br />

league gathered together to share photos and newspaper clippings.<br />

They have been in touch recently with the Hockey Hall of Fame in<br />

Toronto, which has extended a VIP invitation for them to visit as<br />

special guests just as soon as the U.S. – Canadian border opens up<br />

once again.<br />

“I think that’s super,” said Ruttan. “Absolutely we’re going.”<br />

Bellow, whose jersey is already in the hands of the Hall, is excited<br />

about taking a trip to Canada, as well.<br />

Morauski said: “I know my son and my grandkids will go, and<br />

my daughter and her family will go, for sure. That’s a big part of our<br />

history.<br />

“I think it’s great; it’s fantastic. I’m so happy. I wish they would<br />

recognize us here, but I’ll take it over in Canada. We used to whoop<br />

their teams pretty good.”<br />

She shoots, she scores!<br />

28 FALL <strong>2020</strong> BLUEWATERWOMAN.COM

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