DeWitt Mayor, 2-year term

DeWitt Mayor, 2-year term, vote for 1

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  • Paul Brown

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    Susan Leeming

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Biographical Information

What makes you more qualified than other candidates for this office?

Do you support raising taxes as a way to pay for road improvements? Yes or no, please explain.

Are you comfortable with the structure and scope of local government? Yes or no, please explain.

Related to government structure, what would you change?

What are the three most important issues facing the city/township and how would you address them?

As property tax revenue and state aid decline, is it appropriate for the county to assume a larger role in providing services to city/township residents? Yes or no, please explain.

What city services do you consider most vital?

What city/township services are least vital and can be trimmed to lower expenses?

Are you current in all tax, alimony and child support obligations? Yes or no. If no, please explain.

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Hometown Rockford, Illinois
Education BS in Biology and Zoology (double major), Honors College, Michigan State University
Family Two children, son 29 and daughter 31, both married and living in Grand Rapids.
Professional Experience I have worked in the Department of Environmental Quality for 35 years, in management positions since 1998. I have experience in water quality issues, storm water runoff, remediation and redevelopment of contaminated sites, and currently also oversee the field operations addressing the Flint Water Response. As the Assistant Chief of the second largest DEQ Division (300 staff), I manage the Division budget as well as personnel, policy and legislative issues. I have lead stakeholder and technical committees; provided presentations to audiences of all sizes; and facilitated numerous problem-solving workgroups.
Political Experience I have served on the DeWitt City Council for 13 years, including 9 years as Mayor Pro-Tem, filling in for the Mayor whenever he is not available. I initially became involved in local government in 2001, when I was asked to assist with drafting the City’s Storm Water Ordinance. I have been on the Planning Commission for 15 years. As Mayor Pro-Tem, I serve as the chair of the Finance and Budget Committee and the Zoning Board of Appeals. I have served on various City committees including the DDA Façade Grant Selection Committee and the Accessory Structures Committee.
I am the only candidate with experience in DeWitt City government. I have served on the DeWitt City Council for 13 years, including 9 years as Mayor Pro-Tem. I initially became involved in local government in 2001, when I was asked to assist with drafting the City’s Storm Water Ordinance, which has become a model for other communities. I am running for Mayor of DeWitt because I love living here, I care about people and the community, and I have the experience to lead our city government. As the chair of the Finance Committee, I have worked to ensure DeWitt has a fiscally responsible budget. We proactively maintain our infrastructure, improve our Parks, and fund our retiree obligations.
There is no justification for raising city taxes for roads. The maintenance of DeWitt’s 26 miles of roads in DeWitt is funded with State Act 51 gas tax, grants for large projects, and supplemented with approximately $165,000 each year from the general fund. The Gas Tax Legislation will increase revenue in FY17-18. The city evaluates the condition of the roads each year, prioritizes repairs based on the data, and updates our road repair schedule. City council uses this information for budgeting and allocates road repair funds accordingly. It’s a good system that works. Herbison Road, which is a county road and outside of the City's jurisdiction, is scheduled to be repaved next year.
Yes, the structure and scope of city government as defined by our charter serves the needs of a home rule city such as DeWitt very well. Our charter was written by a committee of citizens at the direction of our former city attorney Dan Matson, and adopted by a vote of the people in 1994. The charter is examined by an appointed committee every 7 years, and when amendments are recommended, they must be placed on the ballot for approval by the voters. The Charter mandates a 6 person council and mayor selected by the voters, and assigns the powers and responsibilities of the Mayor, council, and staff. This structure has worked well in DeWitt.
Our city government works well in its current form. Much of the success can be attributed to the high level of engagement and countless hours of services provided by community members that volunteer to serve on our boards and commissions. The boards and commissions provide recommendations to the City Council, delivering critical citizen input to our ordinances and the management of city services. The position of City Administrator implements policy as set by the Mayor and Council, oversees day to day operations, and serves as a liaison to Council with the numerous commissions, boards, authorities, committees and city departments.
DeWitt is a small town that feels like home. Our priorities are simple: listen to the community, address their concerns, and continue to make DeWitt a friendly place where families want to live, friends want to visit, and local businesses thrive. Our downtown is vibrant with new businesses, our parks are inviting, and home values are rising. To build upon this success, I will work with the DDA to encourage business opportunities and improve downtown parking; seek grants to complete sidewalks, expand bike paths, and update parks; explore opportunities for collaboration to improve services and reduce costs; increase efficiency at City Hall, and address our police chief’s facility concerns.
No. The City of DeWitt, our City Council, Mayor and staff, have done an excellent job of providing services to residents while remaining fiscally sound. Residents appreciate the individual attention they receive from their neighbors at City Hall. The county would not be able to provide services as timely, on a personal level, or as attentive to the needs of our community. Sixty-two percent of the City revenue is from property taxes, however even during the housing market downturn of 2008 to 2015, the City was able to maintain services without raising taxes. The millage rate in DeWitt has not been raised since 1998, and is comparable to similar size communities.
The most vital services are Police, Fire, Department of Public Works, road maintenance, and administrative services. The DeWitt City Police are well trained and pro-active; they have an excellent relationship with our schools, young people and senior citizens, and are highly visible and integrated in our community. The DeWitt Area Fire Authority is a volunteer department, also highly trained, and collaborates with other local Fire Departments to provide timely, professional service. Our DPW staff typically have city streets plowed by 6 a.m. They also provide public services such as maintaining parks, street sweeping, leaf pick-up, city vehicle repair, and assisting with local events.
The City of DeWitt provides services in an efficient and effective manner without raising taxes. The City is always open to save taxpayer money and provide even better services. Expenses have been cut by either using city staff for projects, or contracting through bids for projects/services to ensure the lowest possible cost. Collaborating with neighboring local units of government has also resulted in savings, such as the DeWitt Area Recreational Authority, the services through the sewer authority, drinking water through the Board of Water and Light, and the DeWitt Area Fire Authority. I will continue to pursue potential options for intergovernmental cooperation to reduce City costs.