Posted on 23 October 2014.
There are seven people running for four seats on the Cedar Springs City Council. This year’s ballot will look a little different, however. It is the first election under the new law dealing with recalls. There will be three people vying for two seats, and then the two candidates facing recall, Patricia Troost and Ashley Bremmer, are each running against another opponent. The voter simply votes for one or the other.
Running for two seats:
Mark Fankhauser was appointed to finish out another councilor’s term in 2012, and is now up for election. He has served as mayor for the last year, and is seeking reelection to continue serving the people of Cedar Springs. Fankhauser has lived in the district 33 years, and is a Captain-EMS Coordinator for the Grand Rapids Fire Department.
The Post asked, what previous experience/skills do you have that you could use in this office? He said he has attended multiple Michigan Municipal League Conferences, which are designed to educate public officials. He has also served on the Board of Directors for the Rockford Community Credit Union for the last 14 years. He has also been active with the Labor movement, holding several officer positions within the organizations he has worked for.
Fankhauser feels the most important issue facing the City of Cedar Springs is proactive improvement of the infrastructure, which protects the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Cedar Springs.
The accomplishments he is most proud of in his term on the Council are: First, seeing a dynamic re-purpose of the property at 95 N. Main Street, now the future home of the Cedar Springs Brewing Company. This was once a vacated building/lot in need; now a unique business that will complement the other businesses within Cedar Springs. Second, would be the recent transition to the Kent County Sheriff Department providing police service. Albeit unique changes, yes; these changes were based on facts, not opinions or emotions.
Perry Hopkins has lived in Cedar Springs since 2010. He is a naturopath, therapeutic body work practitioner, Dr of Metaphysics, and owner/operator of Kin of Hope Natural Health & Perry’s Place llc for herbs, teas, and more…!
The Post asked what previous experience or skills could he use in office? He is involved with multiple boards/ committees in the Cedar Springs community, including a trustee on the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, a trustee on the Kent Theatre Board, the Community Action Network Board, Cedar Springs Planning Commission, and Chairman of the Cedar Springs DDA. He also serves on various event committees in Cedar Springs. He said he is most proud of being a part of the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce and bringing more events and happenings to the Cedar Spring Community.
Hopkins said he was prompted to run for office when he noticed there was a shortage of nonbiased citizens running for city council.
Hopkins feels the most important issue facing our district is being divided. “As a community we need to work together and help the community as one entity grow and become strongly united. The only way to make this happen is to work with every person, business, committee, board, group, or organization that has the community’s best interest in mind,” he said.
Pamela Conley has lived in Cedar Springs 15 years. She is a teacher and coach at Forest Hills Central High School. The previous skills and experience she brings include one term on the City Council, as well as terms on the Cedar Springs Board of Education, Cedar Springs Library board, PTO Board of directors, and the Cedar Springs Garden Club.
Conley said she is running for office again because she feels a strong responsibility that citizens need to participate in local government, and she was asked by a large number of neighbors and fellow citizens to seek another seat.
What does she think is the most important issue facing the community? “We have the perception that the local citizens are not being including in the decision-making process in our community. Decisions about the image of the community as well as the control of and management of Skinner Field have been made with little or no opportunity for input from the citizens.”
What was she most proud of accomplishing while on council previously? “During my term on the council we established Veteran’s Memorial Park and made substantive improvements to the water/sewer system,” she said.
Running for one seat:
Ashley Bremmer, one of the council members named in the recall, is running for her seat. She has lived in Cedar Springs 9-1/2 years. Previous experience/skills include serving on the Council since 2011, and serving on the planning commission prior to that.
Bremmer said she initially decided to serve on council because a member resigned and there was a seat that needed to be filled for the remainder of that term. “I decided to apply and I was the only applicant. That November I ran, unopposed, for the election. I decided to be on city council because I wanted to see the direction of where the city was going, be a part of the positive changes for the city, and make sure that the city was a good and safe place to raise my family. I had no, and still have no hidden agenda to be on city council. I take each issue as it comes, and try to make the best decision at the time, for the city.”
Bremmer says there are many important issues facing the city. “We have a tight budget, the streets and sidewalks need work, we have a new contract with Kent County Sheriffs Department that are all important. I think the really important issues that are facing the city are being sidetracked by personal agendas, hidden motives, hurt feelings, and people that are making a mockery of our council and city.”
There are several things Bremmer is proud of accomplishing while serving, including the bathrooms at the staging area, the Cedar Springs Brewery coming to town, and the sidewalks that did get replaced. What she is personally proud of is “representing my city and the council in a respectful and dignified manner. I have not lashed out when lies were spread, the council became divided and even took part in recalling me. I have been present for council meetings when there were tough decisions to be made. And most importantly, I respected the diversity of our council, without trying to influence them or use outside sources to get my way.”
Molly Nixon is running against Ashley Bremmer. She graduated from Cedar Springs High School in 2001, and moved back to Cedar Springs in 2008. She is living in a home her family built in the 1800s, and that she grew up in. She is a Central Station Dispatcher at EPS Security, and a nursing student at Grand Rapids Community College. She says that her interactions with the general public through her employers for the last 15 years have given her skills she can use on the council. “I have learned to keep my professionalism and hear what is being said in the face of anger, fear, and character attacks. I bring a civility that the council has lacked at times. In the event that I do not persuade other council members to see things my way we are still neighbors, and we will leave the meeting respecting each other. I believe that facts, not people, are up for discussion.”
What prompted Nixon to run for Council? “I have been in support of coming to an arrangement with the Red Flannel Festival since it was first an issue. In the time that I have been engaged with the political process, I have noticed that the council operated on pride and secrecy. Calling closed meetings in situations that are questionable at best. They also rely too heavily on attorney client privilege. In sorting through the council documents I found property bought by the city for no reason other than it was a good deal, decisions against the express wishes of residents, placing restrictions on parking vehicles on private property, and property that was bought with the purpose of building a new library left vacant for reasons that I still do not fully understand. Some of these issues have been resolved, but that is only because the public has been voting in council members who are accountable.”
Nixon thinks the most pressing problem is that City Hall is “a place of secret meetings and make it up as you go rules.” But she sees another problem as well. “I also seek to reclaim Cedar Springs as my home. It always was, and always will be Red Flannel Town, USA. I want to put that back on every street corner of this town. The personal pride of a few people alone erased that. Feelings were hurt and the discussion was ended prematurely to suit the personal comfort of the city officials involved.”
Running for one seat:
Patricia Troost one of the council members named in the recall, is running for her seat. She is currently serving as Mayor Pro-Tem. She has lived in Cedar Springs for five years, and is a Paralegal, at Reisinger Law Firm, PLLC . She said that skills and experience she brings to council include, “Research knowledge and being able to look at both sides of an issue and not holding a grudge if I don’t agree or if there are different of opinions.”
What prompted her to run for office? “The code ordinance officer came to my home and told me I couldn’t park in my driveway- front of my garage as my drive-way was gravel at the time with weeds/grass growing and according to the ordinance that was considered my lawn. I asked who made up this stupid rule and was told the planning commission and then City Council made the final ruling and I stated that I needed to run for city council then.”
What does she believe is the most important issue facing the community? “A lot of our residents are still trying to recover from the recession and meeting basic needs. I believe that we as a community can come together and help each other where we can and not just me it’s an US. There are resources that residents may not know about and we as leaders can assist in getting them.” She is working with The City of Cedar Springs Area Chamber and North Kent Community Services with their Seats and Feet’s Campaign (and personal items). They are collecting underwear, pajamas, socks and items you cannot get with a food stamps card with drop offs of donated items at various businesses. “The Chamber and business owners care about Cedar Springs and are here 365 days a year and I think it is great how they have agreed wholeheartedly to help me promote this campaign, as well as with North Kent Community Services…they are a great resource.”
Troost said she is most proud of when a young Eagle Scout came to City Council with a plan and idea for a new pavilion at Morley Park and asked if the City would partner with him. “It was amazing to see this young man wanting to give back to his community at such a young age and I believe that my fellow council members and I encouraged young Kevin to look outwards at others and see a need and that if we all work together we can make a difference and that he carries that with him as he grows up and continues it as well and passes it on.”
Rose Powell is running against Patricia Troost. Powell has lived in the City of Cedar Springs since November 1970, and has been a registered voter since 1971. She is recently retired. She graduated from Cedar Springs High School, as did her husband Chris, and their children, Gina, Brynadette, and Christopher. Powell said that previous experience includes serving on the Cedar Springs board of elections, DDA, planning commission, Chamber of commerce, and being a Rotarian. She was also a downtown business owner, and also employed as an office manager/sales person for 2 other Cedar Springs businesses.
Powell is running for council because: “I decided to get involved again, when I realized our City council voted to take down our Cedar Springs City flag and destroy it. I trusted our councilors to do what was right for the citizens, tax payers, and voters of Cedar Springs and surrounding community. The destruction of $4000.00+ of our people’s property, paying a law firm $11,000 to defend those actions, while telling us it was for the good of our city was appalling. After spending many…many hours studying CS. city Budget, I came to one conclusion. There’s something rotten in Red Flannel Town.”
Powell says her goal is, with the help of fellow citizens, to “guide our CS City policies, finances, and reputation in a positive direction. There will always be problems to solve. Together our community can do it, and do it well.”