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Candidate Interview Responses - City Council: 1st Ward

City Council – Ward 1

 

Bill Atkins - Incumbent

 

1.  Please provide any personal biography (background) information you wish to share; make sure you include how long you’ve been a resident of the City of Petoskey, information on any business background you may have, and past experience on councils, commissions, or other boards. 

 

My name is Bill Atkins. My wife Carol and I have been First Ward residents for 20 years. I’m 65 years old and retired after a distinguished 26 year career with the Michigan State Police, having served as Commanding Officer of the Petoskey State Police Post. I coordinated the 9-1-1 Center in Petoskey, the first such regional center in the nation. Currently, I serve as a Patient Assistant at the Burns Professional Building. My wife Carol and I are both active in Church, community affairs and service. Locally I am on the Petoskey City Council and running for re-election representing the 1st ward.

 

2.  Why are you running for public office in the City of Petoskey?

 

The 1st Ward has the majority of the finest amenities and assets in the city. To name just a few – the Bayfront Park, History Museum, Penn Park, Bear River mouth, Marina, Central Business District, Winter Sports Park and others. One of my prime objectives is to not let our beautiful parks become commercialized.

 

3.  Do you have a specific platform upon which you are campaigning?  If so, please explain. 

 

I have a concert about the excessive city expenditures for legal fees (over $200,000 last year) and the costly consultants used on issues that should be resolved by using city staff and local talent. We need to resist frivolous initiatives, like the backyard chickens ordinance, which was correctly repealed. I will encourage the City Administration to become a proactive partner in securing suitable development options for the former Petoskey Pointe site by providing incentives that will induce action. I will continue to protect and preserve Petoskey’s finest assets, our public parklands from commercialization.

 

4.  What do you see as the top three issues facing the City of Petoskey in the coming 1-3 years?

 

The top three issues facing the City of Petoskey in the near future are the budget constraints, former Petoskey Pointe site and following the City Charter. Due to property values being lowered – this means less property tax revenues to the City which in turn means less funds to operate city government. Belt Tightening will be required within all functions of the city operations. The City Charter puts the authority and responsibility of daily operations and personnel under the city Manager. We need to be vigilant in seeing the City Council does not get involved in the internal affairs of the City.

 

I have a 5 Point Plan for the former Petoskey Pointe site as following.

1. The City of Petoskey already has a vital interest in the site. Underground parking was a part of the original plan and there is still a need for public parking at this site. The City should show a willingness to establish mutual goals with the owner and cooperate with any further development.

 

2. The City of Petoskey and the City Council must become proactive and advocate in representing the best interest of the city taxpayers and members of the business community. Sitting on the sidelines and seeing nothing happening, is no longer an option.

 

3. The safety of the site prior to and during any development is of paramount concern and the City should have frequent site inspections.

 

4. The City should offer to assist the property owner with potential options concerning incentives to attract a quality development. Also, the City should assist in exploring Regional, State and Federal Economic Development programs available for similar projects.

 

5. Involve the Petoskey Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and its Management Board in cooperation with the property owner is developing a marketing plan and promote it nationwide. Proper development of this site has potential to be a real “Gateway to the Downtown” and the City needs to be actively involved.

 

5.  What is your vision to foster a healthy business environment in the City of Petoskey that supports existing businesses and promotes future business growth?

 

The heartbeat of any city is the business community. Petoskey has always been an attraction to shoppers, especially in the downtown. However, many changes have occurred in the recent years. Growth in the Townships surrounding Petoskey with large Box Stores, restaurants and service industries has taken a toll on the downtown. Empty storefronts are not attractive in any community. The city government and the City Council need to be more proactive in working with the business community. The city should work closely with the Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Organizations to promote quality growth within the city.

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6.  What is your assessment of the city’s infrastructure?  If improvements are needed, what areas should be the city’s priority to address?

 

The infrastructure of any city is key to an orderly plan for development. The street system is currently under a program of annual re-surfacing. At the same time the underground utilities are being upgraded. Of course, budget constraints are always part of how much can actually be done.

 

7.  What is your assessment of the city’s services?  If improvements are needed, what areas should be the city’s priority to address?

 

The City does a good job in providing leaf and brush pickup. Recycling programs are provided by Emmet County. Overall, I feel city services are adequate. In any shortcoming is would be the spring and fall trash pickup. It was shortened this year due to budget problems.

 

8.  What in your qualifications and background separates you from the other candidates and would prompt voters to elect you? 

 

In have enjoyed being on the City Council the last two years. At times some frustration occurs due to frivolous issues taking up too much time. I always try to be prepared before going to a Council meeting and find it helpful to do my research on the background of issues before us. Being prepared come from my background as an executive and for many years in a leadership role in management. That experience is invaluable when dealing with issues that arise in my position on the City Council. I have all of the qualifications and background to serve another two years on the Petoskey City Council. It would be an honor to represent the residents of the 1st Ward for another term.

 

 

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City Council – Ward 1

 

Kate Marshall

 

1.  Please provide any personal biography (background) information you wish to share; make sure you include how long you’ve been a resident of the City of Petoskey, information on any business background you may have, and past experience on councils, commissions, or other boards. 

 

I have two masters degrees, one in education and another in fine arts. I served on the Petoskey planning commission for several years.  I served five years on Petoskey's City Council representing Ward One and also served three terms as Mayor of Petoskey. My husband and I have been Petoskey residents for over thirty years and I serve on the board of our business, American Spoon Foods, Inc. founded here in Petoskey in 1982.

 

2.  Why are you running for public office in the City of Petoskey?

 

I feel a sense of responsibility to contribute.  I believe I can put my experience, knowledge and understanding of city government to work on behalf of the community that has meant so much to me.   

 

3.  Do you have a specific platform upon which you are campaigning?  If so, please explain. 

 

I don't have a specific agenda, but I believe principled leadership and civil discourse are the best means to move Petoskey forward.

 

4.  What do you see as the top three issues facing the City of Petoskey in the coming 1-3 years?

 

Declining revenues as they affect the city's budget.

Of, course... “the hole".  Specifically, the integrity of the retaining walls and future development of the site.

The challenges of maintaining our quality of life in a stagnant economy.

 

5.  What is your vision to foster a healthy business environment in the City of Petoskey that supports existing businesses and promotes future business growth?

 

The great thing is that we already have mechanisms in place to address some of these issues.  We have a Downtown Management Board.  The Downtown Design Committee provides façade grants to improve the appearance of downtown businesses. Our Downtown Coordinator serves as an ambassador for new business. Our city government, both council and planning commission, have a number of tools at their disposal to encourage and support future business growth.  A planned unit development is a prime example. But, the key to fostering a healthy business climate here in Petoskey, both historically, and in our future, is the maintenance and enhancement of the assets that have made our town a mecca for people seeking the unique quality of life available here: our waterfront, the Bear River, our historic walkable downtown and our wonderful neighborhoods.

 

6.  What is your assessment of the city’s infrastructure?  If improvements are needed, what areas should be the city’s priority to address?

 

Generally, the state of the city's infrastructure is very high.  There are constant planned improvements to streets, sidewalks, sewer system.  New wells have improved the water quality in recent years and we have new trails on the Bear River, our waterfront and around the high school campus. The capital improvement plan calls for upgrading parts of Emmet Street in the coming year.

 

 

7.  What is your assessment of the city’s services?  If improvements are needed, what areas should be the city’s priority to address.

 

The level of services here is quite high. The challenge is going to be maintaining them in this tough economy.

 

8.  What in your qualifications and background separates you from the other candidates and would prompt voters to elect you? 

 

My deep knowledge of city government acquired over many years of service. Years of involvement building a business here.   Those who have worked with me know me to be a consensus builder when facing difficult issues.  I have great respect for city staff and the members of the various boards and commissions who make our city run every day. 

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