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Candidate Interview Responses - City Council: 3rd Ward

Grant Dittmar
 
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. 
 
Roots
 
Petoskey is my hometown of 55 years. The Third Ward has been my home for 14 years. My father was VP of the Buick-Pontiac-Cadillac dealership owned by John Perry. I am the second youngest of nine siblings raised here. After graduating from PHS, I earned a BSE in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan. 
 
Downtown business owner
 
In 1978, I started an electronic watch repair operation in my basement. As the business grew, I became skilled in the intricate repair of all timepieces and opened a retail shop. I have been located downtown since 1984. Recently I was very honored to be included in Robert Swanson’s “Petoskey 100", a book on local places of interest.
 
Involvement
 
It is significant that I have attended over 100 Council meetings since 2003 --unmatched by any candidate. In 2006, I participated in the Blueprint Petoskey Charrettes, to help develop community design principles. I have been a Third Ward delegate to the City nominating conventions for seven years. I viewed and offered input on the interviews for City Manager and Public Safety Director. Since 2006, I have volunteered my time and equipment to help produce over 140 videos of City meetings for public television and Internet, because keeping everyone informed is vital to good government. In 2010, I was elected Council President at my church. Before that I served as Treasurer for 14 years. Since 1990, I have enjoyed volunteering as first-trumpet with a community band.
 
 2. Why are you running for public office in the City of Petoskey?
 
Appreciation
 
Petoskey is a wonderful place to grow up in. I am fortunate to live here and have roots here. Through the years I have become increasingly aware of local concerns and interested in local government. I believe I have good background, with a solid education, downtown business practice, and community involvement. It is my desire to serve and promote our excellent community.
 
3. Do you have a specific platform upon which you are campaigning? If so, please explain. 
 
Public inclusion
 
One of the things I feel is that people want to have their concerns heard. They want to be able to influence changes in their neighborhood and city. They do not want to be presented with a "done deal". Council needs to continue to practice these basics:
 
1. Engage in fact-based discussions.
 
2. Ensure everyone's concerns are discussed.
 
3. Promote the presentation of goals, and the pros and cons of options in the early stages of the decision making process, and revisit those as necessary.
 
Council approach
 
How the Council works with everyone is important. Council needs to be efficient and fair. I would:
 
1. Do my homework to have complete and accurate facts prior to decisions.
 
2. Pose questions to staff before the Council meetings, so the answers can be properly researched.
 
3. The City Charter says Council is non-partisan. I value and respect that, and that will be my approach.
 
4. What do you see as the top three issues facing the City of Petoskey in the coming 1-3 years?
 
Sustaining city services and infrastructure
Financial oversight is one of Council's most important roles. With recent economic challenges, my goal is to maintain the highest quality of City services, while living within our means. I will be asking the City Manager for options for balanced budgets. 
 
The City has already taken some very responsible actions across the board, including:
1. There was a 2010 citizen survey to help prioritize.
2. Library contracts with the Townships are gradually being normalized. 
3. Staff reorganizing.
4. Better linking of Township user fees with actual costs.
5. Efficient use of the City website for online credit-card payments, citizen feedback, City information, recreation registrations, and forms.
6. The change from an in-house attorney to an independent firm drastically reduced legal expenses at that time.
 
Going forward, we need to keep looking for ways to evaluate City performance and be more efficient.
 
Former Petoskey Pointe site
The situation has radically changed at the former Petoskey Pointe site. Northwestern Bank (NWB) now owns the whole block. NWB says they are looking for a private partner, and for a project that would be a credit to the area. The Brownfield deed restriction is cleared. There may be State economic incentives. A Tax-Increment Finance district is established, which could fund new parking there as an incentive to the developer. Clearly there will be a lot of support for an attractive project -- one that wins the favor of the community.
 
Traffic issues and pedestrian friendliness
The Regional Transportation Advisory Committee is working with MDOT on road upgrades, to avert future gridlock, improve traffic safety and promote pedestrian friendliness. As long-term plans mature, we need to make sure public concerns are incorporated.
 
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?
 
Keeping the city vital and attractive
Developers need to know up-front what the community wants and expects. Downtown experts Doyle Hyett and Robert Gibbs strongly recommend that we have downtown architectural standards to better market the downtown.
 
Doyle Hyett also strongly recommends a local historic district for its economic advantages and incentives. The Downtown Management Board façade program gives a taste of what is possible.
 
Neighborhood Enterprise Zones (NEZs) are residential abatements that were part of the 2011 Council goal setting session. This is something we should carefully consider by looking at how it has worked in other communities and where it could apply here. Industrial abatements continue to be one of the City's economic tools.
 
Our parks are valuable assets. The planned downtown greenway improvements will enhance pedestrian access to the downtown. The new Bear River Valley improvements were an instant attraction for pedestrians and recreation.
 
Recently there was some confusion on Council about park policies. Our parks are strongly protected by the City Charter. The City has long-standing rules for community events and private permits. City concessions are controlled by competitive bids and contracts, and Council approval. The Parks Master Plan details the conditions and plans for each park. However, because of the confusion, these policies should probably be clarified, consolidated and published in a policy guide to prevent future confusion. 
 
6. What is your assessment of the city’s infrastructure? If improvements are needed, what areas should be the city’s priority to address?
 
Capital Improvements Program (CIP)
Physical infrastructure is prioritized in the City's Capital Improvement Program (CIP). The CIP is a six-year running plan, prepared annually by the Planning Commission and approved by the City Council. 
 
Aspects of the City's infrastructure are also in the Planning Commission's Master Plan, called Blueprints Petoskey, and the Parks and Recreation Master Plan.
 
I am pleased to see the new fire station come to fruition. The Bear River Valley is an excellent example of a City project with regional benefits and support, through Tax Increment Financing. Road upgrades are gradually being implemented with MDOT, to avert future gridlock, improve traffic safety and promote pedestrian friendliness. Aging overhead electric wires are being replaced with underground wires, which is more reliable and doesn’t interfere with trees.
 
I am aware that the City is considering a Geographic Information System to keep better track of aging infrastructure and better coordinate improvements, if the GIS can be cost-effective. 
 
Again, as long-term plans mature, we need to be familiar with community-driven goals and options; but also, we need to be careful to revisit them to make sure they still apply and that they incorporate public concerns. I will encourage staff to continue to explore ways to incorporate public input, especially during the formative stages of planning.      
 
7. What is your assessment of the city’s services? If improvements are needed, what areas should be the city’s priority to address?
 
Feedback
 
During my door-to-door campaign, I have found that most residents have voiced high satisfaction with city services. There was a 2010 citizen survey to help prioritize, which I would review if elected. Some Bay Harbor residents have concerns about services not being commensurate with taxes paid. There have been constructive fact-based meetings about that. Most people are pleased with the Bear River Valley Recreational Area, though naturally some would have preferred it to be less developed. I will encourage staff to continue to explore ways to incorporate public input in projects like this, especially during the formative stages of planning. Speeding traffic seems to be a concern throughout the community. There is some concern over rising utility rates. I explained that rates are driven by actual costs. There are localized concerns regarding street parking. Improvements to the US-31 corridor near the hospital need to address the concerns of residents and businesses most affected. A public hearing is planned for November 10.
 
8. What in your qualifications and background separates you from the other candidates and would prompt voters to elect you? 
 
History of serving and working with others
 
● Since 1978, I have been serving customers at my business with a friendly attitude in delivering products and services.
 
● Since 2006, I have volunteered my time and equipment to help produce over 140 videos of City meetings for television and web access, to help keep everyone informed. 
 
● In 2010, I was elected to serve as President of my church Council, having previously served as treasurer for 14 years. 
 
● Since 1990, I have volunteered in an area community band.
 
Prepared for Council
 
It is important that I have attended City Council meetings regularly since 2003. This gives me a good overview of how things work, what has been happening and what has gone wrong in the past. In 2006 I participated in the Blueprint Petoskey Charrettes, to help develop community consensus on design principles. I have been selected as a Third Ward Delegate to the City nominating conventions for seven years. I saw the interview process for the new City Manager and Public Safety Director, and offered feedback.
 
Solid education
 
Behind these roots is a solid education from one of the top engineering colleges in the country, providing an excellent foundation for understanding complex issues.
 
Consensus approach
 
Council is non-partisan by City Charter. I value and respect that, and I will take a non-partisan approach.
 
Campaign website
 
http://grant-dittmar.com
 
 
 
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City Council – Ward 3
 
Sherry Loar-Trudell
 
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. 
 
City Council – Ward 3
 
Sherry Loar-Trudell
 
-DOB 06/06/60
 
-Daughter of Ivan (Rocky) Loar and Shirley (O’Kray) Loar
 
-City of Petoskey Resident 38 years / citizen of Petoskey 3rd Ward 20 years
 
            Attended:
 
-St. Francis Xavier School
 
-Petoskey High School
 
-North Central Michigan College
 
-104th MI State Police Academy
 
Married:
 
-Rick Trudell, Sr. / Officer MDOC since 1981
 
Six Children:
 
-Rick Jr. (Spouse Jennifer and children Lincoln and Sophie),
 
-Jonathan
 
-Robert (Spouse Laine’)
 
-Tomas (Spouse Meghan and daughter Bella)
 
-Adam
 
-Randy
 
 
 
Petoskey Business Owner:
 
-Baby Steps Childcare Center L.L.C. Since 1994
 
-Americana Pancakes L.L.C. Since 1996
 
-CEO American Inc., Columbus Ohio Since 2009
 
Licenses Held:
 
-American Safety & Health Institute #108335
 
-MI Department of Human Service # DG204247103
 
-U.S. Department of Agriculture # FPL100344
 
-Notary Public
 
-MI Concealed Carry # 335713E
 
Councils, Commissions and Boards Served:
 
-National Association for the Education of Young Children
 
-Petoskey Concord Academy Strategic Planning
 
-Thomas Jefferson Society
 
-MI Bureau of Children and Adult Licensing
 
-Liberty Council Litigation Team 
 
2. Why are you running for public office in the City of Petoskey?
 
Containing costs is my priority. Our community should be affordable for those who work there, to live there.
 
3. Do you have a specific platform upon which you are campaigning? If so, please explain. 
 
 
 
Petoskey has valuable, untapped, professional business expertise. I believe I can serve as an ambassador to business leaders and infuse their wisdom into a common sense government.
 
4. What do you see as the top three issues facing the City of Petoskey in the coming 1-3 years?
 
- Prioritizing the budget without the need to increase taxes or fees.  
 
 - Petoskey Pointe: Public safety and project development
 
 - Parking
 
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?
 
Capitalize on the natural beauty and family friendly environment, which is Petoskey, while maximizing our assets and keeping a watchful eye on fiscal soundness.
 
6. What is your assessment of the city’s infrastructure? If improvements are needed, what areas should be the city’s priority to address?
 
City staff is phenomenal. We have the best of the best working for our city.
 
They maintain our infrastructure admirably. It would be my hope to find money to take care of blight such as the very sound Bear River Bridge’s fascia.
 
7. What is your assessment of the city’s services? If improvements are needed, what areas should be the city’s priority to address?
 
As stated previously, I think we have the highest quality of workers who truly care for our city. This is why it is important to continue to take care of those who take care of us. People first!
 
8. What in your qualifications and background separates you from the other candidates and would prompt voters to elect you?
 
Positive communication skills, mixed with determination and tenacity, is a gift that allows me to work well with others. It is the foundation on which I have built numerous successes.
 
Most recently my tenacity and determination stopped the Governor of Michigan from siphoning funds from money set aside to care for indigent children to further her political career. This saved the taxpayer’s of Michigan four million dollars.
 
My management skills are more like a captain of a team rather than a boss. Together with my teammates we operate both, a successful third generation manufacturing business and Baby Steps Childcare Center.
 
·        2006 Business Woman of the year by the National Business Advisory Council Washington, DC
 
·        2011 Sammie Watchdog Award by the Sam Adams Alliance
 
Chicago, IL
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