Last week, The Ticker ran a preview of the seven candidates for City Commission by running answers to a series of questions. Below are my answers to all five questions (three were published) and the full responses to the ones that were edited down to fit The Ticker’s needs. As well, I include my updated portrait-cheese its!
If you want to meet to discuss any of these or other community issues, please send me a message and let’s connect.
~ A version of these responses were published on August 21 on The Ticker.
What do you think of the current City Commission?
I have a tremendous amount of gratitude for all seven current members for stepping up and serving the community in this role. Anyone willing to engage and represent on behalf of the community has my respect. I have learned a lot about what it means to engage in a public process by observing their conduct, commitment and dedication.
Why are you running?
The impact of today’s decisions sets the course for the next 20, 30, 40 years and it’s critical to think about that every time a street is repaved, a development approved, or new policy set. Traverse City is a great place and now is the time to make it better by ensuring that we add value to the investment and policy decisions we make. We are blessed with natural treasurers right out our front doors and culturally we outperform similar sized communities–we need to match those riches with public policy and investment that leads Traverse City towards a strong, resilient future.
What is your top priority for the City? Why?
My overarching principle is to consider people and the human scale as a priority in every decision the City makes. We need to do this so that Traverse City attracts, and retains, what are the two growing demographics of 1) new retirees and 2) mobile, younger entrepreneurs. Both demographics have a choice on where to live and are seeking lively, safe, and healthy places. Traverse City, specifically the City proper, needs to be that place.
What was the Commission’s best action/vote over the last two years, and why?
One of the best actions was to move forward with the bayfront improvement at Clinch Park. There was a point back in 2011 where it seemed plausible that the City might forfeit a large sum of grant monies by not approving a plan that came out of a lengthy public process. The result is a transformed Clinch Park that is always busy. Those improvements made possible the amazing make over of the Con Foster building into The Bijou by the Bay and now the stage is set for further developments and programming in the space between the bay and downtown.
Conversely, what was the commission’s worst/most disappointing/troubling action over the last two years, and why?
Over the last two years the culture and climate from the City Commission has alienated many citizens who simply want to be part of the process. People want to be engaged with their city and our neighbors have a tremendous amount of talent, insight, and professionalism to offer. Unfortunately, when they are treated poorly, marginalized, or simply met with indifference, they likely leave with no interest in coming back. First impressions are the only impressions that count. We must do better to empower people to help make Traverse City great.
Gary Howe grew up in Long Lake and moved into the City after high school in 1991. After moving away for university and to study in Asia, he moved back to Traverse City in 2002. He is an adjunct instructor in the Social Science Department at Northwestern Michigan College and a freelance photojournalist, writer, and photographer.
(More at A Strong Traverse City’s About page)