Miller, Barnett running for Ludington mayor seat

October 27, 2022

Miller, Barnett running for Ludington mayor seat

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

LUDINGTON — When voters in the City of Ludington go to the polls on Nov. 8, they will decide on their next mayor. Incumbent Steve Miller is being challenged by former police chief Mark Barnett for the non-partisan race. 

The mayor of Ludington is elected for a four year term. Ludington’s government is set up as a “weak mayor” form of government. The city manager is the administrator of the city, appointed by the city council. The mayor presides over city council meetings, sets the agenda for the council and appoints committee and commission members, with the approval of the council. The only time the mayor votes is to break a tie. 

Mark Barnett


Barnett: Barnett served as Ludington Chief of Police from 2001 until 2020. Prior to that he was a police officer for the City of Pontiac. He is actively involved in his church and has served on several boards in the community. 

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.

Reasons to run for mayor

Barnett: “When Lisa and I moved to Ludington in January 2001 we were welcome with open arms. Later that year, the United States was attacked on Sept. 11. Following that tragedy, I witnessed our small community coming together and raising money to help the victims of the attacks in New York and Washington. It was just incredible to see this community come together like that. Then, I realized through the years following that this community comes together all the time. We live in a caring community where neighbors truly look out for each other. We raised our family in Ludington and plan on remaining here now that I am retired. I believe I have more to give back to this town and I am ready to serve in a new way.”

Steve Miller

Miller: “Having spent four years learning what a mayor is capable of doing and what the mayor is not capable of doing has been quite an experience. Once COVID has been put behind us the best we could do all those three years prior to that had a greater impact on my last year. I felt more comfortable with guidance at city council meetings and engagement with the community that giant steps are not going to be made. It helped me want to continue as mayor.”

Accomplishments for Ludington

Barnett: “The one thing I tell people is that whether as the mayor or as the police chief, either job requires working with people to solve issues or problems. Mayor John Henderson established the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee. Through that committee, I worked with Mayor Henderson to help raise funds and build a skate plaza at Stearns Park. The committee recognized that we had a quality of life problem. The younger folks needed a place to be and the older folks didn’t want them on the streets and sidewalks, interfering with businesses. We raised the money and built a $300,000 skate plaza on a prime piece of property, overlooking Lake Michigan. It’s turned into something that is used almost year-round by the youth of our community. I am very proud of that. 

“Another thing that may not be as high of a profile as the skate plaza was creating an opportunity for families and visitors to gather and have a family friendly activity in the summer by showing movies at Rotary Park (known as City Park when Movies in the Park were started). It’s been fun, as one of the organizers of that event, to sit and see the crowd of people enjoying themselves in a safe and friendly environment.”

Barnett also mentioned the Drive Safe Drive Sober campaign that he helped start which provides free rides to people celebrating New Year’s Eve in downtown Ludington. “That campaign is a great example of law enforcement working with local businesses to keep people. It allows people to have a good time but get home safe. It has had an impact on reducing the number of drunk driving arrests and accidents on New Year’s Eve.

“In 2003 we began a group called the Networking Group, it included members of law enforcement, school officials and juvenile court, children’s services and the prosecutor’s office. We discussed various issues to solve problems like gang activity in the area. I believe that, as a result of that committee, that we had an impact.”

Miller: “One of the first issues that was presented to me when I was running for mayor in 2018 was seniors not being able to take LMTA (Ludington Mass Transit Authority) to businesses, such as Meijer, in Amber Township along the US 10 corridor. I started collaborating with Jim Gallie, supervisor of Amber Township, and Paul Keson, who was then the supervisor of Pere Marquette Township and is now the director of LMTA, and we worked out a solution. LMTA now makes 700 trips per month out to that area. I’m very proud of that.”

Miller also listed as accomplishments standardizing city meetings “so the public could see a certain consistency from the chair, and from the council that seemed to be lacking.” He said he has “opened city hall” by creating ways for people to reach the mayor such as having regular hours at city hall. 


Barnett: “One of the big issues that is a long-term issue is revitalizing the charter.” Barnett is currently chairman of the city’s charter commission. “There are parts of the charter that certainly need to be updated and many parts of it that work well for Ludington. It was never intended that the commission would get elected and solve the issues of the charter in a few short months. That is certainly a long-term project but extremely important to the health of the city.” 

“Regarding other issues, there are many areas that the city government needs to concentrate on, such as continuous economic growth and providing adequate housing for all. As mayor I plan to listen to the community and work with all groups to make this an even better place to live.” 

Miller: “I think it’s important that people understand that anyone who sits in the mayor chair understands that not all issues are cut and dry. There are a lot of disagreements on issues and the role of the mayor is not to decide who is right or wrong. I do not try to influence votes in the city and I want to make sure people can be heard and have a voice.” 

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