Ludington mayor candidate profile: Steve Miller

June 6, 2022

Steve Miller

Ludington mayor candidate profile: Steve Miller

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

LUDINGTON — Residents of the City of Ludington will vote for mayor during the Nov. 8, 2022 General Election. The Ludington mayor serves a four year term and is allowed to serve three consecutive terms. The term begins on Jan. 1. Ludington’s form of government is council-manager, meaning the city manager, not the mayor, is the chief executive of the city, appointed by the council. The mayor, instead, helps guide the council and presides over city council, which is comprised of six councilors who each represent one of the six city wards and a councilor-at-large. The mayor is only allowed to vote in the case of a tie vote. The mayor also appoints councilors to committees, decides who will chair those committees. The mayor also recommends appointment of citizens to various city commissions and committees, with the approval of the council.  

This year, there are two candidates for the mayor seat, incumbent Steve Miller and former Ludington Police Chief Mark Barnett. MCP has interviewed both candidates and is presenting their interviews separately, beginning with Miller. 

Miller’s family moved to Ludington in the 1960s when his father got a job at Dow Chemical. After graduating from Ludington High School, he moved away to attend college at University of Michigan, then settling in the Ann Arbor area. He said he spent most of his career working in the restaurant and lodging industry in southeastern Michigan. After retiring, he moved back to Mason County and started working in radio sales and sports broadcasting.

Miller was elected to his first term as mayor in 2018, replacing Kay Holman, who chose to not seek re-election. He took office Jan. 1, 2019.

“I came into the position rather inexperienced,” he said. “The learning curve was pretty high. I’ve been dedicated to my responsibility, during council meetings, to maintain a specific order so there was no confusion at vote time. I wanted to maintain a proper decorum during the meetings. I am really proud of how those meetings have run.”

Miller said that he has been proud to have actively lobbied Ludington Mass Transit Authority to provide service to the US 10 corridor in Amber Township. “This was a concern, especially with senior citizens, during my 2018 campaign. We worked really hard with Dick Collins (former director of LMTA), Paul Keson (current director of LMTA) and Jim Gallie (Amber Township supervisor) to get service to that area.” 

One of the roles of mayor is to appoint citizens to serve on city boards, such as the Mason County District Library Board, recreation board, planning commission, among others. 

“Ludington is more diverse today than it was in my first year. There are now more women and young people on these boards. If we are looking forward to the future we have to have fresh ideas.”

During Miller’s first few months of his term, city council hired a new city manager, Mitch Foster. Since that time, the city has also hired a new police chief, Timothy Kozal, and a new city attorney, Ross Hammersley of Olson, Bzdok & Howard PC (city manager and city attorney are appointed by city council while the police chief is appointed by the city manager). 

“All three of those individuals have done a good job in accepting those responsibilities. They’ve each been very professional and I’m pleased with the way they have approached the change in Ludington.” 

Miller said he is also excited to see the development of the newly created Brownfield Authority board and the cooperation in the establishment of that board with the City of Scottville and Pere Marquette Charter Township. 

One of the topics that will be on top of the council’s agenda the remainder of the year is likely the decision to change the city’s marijuana facilities ordinance. Currently, the city’s ordinance bans marijuana facilities. Last month, the council voted to appoint an ad-hoc committee to begin looking at the topic. This is the second time in Miller’s term that such a committee has been formed. 

Last month, Scottville City Commission passed a resolution allowing marijuana facilities — both recreational and medical — within certain zones of its city limits.

Miller said he sees his role in the marijuana topic, just like other topics, is to lead the discussion and trying to remain objective. 

“I will offer input,” he said. “I have learned over the last three years to speak last and to get the council through difficult issues. I try not to make a point to lobby and never put any pressure on anyone.”

Miller said he also would like to see the Downtown Development Authority get back to its pre-pandemic status. 

“The mayor sits on the DDA (Downtown Development Authority) and its executive board. COVID took almost all the wind out of the DDA with all of the changes and restrictions. Many of the DDA projects had understandably fallen off. We are now trying to get those back. We need to make downtown more vibrant. In addition to that, I want to make sure that there is an understanding about the investments that are being made in the city. We are attracting new people in town, many of these are ‘boomerang’ folks, like myself, who grew up here and moved away and are now moving back. Others are new people who have discovered Ludington. They are investing in our town and we want to hear what they have to say.” 

“I’ve enjoyed my role as mayor,” he said when asked why he wants to be re-elected. “I think I’m approachable to people who have issues and can talk about any topic. I am always available by phone, text or email. I am proud of that and would like to continue if they will have me.” 

 

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