Ludington mayoral candidate Dustman running to ‘straighten the city out.’

October 31, 2018

Bill Dustman

Ludington mayoral candidate Dustman running to ‘straighten the city out.’


By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

Bill Dustman and Steve Miller are the two candidates running for mayor of Ludington, replacing Kaye Holman, who will be retiring at the end of this year. The mayoral election will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 6 during the General Election. The position is elected on a four-year term with the responsibility of leading the city council meetings, appointing committees, and establishing a vision and goals for the city. The mayor is not allowed to vote, except in the case of a tie, and the mayor has no authority to hire or fire personnel, or to make any other day-to-day operating decisions on how the city is operated; that is the responsibility of the appointed city manager and the elected clerk and treasurer. This story features candidate Dustman.

LUDINGTON — Bill Dustman moved from the Kalamazoo area to Ludington 16 years ago. He said he came here to retire and go fishing. Dustman said he served in the US Marine Corps during the Vietnam War with the rank of captain. He said he holds five engineering degrees, owned several businesses throughout his career, served as a firefighter, and attended law school.

When asked why he wants to be the next Ludington mayor he responded: “to straighten the city out. Teach them how to plow snow. Fix the roads. Teach them to pay attention to the people instead of the tourists. It’s just unbelievable, they are moving pedophiles in across from five little kids in the old Salvation Army building… Our taxpayers are paying for it. We weren’t told about it. We don’t want them. I spent about 45 minutes on the phone with the Attorney General and all I got was ‘go see an attorney.’ I said the attorneys are all in the city’s pocket. They don’t want to go against the city. They will get in trouble. I’ve called three in Big Rapids and they won’t even come to Mason, Manistee, or Benzie counties. They just won’t come. I’m working. Going further.” (laughs).

Mason County currently faces a housing shortage. As the county seat, and the largest municipality in the county, the city of Ludington has placed the topic as one of its top priorities. Here is what Dustman had to say when asked, as mayor, how he would address affordable housing:

“No one wants the four story buildings. I counted this morning, we have 11 empty office spaces right now. We don’t need any more. If they want low cost housing, it’s not going to be low costs. Our tax dollars are going to pay for it. The city attorney shouldn’t even be there. His law firm is the law firm that represents the construction company (he said referring to the development at the old bowling alley property). I went to Wayne, I went to Cooley and I went to Commonwealth Law and I can’t believe that they are even letting this happen.

“This crazy 45 degree parking out here (referring to the recently change in parking direction on Loomis Street between Rath Avenue and James Street), it’s an accident waiting to happen. It’s not a matter of if but when. And, our fearless law enforcement said there isn’t any accidents since we did this. It’s only been three weeks (the parking angle was changed in the third week of September), wait until the tourists arrive. Scottville is going to eliminate its parking for that reason.” (Fact check: Scottville actually recently re-configured its downtown angle parking to 45 degrees from approximately 60 degrees).

“The ordinance that they passed for rental inspections raised the rent around town $100 more. (Fact check: the increase means that the maximum any property owner would be required to pay is $70, or $1.94 per month). It’s unlawful. The Southwestern District Appellant Court says it’s unlawful. (Dustman is referring to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Western Division which opined in its case of Baker vs. City of Portsmouth, Ohio. The court ruled that how the city was carrying out its inspection program was, in part, unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The ruling does not say, though, that rental inspections are unconstitutional. Some of the case actually makes references within the opinion clearly supports the right of cities to inspect.)

“There’s nothing downtown for these people. This is what they are touting. If you want to put low income housing, it should go where they just built all the storage units there on PM (Pere Marquette Highway, in Pere Marquette Township, outside of the city of Ludington). They can walk to the store. They can walk to McDonald’s and Burger King.”

When MCP again asked what opportunities there are for affordable housing within the city limits, since that is within the mayor’s jurisdiction, Dustman responded “There’s not much you can do. They refuse to rescind the law. Most of the rental property here is up for sale. Last Monday, or was it this Monday, they jacked the price up for inspections. They jacked the price up for transfer. People can’t afford it. I counted 23 houses that are empty. People can’t afford $950  month. Guys need to have $950 a month just to break even.

“Until they learn you can’t come in and tell me how to live, that’s the Constitution. The right to privacy. They don’t care about that. Until we get rid of that, leave people alone. You can’t come in and tell me how to live. That’s the Constitution. Let them clean their place up. You don’t have to go in and threaten them. I’ve been threatened by the city. They came and mowed my lawn once. They came on private property.”

Ironically, Dustman said he is against the development of an event center on private property on South Rath Avenue.

“We have somebody from Indiana, they are building a three-story building. You can’t see the Badger now. They’ve got the roof up. You can’t see the Badger. There’s all kinds of people with their children down there just about every night in the summer watching the Badger come in.”

When asked what the city’s responsibility is to stop construction of a project on private property that fits within the zoning ordinance, Dustman responded: “So you don’t give them a permit to build. It’s that simple. It’s very very easy. They violated because they had to change in order to get the pedophiles in down there on Melendy. No one heard about it. I’ve already talked to the Attorney General. We are working on it. Just like everything else, you can get arrested, 30 seconds, and it takes three years to get it straightened out, and they know that and the city will run.”

Dustman acknowledged that the mayor does not have the authority to make decisions about local ordinances but rather that is the responsible of the councilors.

“I tried to get people to run for council. Not interested. They don’t want to get involved. They are afraid of repercussions. If you are one of the few and they like you, you can put your signs anywhere you want. They came and took my signs down. They didn’t do it. They emailed the chairman of the Republican committee up here to come and take the sign down…

“Elect me mayor and I’ll be open any time. We will meet and talk, write down your problem and take of it. The only problem is the council has to vote on some of it. If we don’t get the right people on the council then we will have to go to court. I’m never afraid to go to court. My wife used to tell me, ‘you’re always in court.’ Yeah, that’s right. Have I lost yet? She says ‘OK.’ When I start losing we’ll talk about it.”

When asked about economic development, Dustman responded:

“I don’t know where you could put any businesses here except on Dowland. The old furniture factory is sitting there doing nothing. From talking to different people, two different businesses tried to get here. This wasn’t even in the city, just the area. They are dictating how much they can pay an hour because they didn’t want the companies that were already here having to raise their prices to pay people, so they lost that industry. Not very smart.

“Who cares about the tourists? They are here for a week.”

When asked if there was anything good about Ludington, Dustman responded:

“Yeah. We’ve got the lake, most of the people and city hall is the problem.”

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