Mayoral candidates answer audience questions

July 16, 2013
From left: Cox, Engblade, Kosla, Taranko.

From left: Cox, Engblade, Kosla, Taranko.

By Lisa Enos. MCP Correspondent.

LUDINGTON – The following are some of the questions asked by audience members during the mayoral candidates forum:

Q: Recently a plan to have a section of Ludington designated as a Historic District failed: Would you support this on private or public property?

Kosla : The historic district was going to impose a lot of regulations on people within that district and violating their property rights.

Cox: As for non-private, I’m in support of it. I’m a history teacher, history is good.

Taranko : I spent quite a few years in the Coast Guard. “We have such a rich cultural history. As far as the historical society I would like to see them designated.

Engblade: I was against the historic district because it does cost the property owner money. I would support others that are on city property.

Q: A current ordinance does not allow property owners the right to rent out their homes as a vacation home.

Engblade: I can remember that coming up to the commission a long time ago. I think the property owners should have a right to rent it out as long as we don’t have a problem with that property.

Cox: I’m familiar with vacation rentals. We have one that we rent out weekly. It hasn’t been an issue. I feel that people should be able to use their property as they want, with limitations and guidelines. We should have to screen the people who are going to be in your home and there needs to be more of a screening process.

Taranko: I do recall why the ordinance was put in. Yes the people who want to rent out property have rights but so do their neighbors have rights, too.

Q: Does Ludington cater to tourists? We have the top beach, top state park, and it’s the number 3 tourist destination in the state. How do Ludington residents benefit from this large influx of tourism? If elected Mayor what will you do for the residents?

Engblade: What isn’t the city of Ludington doing for its residents? I really feel that the city of Ludington does respond to its citizens. They pick up garbage, plow my streets,

Kosla: In general I agree with that statement. Tourism is a big boon to our economy. Tourism here provide a lot of jobs to a lot of people. In short, putting up fences and road blocks to people who want to visit? Maybe they’ll want to come live here some day. Who sees the money? Anyone who owns a business that receives money from tourists. Restaurants, hotel rooms. I think it’s great that so many people want to come visit the city.

Taranko: Look around you. This is tourism. Three marinas, condos. These people pay taxes. Could this town survive without tourism? Not in its present state of industry. Tourism is a tremendous tax base.

Cox: Look around, this beautiful venue isn’t just built for tourists. Get out and enjoy our area. We’re not telling you to stay home. Go out and enjoy it as well. Does it get more crowded at certain times? Yes. But as someone who lived somewhere else, it’s hard to stay away from this.

Q: As someone who doesn’t live downtown or on Ludington Avenue…Do you have any plans or events to have in neighborhoods?

Cox: There are ways to do it thru meetings wards, with the city councilors. I think that’s available here, we just need to reach for it.

Taranko: First off we have to remember how these events are financed. A lot are financed thru the DDA specific . In neighborhoods, you inconvenience people who live there. We would have to work with the residents maybe to raise the funds. The city can’t afford it.

Dave: If there’s a group of people who want to have an event in their neighborhood and can fund it, then let them put it on and work with the city to do that.

Pete: We’ve had block parties in the past. Pomorski’s used to give a block party and sometimes groups would called the Police Department and ask if they could block off the streets. Maybe schedule sled rides in Cartier Park, something for special for Christmas, leading up to the ball drop.

Q: Pete and Wally: If one of you is elected mayor, how do you get the young talent involved.

Taranko: We have committees empty. I would become a recruiter. We need not just youth, we need experience and we need a mixture.

Engblade: We have a lot of vacancies on those committees. A lot of younger people run into problems because they have jobs, the older people have the time but maybe not the transportation.

Ryan and Dave, if elected:
Q: Experience: How do you gain experience?

Cox: as far as gaining experience, working with government, government is working with people, I work with 150 sixth-eighth graders every day. I have a lot of experience working with people and with retail. When I’m focussed on something that I’m going to dive into, I’m going to learn exactly the ins and outs. I’ve got a ton of people out there that I know of that are just waiting for someone to ask them. I’m not scared to go out there and ask them to get involved.

Kosla: this town was on its way to becoming a retirement community. I met a lot of people my age and a lot of people have come back here because it’s where they want to stay. My platform is of community involvement in general. I think the city’s website needs to be overhauled and it needs to work with the local media.

Q: We have a sizable pool of talented young people and retiring baby boomers. How will you integrate the two?

Taranko: Young people have a set of ideas and think more progressively. You need a mixture. Older people don’t want to jump into cement in case it dries too quickly.

Kosla: I think people put a little too much emphasis on age or youth. Everyone is experienced at something and can give a fresh perspective.

Engblade: it’s a brainstorming of the groups to one another. The older people have more experience. Younger people are aggressive. They are impulsive.

Cox: There’s a difference between age and maturity. Mix young people with the old people We need to look at ways to improve and bring youth to the area and get it activated.

Q: Mayor John Henderson came up with the New Year’s Eve ball drop and skate park and shared that he came up with those ideas from travels. How do you plan to bring new, fresh ideas to the community?

Engblade: Work with the chamber, people, citizens. Find out, what are other communities doing to get people involved?

Kosla: Take ideas from other cities.

Taranko: My openness to that, when your (Kathy McLean’s) predecessor came to me with the idea of the Gus Macker tournament and said we want to bring 1500 teens here and I said, ‘What?’ The people of the community are the boss and we are the ones that serve. It’s not just up the mayor to come up with the ideas. They need to be receptive.

Cox: we have a lot of different assets that we could do here

Q: Chamber works closely with the city and collaborate a lot: If you’re elected mayor and do you plan to continue?

Wally: I’d continue and it’s imperative that we find new collaborations. Not just in tourism, but the way we do things in inter-governemnt. County housing with HUD and the county pays us and that gives us revenue. Pentwater sewage project. The mayor’s most important job is to listen to people and work together with other groups.

Cox: It’s important for the city and outlying county. Keeping that strong relationship is key in benefiting Ludington. There are ways we can build on that relationship with different events.

Kosla: This iinvolves not only keeping lines of communication open, intergovernmental, private organizations. All about communication and keeping lines open.

Engblade: It goes on every day in the city of Ludington that every day there are meetings. That’s what makes Ludington a good place – the nice thing is not only the cooperation between the commissioners, but with Ludington , the County and Pere Marquette township.

Q to Engblade only: In early 2002 you were vocal about getting competitive bids. This ended up causing the city $100,000 more.

Engblade: About 4 years down the road the new contract went into effect and we worked out a better 12-year contract.

Q: Should all contracts be open to competitive bids?

Cox: It’s hard to give a blanket answer. I believe that competitive bidding is hugely wonderful thing and that the city will benefit from bidding jobs out. I think that local businesses pay local taxes that help fund what we’ve got.

Taranko: Bidding is the optimal way to go but its not always practical. When we open up a street an replace sewer and water lines. But when they get in there and the sewer is 24 foot down and they find another problem are we going to bid it out again? Practicality.

Kosla: We need to get accurate info out to people. When things like that happen, we need to get the info out to people how and why it happened.

Engblade: We took that bid issue further down. If they’re doing a good job and the city is satisfied, there’s an option to renew it. I don’t know if it was $100,000. In the long run, it saved money.

Q: Any city services you would eliminate?

Engblade, Cox, Taranko and Kosla: No.

Q: It’s the Mayor’s job to appoint committee members. Qualities you’ll look for in committee appointments?

Cox: One: is that person energetic and motivated and what’s their reason / agenda and do their goals match our long term goals of the city?

Pete: the appointments are very important

Dave: They need to be principled. Are they going to sway things as to what a special interest group wants or do what the people of the city want?

Taranko: The City Council votes. The appointments are only giving a recommendation. Do they have expertise? You have to look at their qualifications.

Q: What do you believe the role of mayor in the city government where a city manager exists? Can the mayor make decisions?

Taranko: The mayor’s role is to make the appointments. This is the most important thing, they have to be ratified. They appoint the City Manager, Chief of Police. The Mayor is a communicator for the City of Ludington. He has to be a visionary and a team builder. Get the people who are showing up at the city meetings. There are regulars who show up but we’re not making use of those people.

Cox: Appointments of committee managers. Being a cheerleader is part of it. You’ve got to be a cheerleader. You’ve got to find people to shed a positive light on Ludington.

Engblade: The Mayor oversees the leadership of the city. It’s a visionary leadership position.

Kosla: The mayor is really the one person people look to for answers, being involved with the people of Ludington is most important.

Q: What do you like about Ludington? What would you change?

Kosla: Our location. We really do have one of the best beaches in the world. It’s beautiful. That includes the people. The events that take place. I’d like to see not so many empty buildings.

Engblade: Beach and Lake Michigan and what leads up to it the corridor. The campgrounds and lakes. What I’d like to see more of: a few more car ferries, and a few more industries.

Cox: I’m going to take notice of the beaches, campgrounds, beautiful parks, it’s gorgeous. It’s pure ichigan it’s Pure Ludington. We got off from Ludington Avenue, everything was run down and empty. I want to see more development off the main road.

Taranko: I love the proximity to the water. Put me on a boat and in the water. The community pride. How much money was shelled out for the culture and the statues, between that; the generosity. What I would like to change is to bring in high tech jobs with decent pay so that people can earn money here to send their kids to college.

I see a couple of edits already. Instaad of Kosla, I wrote “Dave:” toward the end. And for some reason “ichigan” not Michigan is in there. YOu want my recommendation?

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