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Get to know mayoral candidate Bob Monetza

Tribune Staff • Jul 22, 2019 at 12:00 PM

Name: Robert J. Monetza

Age: 65

Occupation: Recently retired, I was a facilities engineer at Arconic/Howmet Corporation for over 30 years.

Education: BS Degree in Engineering from Western Michigan University, Associates Degree in Architectural Drafting from Muskegon Business College (now Baker), graduated from Holland High School. I have also completed a variety of training programs related to engineering and public service, including earning a Master Citizen Planner certificate from MSUE and a Michigan Municipal League Level 2 certificate.

Community Involvement: Since we moved to Grand Haven in 1978, I have served roles with the city and the schools, while raising my family and making my home here. I was elected to city council in 2009. In that role, I also serve on the Harbor Transit Board and represent Harbor Transit on the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission (WMSRDC), the region’s MPO. From 2010 to 2016 I served on the Tri-Cities Historical Museum Board, serving as board member, Treasurer, Secretary, and Facilities Committee Chair. I continue to volunteer at the Museum. I served on the Planning Commission from 1999 to 2008, including five years as chairman. During that time, we adopted a Master Plan; completely re-wrote the City’s zoning ordinance; reviewed countless plans and proposals for public and private projects and set the groundwork for the 2010 Master Plan. I learned to run those meetings fairly, thoroughly, within the law and good practice, and with respect for the public. I served as chairman of the City’s Environment and Natural Resource Committee from its inception in 2002 to 2009, contributing to the City’s efforts at conservation and environmental compliance. Since 1998, I have been working with students in the Grand Haven Area Public Schools as a coach for Odyssey of the Mind and Science Olympiad, at both middle school and high school levels, including several trips to National Tournaments; this experience has kept me in touch with the kids, what they need to be successful, both in their learning of skills and their developing maturity. My contact with the kids allows me to pass along knowledge and share my experiences. I have always understood that I learn as much from the kids as they learn from me. In 2002, I was recognized at the Night of 100 Stars for this involvement.

What unique qualities or experiences make you a good candidate for mayor? I spent my career as an engineer in private industry, where I was responsible for designing and implementing capital improvement projects, facilities design, directing contractor projects, and leadership of a crew of UAW skilled tradesmen, and I’ve used that background in my approach to service in the public realm. I use facts and rational thinking to understand problems and reach decisions. I have been involved in training and advocacy, mainly through the Michigan Municipal League, including participation on legislative advisory committees and, on one occasion, testimony before a House committee to promote the interests of Grand Haven. I can and will balance the different and competing aspects of each issue to reach outcomes which serve the long-term benefit of the community.

What do you consider the top issues facing the city, and how would you address them? We are at a crossroads in redevelopment of the community. There are private redevelopment projects, infill projects with public involvement, pressure on parking, and an interest in promoting affordable housing in the form of higher density, presumably lower cost new housing in both commercial and residential neighborhoods. As we go down this path, there must be extensive public engagement. The community will experience change and the character and sense of place will evolve. To the extent that the city adopts new planning regulations, this process must be managed to the benefit of the people of Grand Haven and future generations. There should be no surprises. There are plenty of specific issues requiring our attention: a never-ending infrastructure project list; infill and redevelopment projects, snowballing legacy costs; the safety and stability of neighborhoods, both residential and commercial; protection of our natural and sensitive areas; promoting of a diverse, year-round economy with good jobs and opportunities; determining the future of power generation in Grand Haven. These issues are key to carrying on the business of the city and insuring its future. The city is seeking a sustainable and long-term funding source for infrastructure maintenance, which, if passed by the voters, will allow us to fix and replace infrastructure without incurring new debt or higher millage. The most direct way for the city to promote high quality of life and economic opportunity is to have excellent basic services, in the form streets, utilities, parks, public safety, etc. The city needs to maintain healthy partnerships with the area schools, neighboring communities, and regional authorities, to share costs and benefits of shared services.

What do you consider the city's strengths and how would you build on them? The city has an engaged population and a strong business and manufacturing community with deep roots in the area. The city reflects and acts on the strength of the citizens, to provide for the public health, safety and welfare. The city builds public trust when we welcome, listen to, and attempt to fairly balance the concerns and aspirations of the public in our actions. City staff has exercised strong fiscal responsibility, and has been working hard and creatively, through public works and public safety, to make the city an excellent place to live and work. Staff has been and will continue to be encouraged and strongly supported.

Is there anything you would change in Grand Haven? Why and how? I would like to defuse the natural tensions between competing, but complementary, interests within the community such as tourism vs. residents, east side vs. west side, developers vs. everybody else, and those who perceive preferential treatment to others, real or not. We are all in this together, all are welcome in this process. The city works best if we understand the contribution of and the need for all the parts.

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