Editor's note: Prior to Harbor Springs City Council elections, we offer readers an opportunity to get to know candidates through a series questions and written responses published here. This year, there are four candidates vying for two, two-year terms on Harbor Springs City Council (five candidates will appear on the ballot; Trisha Witty has, however, resigned from the race). John Cupps, who was appointed to fill the remained of Mick Heinz's term, is the only incumbent running. Cecelia Johnston, Jeff James and Chris Baughman are also running for election. The election will take place Tuesday, Nov. 5 in the city of Harbor Springs. Polls are open from 7am to 8pm at City Hall. Results from Tuesday's election will be too late for the print edition of this newspaper but will be posted on www.harborlightnews.com.
How long have you lived in Harbor Springs (city limits/in area)?
I have lived in Harbor Springs my entire life (32 years) with the exception of a six month stretch where I lived in Wexford County and worked in Traverse City in 2007. I lived in the city limits from 1981-2000 and returned in 2010.
I have worked in several area restaurants including 10 years at Juilleret's and two years at the Pier Restaurant.
Graduated Top Ten Harbor Springs High School-1999; Associate of General Studies-North Central Michigan College-2012; Certificate of Development, Office Support Specialist-North Central Michigan College-2012; Associate of Arts, Hospitality Management-Restaurant Operations-American Public University-ongoing
Why are seeking a seat on the city council (or reelection)?
I love this community and I want to do my part to serve it. There are many challenges ahead for this town in the years to come and I'd like to be a part of building and revamping this town
For the past several years, Harbor Springs has been talking about how to best revitalize, protect, and preserve the city. What are your ideas about how to best accomplish this?
I think we need to talk to the citizens and get their opinions on these matters. I've noticed very low public participation in the recent months while I've been familiarizing myself with the council and their operations. Public input is paramount to turning this town around.
When you think about the next two years in Harbor Springs, what key issues or areas of concern pop up in your mind?
The waterfront project, for certain. This needs to be done carefully and strategically. We can't have any kind of construction in that area during peak season. It would take business from this town if our guests cannot enjoy those areas. We need to find activities for our younger people to participate in. There is very little to do in this town for the youth. We also need to hold more events in the off-season to generate business for our merchants. This town essentially dies in October. There are very few events held after color tour, and our merchants need all the help they can get when school is in session.
What do you consider to be some of the most important issues facing our region, not just the city?
Again, we need to find ways to get money into our economy when our tourists aren't here. Small events such as basketball tournaments or tennis tournaments could bring hundreds of people into our region during the spring and fall months. Look at how well Petoskey does with their soccer tournaments.
There is also a major environmental concern in the Straits of Mackinac. In July, the National Wildlife Fund sponsored a diving expedition to inspect an oil pipeline running between the Upper and Lower Peninsula's. It was found to be in horrible disrepair. Pipes are terribly rusted and supports have crumbled in the 60 years it has been there. The owners of the pipeline have found a way to bypass inspections and plan to increase the pressure in these pipes in the coming months, which could cause a spill that would have devastating effects on not only our region, but our Nation as well. Those interested can read the story at http://ecowatch.com/2013/10/15/footage-of-tar-sands-pipelines-beneath-great-lakes/. There are videos and maps which document the damage and show damage estimates for an oil spill from this pipeline. Just as they discussed last night (10/21/2013) on Asian Carp, I would implore our current City Council to visit this issue immediately.
If you are elected, what are some of your short and long term goals as a city council member?
Anything I can do for this city is what I want to do. I think that I can help this city turn itself around and regain the prominence it once had. To do this, we may have to change some things. I do not believe in sudden changes, with no evidence that a particular action will work. Gradual change is what needs to happen. We are a very close, tight knit community and we don't want any of our citizens, or anybody who vacations or does business here to feel alienated.
I think that we need to get more input from our merchants. They are the reason this town is still alive. Their needs are very important and need to be met to the best of our abilities. I'd really like to help find ways to increase our off-season tourism as well as potentially stimulate some job growth in this town. While we absolutely need our tourists, this town survives because of it's business from our citizens. Any job growth would be beneficial to everybody in this town.
What else do you want voters to know about you and your philosophies toward city governance?
I think I've visited this in my other responses. I have made no decisions as of yet. I'm open to a dialogue about most issues that face this town. It's up to the people to decide what they want, and I think that our local government needs to seek out these opinions more effectively.