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Meet Grand Haven's City Council candidates By Alex Doty

Andy Cawthon

Age: 69

Occupation: Retired

Education: BA, Life Sciences (University of California, Santa Barbara); MS, Life Sciences (University of Illinois, Chicago)

Community involvement: Chair, Grand Haven Musical Fountain Committee - 2012 to Present (member for 5 years, Chair for four years); Chair, Grand Haven Main Street Promotions & Marketing Committee - 2006 to Present (member for eleven years, Secretary for four years, Chair for four years); Past Chair, Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival - 2001-2013 (board member for thirteen years, VP Operations six years, Executive VP two years, Chair two years; Kid's Parade Co-Chair thirteen years); Southside Neighborhood Association - 2001 to Present; Sandpiper Condominium Association Board – 2005 – 2010 – Board Secretary; NOCH – Valet Parking Volunteer – 2 years; Memorial Day Flag Marking of Veterans Graves – Lake Forest Cemetery – 2015 to Present; Participant “Resilient Grand Haven” forums; 100 Men Who Give - member 5 years

Why you are running for office?

Friends and colleagues have suggested for several years that I “would be good on City Council”.

My goal as a City Council member would be to improve the functioning of the City Council decision making, ie more due diligence, more decisions based on facts, more research and wider Community input, fewer decisions based on emotions and knee-jerk reaction.

What is the single biggest issue facing the city right now?

I believe that we are at a unique point in time regarding the BLP Sims power plant and its employees.

How do you plan to address this issue?

Given the projected remaining useful life of the plant at 3-5 years, and the recent, fully-funded conversion of the BLP Retirement Plan from defined benefit (Pension, continuing for existing employees) to defined contribution (401K for new employees) as well as retirement of all outstanding bonded debt, now would seem to be the optimum for planning a transition to a more modern, possibly hybrid power generation capability. We could build a new technology, more efficient power plant (gas, biomass) and also create power sharing agreements with other sources such as the Muskegon 40mW solar farm, Port Huron Wind and other sources. This approach would retain local control, independence from the "grid" and expensive and, often unreliable, sources such as Consumer's Power or DTE. We have many attractive options but we need a long range plan.

Why should voters choose you?

My approach to solving Community issues is to seek broad public input, engage in due diligence and research to explore a wide range of options and the consequences to the Community for each choice.

What sets you apart from your opponents?

I believe that I bring a unique set of experiences and perspective to representing all of the citizens of Grand Haven.

My eleven years’ experience on the Grand Haven Main Street (formerly DDA) has given me an appreciation for the challenges facing local businesses especially the extreme seasonality of the “retail season”, basically Memorial Day to Labor Day. Many local businesses make the majority of their revenues in this roughly 16 week “season”. Should they and how can they keep their doors open the rest of the year?

My experience with the Coast Guard Festival (13 years), Grand Haven Main Street Promotions & Marketing (11 years) and the Musical Fountain (5 years) has given me an appreciation for the economic impact of the 40+ special events that occur in Grand Haven every year. Special Events have a significant impact on the residential and business Communities but are they enough to sustain a vibrant and broad ranged and resilient local economy?

My years of experience as a landlord and property owner, including a weekly rental property, a Southside home and condominium, gives me background and perspective on the local housing market and especially market forces increasing property values. This, in turn, results in a lack of affordable housing which can then affect the labor force available to our factory, healthcare and service businesses. The ALICE phenomenon describes households that are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) forcing many workers to live outside of Grand Haven and some to look elsewhere for work. This also helps to explain the difficulty many of our businesses face finding workers. They simply can’t afford to live and work in Grand Haven.

Because of the above experience, I have established knowledge of and working relationships with a wide range of City Departments and Boards & Commissions including: City Administration, Finance, Public Safety, Public Works, BLP, Community Development and the Community Center. I believe that I have the experience, willingness and contacts to help citizens and businesses navigate our City Government.

About my voice. Many comment that I am hard to hear and that is true. It is a result of a traffic accident forty years ago that resulted in a crushed larynx and eventually a prosthetic vocal chord. The career effect of this is that in meetings I tend to listen a lot and consider all points in a discussion before speaking. Perhaps oddly, this has made me more attentive to hearing many points of view on an issue before speaking about it.

Robert Monetza

Age: 63

Occupation: Engineer

Education: B.S. from Western Michigan University. Also earned Associate Degree from Muskegon Business College, Master Citizen Planner Certificate from MSU Extension, Elected Officials Academy Level One at Michigan Municipal League, plus numerous professional and civic training opportunities. Graduated from Holland High School, class of 1971.

Elected offices held: Grand Haven City Council, 2008 – present.

Community involvement: I’ve devoted hundreds of hours each year in the Grand Haven Schools as a coach for Science Olympiad at both Middle School and High School levels from 1999 to the present, and also as a coach for Odyssey of the Mind prior to that. I served on the Planning Commission for nine years, from 1999 to 2008, including five years as Chairman, plus five years as Chairman of the Environment and Natural Resources Commission. Since my election to Council, I have represented the City on the Harbor Transit Board, and also on the WMSRDC Policy Committee, which is the MPO responsible for distributing Federal and MDOT dollars. I’ve also been a member of the MML Energy and Environment Committee, reviewing upcoming legislation in Lansing. As a council member I’ve participated in several ad-hoc committees. I served on the Tri-Cities Historical Museum Board from 2010 through 2016, including serving as Secretary, Treasurer, and Facilities Committee chair.

Why are you running for office again?

I’d like to continue my service to the City and work on the unfinished business of the City. I think that I’ve contributed to many of the great things that have been happening, and that the City is well run; I’d like to do more. This has been a very gratifying experience.

What is the single biggest issue facing the city right now?

There are always lots of issues, it is hard to single out one as the biggest. My goal is to preserve and improve the quality of life in the City and all the neighborhoods through prudent investment in infrastructure, wise delivery of services, and investment in our citizens where opportunities arise. Managing the costs, revenue, and debt burden required while doing the business of the City is always a major concern.

How do you plan to address this issue?

We have to carefully determine what projects we can afford, listen to know what is important to the people, how to raise funds, and how these things can be done cost-effectively. We also must do high quality work, whether it is replacement of infrastructure or maintenance of streets, pipes, lights, etc. We invest in citizens through neighborhood housing services, economic development opportunities, and instilling a sense of safety, stability, and security throughout the City.

Why should voters choose you?

I bring an analytic approach and use facts to make fair and informed decisions, as I’ve done throughout my career as an engineer in industry, and as I’ve done in my service on City boards and Council.

What sets you apart from your opponents?

My long record of service to GHAPS and the City show that I am determined and devoted to get the best resolution to issues that I can.

Dennis Scott

Age: 68

Occupation: Retired and bus driver for Grand Haven Public Schools

Education: Graduated from Grand Haven high school

Elected offices held: Grand Haven City Council

Community Involvement: City Council, Airport Board Liaison, Duncan Woods Liaison

Why are you running for office again?

To continue with the projects that we have started and to be able to be a part of making Grand Haven even a better place to live and work than it is now.

What is the single biggest issue facing the city right now?

The biggest issue facing the city right now is infrastructure like the old water and sewer lines.

How do you plan to address this issue?

Replacing the ones that need replacing, when we can find the funds to do them.

Why should voters choose you?

I have worked for the Grand Haven Public Works Department for 36 years, and I know where the lines are that need to be replaced. I have been on the council for eight years and I have the experience to continue with the progress we have already made.

What sets you apart from your opponents?

The experience I have, and the commitment I have to make Grand Haven an even better city than it is now. I was born and grew up here and I love this city and the people who reside here.

Created By
Alex Doty
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