Two candidates running for Evart Mayor

EVART — It's election season, and two candidates are hoping to receive votes from Evart residents to seat them as mayor at the Evart City Council table.

Current Mayor Eric Schmidt and current council member Charles Walters are going head-to-head during this year's election, which will take place on Nov. 5.

Following is a look at Schmidt and his view on city issues, the position of mayor and bringing jobs to Evart. Walters did not respond to questions from The Herald Review.

Eric Schmidt - Incumbent

PIONEER: Why are you running for the mayor position and why are you the best candidate?

SCHMIDT: The main reason I run for Mayor of Evart is because I care about the future of the community. Along with council, we make our best educated decisions on every issue that comes across our table. I enjoy setting goals for Evart, and work hard to satisfy those goals. Over the past three terms, I have created a good working relationship with city employees as well as networked myself with other communities and agencies. It is my opinion that I am the best candidate for mayor because I am approachable, understand others needs, lead by example, built my business in Evart and have decided to raise my family in Evart.

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

SCHMIDT: As with many communities, there is a financial strain on Evart. With the loss of Dean Foods, there has also been a loss of revenue for our Waste Water Department. Our residents have relied on our factories to aid in the water and sewer revenue, however, now that factories are seeking savings, the residents have to absorb the cost of up-keeping our infrastructures. Even though Evart statistically has a low water and sewer billing, it is a strain on the residents. In the past six years as mayor, the budget has been cut in several areas, especially in the Police Department and Department of Pubic Works. Our city manager, along with department heads, strive hard to give quality services with the budget they are allotted.

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

SCHMIDT: Many communities consider tax abatement to attract businesses, however, if most use tax abatement, then it is very competitive in that aspect. I believe Evart has to create a sense of community that makes outside businesses feel welcomed. Enforcing our blight laws and cleaning up our community is one aspect. We can make interested parties aware of our assets, such as our airport and the traffic it can handle, and the availability of land located at our industrial park and business district. We need to boast about our variety of recreation in the area. Our city hall, DDA and LDFA work well with businesses interested to help with funding, grants, and legal matters.

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

SCHMIDT: I believe the DDA and LDFA have a vital role in the community. It is very hard to "force" a business to move into Evart. The DDA and LDFA keep every aspect in line for those interested parties. The boards of both departments set their goals and work hard to reach them. Our city manager works well with both departments and I feel it would be a great loss to Evart if the LDFA and DDA did not exist. Evart would lose some captured taxes to surrounding entities. In my opinion, the responsibility would be overwhelming for one person to handle. The LDFA and DDA are great tools in supporting, maintaining, and seeking new businesses and industry. Working as a team, we can help each other succeed. I'm a big Detroit Tigers fan and if Prince Fielder were to strike out 20 times in a row, he might get a few "boos." However, when he hits that grand slam to win the game, he is everyone's hero again. The DDA and LDFA have swung the bat many times, but be patient, the grand slam may be just around the corner.

What does Evart mean to you?

SCHMIDT: Evart is home. It is security. It is friendship. I have made the decision to raise my family in Evart for those reasons. My wife, Shannon, and I have decided to grow our business in Evart. Our two oldest daughters, Olyvia and Taylor, also have started businesses here. We also teach our youngest, Ayla, the value of small town living. We enjoy everything Evart has to offer. If re-elected as mayor, I will strive to continue to make your stay in Evart a more enjoyable experience.