Education: B.S. Education, Grand Valley State University; Graduate Studies, Grand Valley State University
Current community involvement: Smith’s Bayou Chili Cookoff, co-chairperson; Four Pointes Center for Successful Aging, chairperson; Tri-Cities Historical Museum, board member; Ottawa County Land Bank Authority, secretary; Ottawa County Community Action Agency, board member; Michigan Association of Mayors, board member; Michigan Women in Municipal Government, past president; 2019 Girls State, speaker.
What unique qualities or experiences make you a good candidate for mayor?
As an educator, I demonstrate the ability to facilitate and utilize problem-solving strategies to effectively process issues and concerns. Additionally, my professional and compassionate leadership approach provides an avenue of best practices to achieve quality results. During my first term as mayor for the City of Ferrysburg, I have initiated new opportunities for our residents such as: annual Cops and Cones, which is a collaboration with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office; annual Fourth of July poster contest; and our annual Arbor Day Celebration. Under my leadership as mayor, City Council approved: city’s first-ever Strategic Plan; live streaming of council meetings; a new upgraded city website providing improved transparency and information about our city, and the information is easily accessible; solar panels at City Hall for renewable energy. (They) are just a few of council’s accomplishments. As co-chairperson of the Smith’s Bayou Chili Cookoff for over 12 years, this community event has donated thousands of dollars to local nonprofit agencies. As mayor, I have been and will continue to be very dedicated to our city, and will continue to move Ferrysburg forward with innovative opportunities.
What do you consider the top issue facing the city?
Closure of Smith’s Bridge. Smith’s Bridge is a critical thoroughfare for our residents, neighboring communities, police, fire and medical services, as well as area school buses and Harbor Transit. The last traffic study recorded between 5,000 to 6,000 vehicles cross Smith’s Bridge on a daily basis. However, as a result of the April 2019 bridge inspection, City Council voted to close Smith’s Bridge to all vehicular traffic June 2019.
The decision to close Smith’s Bridge was a collective decision of our City Council based on the most recent report which detailed increased deterioration occurring between the fall 2018 inspection and the inspection completed in April 2019. As a result of this deterioration of the bridge, possible injury risks and liability to the city, City Council voted unanimously to close the bridge. As mayor, I have actively participated in conversations with multiple state and federal agencies and continually represent Ferrysburg at numerous regional and state-level organizations seeking assistance with the replacement of Smith’s Bridge. Most recently, Gov. Whitmer was the first governor to ever visit Ferrysburg and had the opportunity to walk Smith’s Bridge. The governor discussed the needs for replacement of Smith’s Bridge with MDOT, state leaders, City Manager Bessinger and me. The city continues to actively apply for grant funding and other viable financial opinions to assist our small community with this multimillion-dollar infrastructure.
What do you consider the city’s strengths and how would you build on them?
The City of Ferrysburg is a true gem in Northwest Ottawa County. Our 3-square-mile peninsula and our abundant green spaces illustrate the unique qualities of Ferrysburg. The City of Ferrysburg is a wonderful place to live, work and play. I will continue to seek innovative opportunities to ensure Ferrysburg’s unique small-town community will be preserved for future generations to enjoy.
Is there anything you would change in Ferrysburg? Why and how?
I will continue to encourage residents to become involved with our community events, activities and volunteering to serve our community through various boards and opportunities. Ferrysburg is the true gem of Northwest Ottawa County.