Six candidates make their pitch for one vacant Chelsea City Council seat
Six candidates interviewed Tuesday for an open seat on the Chelsea City Council and all of them had several things in common - they love living in Chelsea and want to help make it an even stronger community.
The opening on council follows the resignation of Bill Holmberg, who was forced to leave his elected position due to job commitments and relocation outside of Chelsea.
AnnArbor.com file photo
They were asked their thoughts about city services, how they'd deal with a phone call from a resident with a complaint, and what they thought the city was doing well and what needed improving.
All of them agreed that both the city's fire and police services were top notch.
Here are some of the highlights from each candidate's interview.
Charles Burgess, a former Sylvan Township supervisor and current member of the city’s Board of Review and ZBA, said he applied because “I think it’s everyone’s responsibility to give back to the community they live in.”
He said he thought Chelsea’s biggest challenge was what the city would do with some of the buildings it owns, but said he was “neutral about the Longworth property.”
Jerry Hayes, who has lived in the city for six years, said he relocated to Chelsea from Ypsilanti, and said he had two daughters in the Chelsea schools. “We were really, really impressed by the community before we came here and we’re even more so now.”
The sales rep called Chelsea a “unique community that moves at its own pace,” and called its diversity of businesses “a sound foundation. It’s impressive to walk around town and see all the viable businesses.”
He said the city’s challenge would be from a school’s perspective to keep growing its population and to keep up home values.
“As a family, we are truly blessed to be in Chelsea,” he said. “I thought I wanted to be part of a community, to make it better, to help and serve and I really believe in Chelsea.”
Warren McArthur, said he’d lived in Chelsea for almost 40 years, raised three children and owned a business for 20 years in the city.
Although he noted that the city had changed over the years, “Most of it has been for the better.”.
He said he’d look at issues from an “analytical standpoint,” and weigh the costs versus the benefits.
“I’ll listen to the most influential and the least influential,” he said, noting that sometimes residents are forgotten. “Chelsea should make decisions conservatively.”
He said he’d like to see improvements in the leaf pick-up system and said he thought that the city made a bad decision when it purchased the reverse osmosis water system, which at the time was new and unproven technology.
Palmer Morrel-Samuels, a current member of the city’s Downtown Development Authority, said several people had urged him to “step forward (and apply for the opening.) My intentions are good, I want to serve the community,” he said.
“My goal is to provide “informed continuity,” adding that when making policies accountability, collaboration, openness and responsible use of tax money were very important.
Calling himself “an evidence and research guy,” he said he was “seriously committed to community service and loved serving on the DDA.”
Morrel-Samuels said he wants to promote “neighborly and thoughtful dialogue.”
Marcia Parker has lived in Chelsea since 1983, and was the only applicant of the six who tossed her hat in the ring to run for City Council last November.
“I want to see our city continue to be a destination,” she said, adding that she understood that City Council members often had tough decisions to make and that these decisions wouldn’t please all of the city’s residents.
“I’m proud to be a member of this community,” she said and “I believe I have value to add to the community.”
She, too, noted that the Longworth property is a challenge that the city must face and said she was glad that Chelsea was attracting new businesses. She said that she was in favor of “logical potential growth that’s reasonable,” and wanted to see vacant areas in the city filled.
Parker said “open lines of communication,” were very important as a council member, adding that “You need criticism to keep you on your toes.”
Paul Wiklanski moved from Ann Arbor to Chelsea eight years ago and lives on Main Street. He said he looked at the City Council opening as “a great opportunity to see Chelsea become an even greater community.”
“Chelsea is more than just an address,” he said. “It’s my home. We’ve chosen Chelsea and I want to help make it the best community it can be.”
He said one of the challenges facing the city was “recapturing the momentum” the city had when he first moved there, which included a thriving artistic community. But, he said that Sounds and Sights on Thursday Nights was a great way to bring neighbors and people from throughout the city together in a unique way.
He gave high praise to the city’s library, calling it “a phenomenal gathering point and a vital community resource.” He said of late there’s an evolution taking place in the Clocktower complex that gives people a reason to cross the railroad tracks.
The City Council is expected to make a decision on its newest council member Tuesday during its next regular meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Washington Street Education complex in the board chambers. That person will be officially sworn in July 10.