Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon is not seeking reelection this fall. Cannon holds the record for longest-serving member on the Board of Trustees at 40 years.

Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon is not seeking reelection this fall. Cannon holds the record for longest-serving member on the Board of Trustees at 40 years.

Photo by Nick Powers

Bob Cannon leaves lasting legacy in government, community

By: Nick Powers | C&G Newspapers | Published May 16, 2024


CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Township Supervisor Bob Cannon, the longest-serving member on the Clinton Township Board of Trustees, will not be running in August.

Cannon spent 16 years as a trustee and 24 years as supervisor for the township. He surpassed Otto Duckwitz, who was on the board from 1898 to 1917, as the board’s longest-serving member. In 40 years, it’s hard to not leave some kind of lasting impression on a community.


In government
One accomplishment for Cannon, which took over 24 years, was making sure sewer water was not discharged into the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair. This led to a state-issued administrative consent order to end the discharges during heavy rains.

“(Public Services Director) Mary Bednar was the architect behind that,” Cannon said. “After $33 million plus, we now have a system that is in compliance with the state. We are very proud of it.”

Bednar was hired by Cannon in 2001 as a township engineer. In 2011, she moved into her current position as director of public services. Bednar was hired initially, in part, to help address the issue. She said Cannon was an advocate for making sure the river was clean.

“His role was always to make sure we were on track and doing what was right,” Bednar said. “He is a big fan of the river and always doing the right thing for the river.”

Barry Miller was hired by Cannon as a building inspector for the township in 2003. Since, Miller has worked his way to superintendent for the Building Department.

“In the polarizing political climate we’re in today, Bob’s always been pretty straight forward with being able to do what’s right for the people of the community,” Miller said.

Miller said Cannon has been supportive of his department heads.

“Not the type of person who throws people under the bus,” Miller said. “He backs his department heads. He cares about what he does, he’s been great to work for.”

“He was always willing to listen, but he also challenged us,” Bednar said.

Current Clinton Township Treasurer Paul Gieleghem has been working with Cannon since his time on the Macomb County Board of Commissioners. The two go back 20 years. He said he respects what Cannon has done for the township.

“While Bob and I haven’t always agreed on issues, there’s been a lot of attention paid to when we’ve disagreed, we’ve agreed more than we’ve disagreed,” he said.

Trustee Mike Keys and Cannon have locked horns a few times over the years. While he’s interested to see a “reinvigoration” of the supervisor position, he commended Cannon’s commitment to the township.

“I am appreciative of his efforts to improve the lives of Clinton Township residents and wish him well as he enters a new phase of life,” Keys said in a statement.


Impact beyond government
Cannon was a business teacher at Stevenson High School for 25 years while he was a trustee. He said he wouldn’t rule out returning to the profession.

“I loved teaching,” Cannon said. “I’m not discounting going back into teaching after I retire from this job.”

He also coached a variety of sports ranging from girls softball to boys track. Cannon had a background in this area, playing multiple sports at Lakeview High School and going on to play baseball at Wayne State University. Rick Bye, who was Stevenson’s football coach at the time, said Cannon was dependable and personable.

“He was really well liked and very supportive of the programs at Stevenson,” Bye said.

“As a coach with us he did a nice job,” said Robin Dilday, who was the athletic director for Utica Community Schools at the time.

Gold Star memorial

While playing baseball at Wayne State, Cannon shattered his left arm. This sidelined him from serving in Vietnam, but it didn’t prevent him from being an advocate for veterans. As supervisor, he helped bring Clinton Township a memorial for Gold Star families in 2021. The memorial is one of two in Michigan (the other is in Bay City). Karen Straffon, who works with Wreaths Across America, helped advocate to get it put in the township.

“He was very, very instrumental,” Straffon said about Cannon’s involvement. “He’s got a bench out there for his uncle who was killed in World War II. He was there from Day 1 with us. There’s no other place I could imagine it being.”

“I grew up in a Gold Star family,” Cannon said. “My uncle, who I was named after, was killed. He was (in) a bomber over Germany and was shot down. I know what it’s like to have the pain of losing someone and having the families grieve.”


‘He’ll still be active’
Though he won’t be the supervisor, Cannon said that he plans to still be involved in Clinton Township.

“Honestly, even when he retires from here, he’ll still be active,” Miller said. “He cares about the community. He cares about what’s going on.”

“I think this is a good time to reflect back,” Gieleghem said. “Bob has been with the township for a long time. That’s a huge commitment he’s made to Clinton Township. He steered the township through a few rough patches. I very much respect his long-standing service to this community.”

Former Clinton Township Treasurer Bill Sowerby worked with Cannon for 20 years and has known him longer.

“He served the Clinton Township community very well,” Sowerby said. “He was committed to keeping the Clinton Township community a great place to live. For all of his years of service he now deserves a happy retirement from public life.”

“This is a community I worked hard in, that many people have worked hard to help me in,” Cannon said. “I will continue to make sure we do the best we possibly can with our limited resources. I am not going away.”