Candidate Q&A: Zach Michels, Mayor of Dexter


Zach Michels. Courtesy Zach Michels.

Note to readers: The Sun Times News has made its media outlet available to candidates running for public office. Articles published do not reflect an endorsement by the STN. Submissions are from candidates who responded within our guidelines. In order to be as fair and equitable as possible, candidates can submit their responses to four basic questions.

  1. Who are you?
  2. Why are you running?
  3. What issues do you think are important?
  4. Why should we vote for you?

Candidate’s responses are printed as submitted.

Who are you?

I grew up in the village of Shepherd and studied architecture, urban planning, urban design, and cognitive psychology at the University of Michigan.

As an urban planner, I’ve worked for local governments and as a private consultant, reviewing permits for sheds and 990+ acre developments, preparing ordinances and master plans, helping property owners, and conducting enforcement.

My work life has also included light manufacturing, Zamboni operation, and hockey officiating.

I served on the Shepherd Planning Commission, Angola Historic Preservation Commission, 101 Lakes Land Trust, Washtenaw Area Transportation Study, and Chelsea Area Planning Team/Dexter Area Regional Team. I was as a rank leader in the Michigan Marching Band and participated in Habitat builds.

I’ve served on Council since 2015 and on the Zoning Board of Appeals, Election Commission, Housing Task Force, 3045 Redevelopment Committee, Dexter Area Fire Department Board, and Michigan Municipal League committees.

Why are you running?

I believe my experience as an involved community member and urban planner can provide better leadership as we address complex issues that don’t have simple answers.

I believe my experience in community development and helping businesses will provide a solid foundation to ensure our downtown remains a vibrant jewel.

I believe healthy democracy requires a periodic changing of the guard to bring new ideas and perspectives. Our current mayor has been in that position for 15 years.

What issues do you think are important?

Ensuring a SUSTAINABLY VIBRANT DEXTER is important fiscally, socially, and environmentally. I will continue to advocate for tax rates that don’t exceed what’s necessary, call to raise the property hardship exemption to 2.5 times poverty level, and ensure public investments consider life-cycle costs. I’ll continue work started by our Housing Task Force and advocate for a senior/youth center. I’ll work to adopt a Dexter-sized climate action plan and take a proactive approach to retain, develop, and attract businesses.

Improving PUBLIC SAFETY is an essential purpose of local government. We will build a new public safety facility that supports appropriate fire and police services. I’ll play a leadership role in greater regional cooperation for fire services and exploring the viability of establishing our own police department. We’ll expand pedestrian safety, adopt rental inspection and cost-recovery ordinances, and secure another well site.

GOOD GOVERNMENT is essential. I’ll continue our current practices and build on them by: following our Charter, providing all City officials with training and official email, and developing a public engagement plan. I’ll see that all of our committees are fully seated and conduct interviews for openings with another Council member. I’ll continue to hold regular ‘coffee hours.’

Why should we vote for you?

If you agree that a sustainably vibrant Dexter, effective public safety, and good government are important, you should vote for me.

If you believe it’s time for a fresh set of eyes that come with experience, you should vote for me.

If you believe your mayor should meet with residents who have different opinions, listen to them, and find ways to address their concerns, you should vote for me.

If you believe it’s important for your mayor to look to the future and ask us to dream what we want to be, but also understand the nuts and bolts of how to get there, you should vote for me.

If you believe it’s important for Council to solve complex issues in a timely manner, you should vote for me.

If you think it would be cool to tell friends and relatives that your mayor drives a Zamboni, you should vote for me.

Please visit, follow Instagram/zachfordextermi, or message me 726.0095.

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