Get to know GH City Council candidate Ryan Cummins

Tribune Staff • Jul 26, 2019 at 2:00 PM

Name: Ryan Cummins

Age: 31

Occupation: I work full time as a municipal event planner. I also work part time for the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office.

Education: I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice from Michigan State University. I have also taken multiple courses on planning and zoning fundamentals, and am a member of the Michigan Association of Planning.

Community involvement: I currently serve our community as the Zoning Board of Appeals chairman, a member of the Planning Commission, and as a part-time marine and reserve deputy for the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office.

What unique qualities or experiences make you a good candidate for the council?

Public service is core to who I am as a person. I have a great amount of experience at the local, county and state levels. In addition to my service on Grand Haven commissions and with our Sheriff’s Office, I have previous state government experience that includes over six years of work as a child welfare specialist and manager for the State of Michigan. These positions have allowed me to gain significant experience seeing how government works (and does not work), as well as an understanding of many of the challenges and opportunities we are facing in Grand Haven.

What do you consider the top issues facing the city, and how would you address them?

There are a number of top issues facing Grand Haven, which include the following. I will note the “how” to address them takes more than just a quick paragraph but rather significant research, public feedback and informed decision making. Nonetheless, I will do my best to be succinct.

Board of Light & Power: As the Sims plant is set to be decommissioned in 2020, we have to look at deciding the next steps in a realistic and cost-effective way. This should be done in cooperation with the Board of Light & Power Board. I fully support a BLP that is local and focuses on energy distribution and quick responses during outages. Rather than spending many millions of dollars on a new plant that only supplements the community need, we should look at purchasing power from a variety of other sources that will keep our electricity rates similar or lower. The money saved from investing millions into new power plant infrastructure could then be invested into cleaning up the current Sims plant site and making it viable for commercial and residential investment.

Attainable housing: I am running both to keep Grand Haven prosperous and to make a good life attainable for future generations. I was lucky to buy my home five years ago. I want families, single people, those who work here and all those who for generations have made this city special to all be able to afford living here.

Fiscal responsibility: As a homeowner here, as with many of us, I want to see our tax dollars used effectively. As Grand Haven grows and as property values continue to increase, perhaps it is time to look at ways to actually reduce our tax rate, without cutting the excellent services we have. We may be able to enhance our tax base by carefully increasing density in some areas and in unused commercial areas. It is important to do this in a way that doesn’t change the charm of our community, but in ways that more effectively uses the land we have.

I also think summer parking issues, infrastructure improvements and appropriate zoning updates are also areas of real concern that need to be addressed, as well.

What do you consider the city’s strengths and how would you build on them?

Grand Haven has many strengths that we can be proud of as a community. Our biggest strength is the people who live here and have made Grand Haven a unique place to live. Our town has many unique neighborhoods and districts, and it’s important to maintain each area’s charm and sense of community. Grand Haven also has many great dedicated and diverse businesses, shops and restaurants that need both locals and visitors to support them. Grand Haven has a great history that is easily seen in our historic buildings, but also in the stories many residents share. It is important to not lose sight of our history. Grand Haven also has the greatest public amenities including our beaches, natural features, boardwalk, Musical Fountain, events and festivals.

Is there anything you would change in Grand Haven? Why and how?

Grand Haven has an opportunity to enhance its public engagement with residents. Traditional methods of engagement are still important to maintain. But there is a great amount of opportunity to educate residents as well as gather and utilize public feedback from social media sources. With any changes, issues or policy decisions that arise, I make the following commitment to voters: To listen and learn from people with differing views; as on the commissions on which I currently serve, I will continue to make well-researched, well-informed and well-considered decisions; and to continue to be a consensus builder.

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