2010-04-10 / Top News

Voters To Select Two City Councilmen From Candidates Horn, Wightman, Barnwell

By Karen Gould

Armand “Smi” Horn Armand “Smi” Horn Three candidates will vie for two seats on the Mackinac Island City Council in the city election Tuesday, May 4. Armand “Smi” Horn and Dan Wightman are seeking reelection and are challenged by Sam Barnwell. The top two vote-getters will win the seats.

Council terms are for three years and council members are paid $35 for each council meeting they attend. They are not paid for committee meetings.

Several issues are being discussed by the council. Property values are dropping, reducing tax revenue that the city uses to operate most of its services. Taxable values are projected to continue to drop in the coming year, and the city council will have to cut costs or raise taxes.

The city council is scheduled to meet with the Board of Public Works (BPW), Friday April 30, to discuss operations and finances. Some council members are concerned that a temporary one-mill levy is likely to be continued, and the city may also increase user rates in 2011 to help pay for a $4 million renovation of the wastewater treatment plant. Looming on the horizon is whether the city will expand the plant, which is near capacity, to allow more development on the Island.

Dan Wightman Dan Wightman The Island's National Historic Landmark status continues to scrutinized in Washington, as the city loses its historic structures to development. A grassroots group, Save Our Island, will be meeting with the city council Wednesday, May 5, to discuss the proposed demolition of McNally Cottage scheduled for this fall and historic preservation on the Island.

Last month, the city's building inspector said the building that once held the opera house needs additional work to brace a parapet and suggested the city consider hiring an independent engineer to examine the structure, which is pitching forward about six inches at the top. A front window with rotty caulk nearly fell out last May, and the structure's owner lives in New York. The city council has yet to discuss the issue or take action.

Sam Barnwell Sam Barnwell In October 2009, the city adopted a local Historic District Ordinance. Since its adoption, the committee that created the document has not had a meeting to discuss any plans.

The Mackinac Island Town Crier asked candidates to talk about why they want to serve the community on the city council.

Sam Barnwell

Challenger Sam Barnwell is a paramedic and firefighter. He is an evening operations manager at Hotel Iroquois and owner of Mackinac Outfitter and Marine Supply on Main Street. He is making his third bid for a council seat.

His family includes his mother, Becki Barnwell, his grandmother, Margaret McIntire, and three brothers Jack, Emory, and Will. Mr. Barnwell is engaged to Lisa Wilson.

He has an associate's degree in culinary arts from Grand Rapids Community College, an aAssociate's degree in emergency management from Baker College, and Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the University of Denver .

Mr. Barnwell gave written responses to the following questions:

Why are you running for office?

I want to bring new ideas and energy to the Mackinac Island City government. With financial responsibility and community involvement, we can come together and provide a city government that supports a strong, historic, local community.

What skills do you bring to council?

I would bring added energy and a new perspective to the Mackinac Island City Council. I am an energetic entrepreneur who cares deeply about the future of Mackinac Island. I bring an understanding of how the world has changed and a desire to find ways to incorporate change with long-standing traditions and historical beauty of the Mackinac lifestyle.

What do you see as the two major issues facing the community?

We currently face many challenges within our community. Balancing the need for increased visitor traffic with the need to preserve our heritage and historical status is very important. The historical nature of Mackinac is what makes us unique and popular as a tourism destination. We need to preserve our history in order to maintain the tourism industry our community needs. We also need to provide for the tourism industry as well. Clean streets, public bathrooms, and a safe family atmosphere are important to incorporate into the historical charm of the island.

If the city needs to make cuts, what services are important to keep?

Mackinac Island city budget needs not be cut, but to be reviewed and departments made to operate more efficiently. Long-standing beliefs about what it cost to accomplish a certain task need to be reviewed. This last economic downturn taught all businesses to find ways to become more efficient. The businesses that survived learned that cutting cost is important, but equally important is providing the best customer service and experience to all stakeholders. Before the city continues to cut cost, it needs to reevaluate all past practices and strive to reduce the bottom line while providing a better experience to our citizens and visitors.

What do you hope to see coming out of the Master Plan?

No response.

What ways do you see getting people involved in municipal government?

We need more people involved in municipal government. In order for people to be involved they must be notified and knowledgeable about what is going on within the city government. The city has not changed as many of our lives have, with the popularity of email, the Internet, and social media, such as Facebook. Using this new media can help provide a very low cost solution to informing people about upcoming meetings and issues involving the city. Mackinac Island has more people that care about their city than any other city in the world. Unfortunately, the city has shown poor past practices when communicating with the public. The citizens of Mackinac Island have the passion to be involved. All they need is efficient communication form the city to get them more involved.

Armand “Smi” Horn

Incumbent Smi Horn was born and grew up Mackinac Island. He attended Thomas W. Ferry School on the Island through the 11th grade. He and his wife, Shirley “Mickey” (nee LaPine), have raised seven children and all attended the Mackinac Island Public School. Since 1948, Mr. Horn has been employed by Mackinac Island Carriage Tours.

Mr. Horn submitted his answers in writing.

Why are you running for office?

My grandfather, Edward Horn, who was mayor a couple of years and alderman for a number of years, always said, 'If you are going to live in a community, you should try and give something to your community.' So I am still trying to do what I can for my friends and neighbors.

What skills do you bring to council?

Mr. Horn has been a city council member for 24 years and is seeking his ninth term in office. Over the years he has served on a variety of community projects. He has been on the Mackinac Island Board of Eduction, Mackinac County Economic Development Commission. When possible, he attends meetings of the Mackinac County Commission and Mackinac Island State Park Commission. Mr. Horn also has served on the library and medical boards. Currently is on on the Cemetery Board.

As an Alderman, he is Mayor Pro Tempore and also serves on several city committees, including Public Safety, Ordinance, Finance, Public Grounds and Buildings, and Streets and Sidewalks.

What do you see as the two major issues facing the community?

The city is facing job loss and revenue loss.

If the city needs to make cuts, what services are important to keep?

The city has been making cuts for some time. All the services that we have are very important to keep and are being looked at all the time.

What do you hope to see coming out of the Master Plan?

Direction for future zoning.

What ways do you see getting people involved in municipal government?

I am not sure how to answer this, but I started out volunteering and attending public meetings.

Dan Wightman

Incumbent Dan Wightman grew up on Mackinac Island and was in the first class to go from kindergarten through 12th grade in the present school building. He and his wife, Kathi, have two daughters, Jennifer and Danielle, both graduates from the Island school.

He is a foreman for Edison Sault Electric Company.

Mr. Wightman gave verbal responses to the questions.

Why are you running for office?

Mackinac Island provides the quality of life that I want for my family, and I wants to give back to the town.

I think that everybody needs to put something back into the community. I feel very strongly about the history of this Island and the people.

What skills do you bring to council?

Mr. Wightman has been an alderman for six years and completing his second term in office. As an alderman, Mr. Wightman serves on several city committees, including Ordinance, Public Grounds and Buildings, Compost/Solid Waste, Chamber of Commerce and Island Activities, and Medical, Fly Control, Public Health.

He represents the city on the Hubbard's Annex Study Committee.

He is a member of the Planning Commission and Master Plan Committee. He is co-chairman of the Mackinac Community Stable Committee for the Mackinac Island Horsemen's Association.

Mr. Wightman has been a captain on the fire department for more than 15 years and has been a member of the squad for nearly 30 years.

His 55 years on the Island and his involvement within the community and its projects is helpful when considering issues facing the city, he said.

What do you see as the two major issues facing the community?

The challenges the city faces are constantly changing and the falling property assessments impact city revenue.

The city's budget is another way of saying city services. What if a quarter or a fifth of the budget wasn't there? What do you want to do without? The immediate response is nothing. We need to do more. If the budget is a fifth or a quarter less, something has to go.

If the city needs to make cuts, what services are important to keep?

When you're talking about the city, you're talking about police, fire, and we pay a subsidy to keep Allied EMS here, streets, public restrooms. You take a quick look around and what of those services don't you want?”

Safety services should be maintained.

The Island has gone from a nurse, who handled all medical problems, to an ambulance service and Medical Center with a doctor on staff, a fire department to help save homes and lives, city workers to maintain streets, and police to handle issues, including speeding snowmobilers.

We've got to count on the people that are here, and now we've built this place up to the point that we've just got some extremely talented people that are well grounded with how things work on an Island. Do we want to see any of that revert back?

What do you hope to see coming out of the Master Plan?

I am pleased with the new direction the city is taking, having hired Fran Brink to help complete the plan. Once finalized, the plan will assist the city with its zoning ordinances.

What ways do you see getting people involved in municipal government?

People tend to get involved in government on specific issues. Keeping their interest in other issues is a difficult task. Unless people have an interest in community government, it is difficult to get them involved.

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