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Three vie for seats on Munising City Commission

Vicki Ballas

MUNISING — Three candidates are running for two seats on the Munising City Commission in Tuesday’s general election.

The candidates are incumbent Vicki Ballas, Christine Berry and Bob Wilkinson.

The seats are for two years with no term limits.

The commission meets at 6 p.m. on the first Wednesday and third Monday of each month at Munising City Hall, 301 E. Superior St.

Candidates are presented below in alphabetical order by last name. Each was asked the same questions via email with replies limited to a set number of words. Responses were printed as received.

Christine Berry

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.

Vicki Ballas

1.) List a few details of your background you think voters would want to know. (75 words)

I have lived in Munising for 28 years, have a bachelor of science degree from Northern Michigan University, raised two children and have been envolved in many local projects: Safe Routes to School, the Alger Wellness Coalition, Communities That Care, M-Packs, Market Walk, school hoop house, skate park, Cash Mob and the People’s Garden, just to name a few.

2.) What do you think are the most important issues facing the city? (100 words)

Some major current issues for Munising are tourism and protecting our natural resources, seasonal rentals and affordable long-term housing, and we can’t ignore climate change.

3.) Why do you think voters should choose you? (200 words)

I think I bring to the table experience working with the community, for the betterment of the community and for the future of our community.

Christine Berry

1.) List a few details of your background you think voters would want to know. (75 words)

During the last 15 years, I have been fortunate to work with many rural communities understanding the challenges associated with limited budgets as well as the challenges associated with planning for the future of our community. I have also worked many community development projects including housing, brownfield clean-ups as well as bringing a healthcare facility to a community.

2.) What do you think are the most important issues facing the city? (100 words)

Important issues facing the city include housing, especially for seasonal employees. Other issues include the empty buildings and storefronts in the downtown. As Munising grows, so does the need for Infrastructure upgrades, not just residential growth, but as seasonal tourism growth as well. And lastly, continuing to create an environment to encourage folks to consider Munising as a great place to raise a family.

3.) Why do you think voters should choose you? (200 words)

Voters should consider me for a seat on the Munising City Commission because of my past experiences working with communities, I can bring “best practices” of what has worked. Also, I should be considered because of my knowledge, passion and execution for community development projects, My experience is assisting communities in securing funding for projects and understanding the importance of planning for the future and continuing to build relationships between the residents and the city. And, as school enrollments are decreasing, another aspect of my tenure could include working with various entities in developing a strategy, making Munising appealing for younger families to relocate to.

Bob Wilkinson

1.) List a few details of your background you think voters would want to know. (75 words)

After being discharged from the Army I was able to start several different businesses. I have worked in the advertising side of a newspaper, financial industry and more recently in the personal services business working with several banks and financial institutions. I have dealt with budgets and all that comes with fiduciary responsibilities.

2.) What do you think are the most important issues facing the city? (100 words)

Moving forward, the city must continue to implement plans for growth while keeping the “small town feel.” Tourism, of course, is vital. However, we have to keep all citizens and their needs in mind. As a member of the city planning commission, we are in the process of updating the master plan. This is a blueprint for the city’s future and will guide us as we endeavor and meet the ever-increasing challenges ahead.

I believe it is important the city, schools and service organizations along with the Downtown Development Authority to work together.

3.) Why do you think voters should choose you? (200 words)

Twelve years ago, my wife and I moved to Munising. I started and ran a business for about eight years until I retired. I joined the American Legion and Veterans Administration and have volunteered for various service organizations, at the same time joining the Munising Public Schools Board of Education and being appointed to the city planning commission. Our school is as important to our community as the city commission. Our children deserve the best we can provide for them and that includes a safe city.

Taxes are important for all of us and the need to respect our citizens’ wishes is tantamount to the promise of fiscal responsibility. Many challenges lie ahead and need to be met head on. Protecting the ‘feel’ of Munising should be our first priority while continuing to address an ever-changing landscape.