Three candidates hope for Evart council seat

EVART — Three Evart residents are hoping to be placed in one of two seats among other Evart City Council members following the Nov. 5 election.

Incumbent Ralph Carlson is once again in the running, while Dan Elliot and Robert Foster also join the race this year.

The following is a look at Carlson, Elliot and Foster and their views on being a council member, city issues and bringing jobs to the community.

Ralph Carlson - Incumbent

PIONEER: Why are you running for Evart City Coucil and why are you the best candidate?

CARLSON: I am running for a second term. I feel that many issues that I have worked on in the past two years are very important for the growth of the city. I woulds like to continue working on them and see our city grow.

What issues do you feel are the most pressing for Evart residents?

CARLSON: To overcome the loss of a major business, Dean's Dairy is very critical. They paid large taxes and a large portion of our sewer bill; now the citizens must help make up the difference, which puts a burden on the community.

What can city officials do to attract business to the community?

CARLSON: Welcome industries and businesses with open arms and work with them to help them become successful.

Do you feel the Downtown Development Authority and Local Development Finance Authority still have a role in the community?

CARLSON: The DDA and the LDFA do have a role in the community and we as council need to work with them.

What does Evart mean to you?

CARLSON: Evart is a nice town to grow up in. We have problems, but show me a town that doesn't. I moved here in the early '70s and don't regret it a bit. I worked at the Evart Post office for 26 years and I also have been an active member of the Evart Fire Department for the past 26 years. I made the right choice by locating here.

Dan Elliot - Candidate

PIONEER: Why are you running for Evart City Coucil and why are you the best candidate?

ELLIOT: Since my retirement, I have remained active in professional associations and public affairs organizations. I am currently the treasurer of Rural Partners of Michigan and maintain an active participation in the International City County Management Association (ICMA), the Michigan Local Government Management Association and Mid-Michigan Manager’s Association. I also provide consulting services through my small business, MGDS Michigan Governmental Development Services. I have taught a course in emergency services planning at Delta College and local government budgeting at Ferris State University’s public administration program. I believe my long public service experience and current associations can assist in providing Evart with future competitive opportunities that may positively benefit the community.

What issues do you feel are the most pressing for Evart residents?

ELLIOT: Evart is, like most other Michigan communities, facing a future that will be much of its own making. For several years now the federal and particularly state governments have not only reduced support to local governments but have significantly burdened communities with mandates for which little or no funding have been provided. In Michigan, state government has not only nearly eliminated all but constitutionally mandated financial support and devastated local government financial resources, but has balanced the state’s constant business tax reductions by taking funding from local governments and its citizens. State policies are largely driven by party ideology and not by any notion of service to citizens or community problem solving. Communities will be left to determine their own futures. Evart must develop its own long term community goals and create its future opportunities for economic growth and desired quality of life without the expectation that much support will come from Washington, D.C. or Lansing. Increased cooperation with other governments, schools, colleges, and private organizations will be necessary to meet the future needs of all local governments, but particularly rural places like Evart. Continued investment in quality municipal employees and their constant training to maintain best practices knowledge for their jobs will be important in maintaining the community as one that will likely attract future investors and job opportunities. The community must strive to be a place where newcomers are not only welcomed, but will desire to live, work and contribute back to the community. The quality of the services provided by the city government, its city council and employees is very important to providing community desirability to citizens and future investors.

What can city officials do to attract business to the community?

ELLIOT: The most important thing for any community to do to attract business or residents, for that matter, is to determine what the community would like to be “when it grows up.” Establishing the goals and determining the quality of life, facilities and opportunities is the role of citizens and the city council. Assuring that the resources of the community are addressed toward accomplishing the goals set forth in a strategic plan is the most significant thing that a council member can do to make the community attractive. Businesses will be attracted to a vibrant and ready community that is likely to lead to their own business success.

Do you feel the DDA and LDFA still have a role in the community?

ELLIOT: Evart is unique for a small community. It has a long history of very significant industrialization, a large central business district for a small rural community. It is located in a very attractive northern Michigan recreational area, has significant public service investments such as a high quality and highly reliable public water system, waste water treatment facilities, access by a major state highway to both eastern and western U.S. major markets, the two largest U.S. trade partners (Canada and Mexico) by nearby freeways and a community owned airport that can and does provide support for those industries who must be able to support “just in time” delivery of products to their customers. Nearby are several universities and colleges which are essential for any community to be economically competitive. The city maintains an active economic development effort through its Local Development Finance Authority, Downtown Development Authority and Chamber of Commerce organizations. The Evart LDFA and DDA have been and continue to be the foremost leaders in economic development for not just Evart, but for this region of Michigan. Both need continued support, extensions of their current 30-year life spans in order to enable them to access the financial resources that only they can access. Both the DDA and LDFA have very significant legal powers that no other government, city or county possess. As America increasingly re-industrializes, Evart must expand its LDFA boundaries to include the industrial property acquired for expansion and large industry location needs before opportunities are lost when an industry comes shopping for a new site. Industries will not wait for a community to “get ready.”

What does Evart mean to you?

ELLIOT: I came to Evart in 1981 to serve as its city manager. After a nearly 30-year career as city manager and later director of the Evart Local Development Finance Authority and Downtown Development Authority, I retired in the spring of 2010. While I maintain active participation in national, state and regional professional organizations, I continue to make my residence in Evart. The continual improvement and viability of the community is important to me. I believe my knowledge and experience can still be helpful to promoting the quality of life that I hope Evart can continue to provide.

(no photo available)

Robert (BJ) Foster - Candidate

PIONEER: Why are you running for Evart City Coucil and why are you the best candidate?

FOSTER: I was asked to run again as I served six years in the past. I feel with that experience combined with my business experience I am the best candidate. Foster's Super Market 1977-1998, Creekside Car Wash and Four Seasons Insulation 1999 - present.

What issues do you feel are the most pressing for Evart residents?

FOSTER: Blight, substandard housing, loss of jobs.

What can city officials do to attract business to the community?

FOSTER: Offer to business/manufacturing what it is we have: plenty of water at a reasonable rate and the ability to treat waste water. We have sites available today.

Do you feel the DDA and LDFA still have a role in the community?

FOSTER: The DDA and the LDFA can't afford to pay directors with the decreases in funding they have experienced. So keep the DDA and LDFA, but move the directors position into the city managers duties with no additional pay, saving the city thousands of dollars. The airport building would become the "New City Hall."

What does Evart mean to you?

FOSTER: Evart means home and everyone wants what's best for home. We just have to do what is best for the city.