| 5 min read | by Doug Marrin, email@example.com |
A public forum was held on October 16 in the Chelsea City Council Chambers to hear from the four candidates running for the three vacancies on Chelsea City Council. Questions were asked with each candidate giving their response.
“The Chelsea City Council is not a job for the faint of heart, nor for the casual volunteer, but it is rather a job for skilled, thoughtful people who care about this city,” said Paul Schissler, President of the Chelsea Area Chamber of Commerce and moderator for the evening in his introduction.
The Chelsea Area Chamber of Commerce organized and sponsored the event. The four candidates running for City Council are Peter Feeney, Jane Pacheco, Andi Philippe, and Charles Wiseley. Andi Phillippe was not in attendance.
Questions were submitted from the audience on index cards and read to the candidates. The entire 45-minute forum was recorded and can be seen on Chelsea’s Public Access TV channel 18. There will also be a link posted on the City’s website.
Here are a few excerpts:
Introductions and opening statements
Jane is a current councilmember who is up for reelection.
“I want to spend just a minute to tell you in my six years what I’m sort of most proud of … we established a non-discrimination ordinance for the city, and as a part of that process, we were able to have our first Human Rights Commission. We were able to incorporate better strategies for application processes for our commissioners and our committees and board positions in the government, really tackling sort of accountability and transparency for residents, putting things online, having processes for submitted responses and application receipts and things of that nature.”
Jane also described her work with Rep. Donna Lasinski on a housing town hall, CAPT/DART, the recycling authority and participation in hiring a Community Development Director.
“It was apparent to me from an early age, and what’s really apparent now is how deep participation in the community is here. There are literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people who contribute to make this a great community … It’s not an accident. We have such a great volunteer base. So, one of my goals is just to be a good team member and try to make already good teams and better.”
Peter also listed his work as a past chairperson for the Chelsea Community Foundation, current Purple Rose Theater Board, fundraising for the Chelsea Community Hospital, and efforts that have improved the Chelsea Area Fire Department.
“I am 35 years in property management and state management, in commercial management of large commercial properties which I feel gives me a skill set to work as a city councilperson to make the decisions necessary … When I started going to meetings, it was never my intention to run for city council. I’d never had any aspirations. But more and more I became really interested in the process and how it mimics what I do and in commercial management. I felt that as my kids grew up, I wanted to contribute to the city.”
What are some of the environmental and sustainable initiatives that you will champion on Council?
“One of the most direct way to do it, and it’s because the cost of solar and wind is going down considerably over the last 10 years, is to continue to buy and encourage more solar generated power. And encourage in our own building codes opportunities for more solar provided power for homes.”
“I’m not going to champion anybody. I’m going to participate. I’m going to try and get good ideas. I’m not going to come up and solve the issues of sustainability for the City of Chelsea. I do believe in sustainability. I do look forward to, I believe coming down the pike from the sustainability committee is their collection of ideas. I think that’s coming to City Council very soon so I would look at that. I would look to see what they have to put on the table, and then as the city council member make those decisions on what’s best for the City.”
“As I mentioned in my opening statement I was a champion for the formation of the sustainability committee in the first place and I do think we get to hear their first round of recommendations. So I do look forward to what they’ve been able to put together. But as a council, we have had several conversations in various work sessions and visioning sessions about what we can do. Some of the things that we’ve talked about include, as Peter said, we’re all you know current practice buying or renewable resources. We’ve also had some conversation about a potential solar farm.”
Chelsea’s cost of living continues to go up each year since 2016. Electrical rates, water rates, and sewer rates have increased. Taxes increase every year. Housing prices continue to escalate. Council has not done enough to push back these costs. What will you do to bring young families into the community to be able to afford to live here? What’s your 10-year goal for this?
“In terms of affordability of housing the community that’s a toughie and it’s because of the housing index. We have largely single-family homes. And we because of our face of senior living, we attract a lot of older people. People really love living in Chelsea because it’s a walkable community … And so it has driven the price of housing up. The one remedy, and it’s not a short term remedy that we uncovered in the Housing Research Advisory Commission, is to create more capacity. Unfortunately, that capacity is not inside of the city limits. The town is pretty well built out. The opportunities for growth will be in the townships surrounding us.”
“I don’t know if there’s an answer to that. I know that there are two sides to that. There are people who are trying to afford this town and there are people that can afford it. That enjoyment comes with it, and I’ve been on both sides of that ballgame. I’ve been a working farm boy who couldn’t afford much at all. And we’ve got after 30 years of working hard and scraping and trying to get by, made myself a life, made myself a job where I can afford to live in this town … I want it to be affordable. I don’t know that I can give you a 10-year plan that’s ever going to make that really happen. I wish I could, and I would support anyone that can help me do that. But I understand that as we prosper, other people will have to struggle and fight because I worked my whole life, and got to where I am.”
“It is a complicated question and the equation includes a little bit of housing and transit and education and utilities. We have to look at the whole equation. But I have to say I agree with Peter. I think my time on Council, and my experience with housing in this community lends me to believe that we need more diversity in housing. We have the opportunity to work with both developers that are looking at infill development within the borders and developers in surrounding townships that are looking at border communities and new development.”
Why do you want to be on Chelsea City Council?
“I want to be on City Council because I want to help … I go to meetings. I’m interested in how the town runs just like I’m interested in how my buildings in residences run. It’s just what makes them tick. I like to go to big cities. I like to see what makes them tick. I find it very interesting. It’s just what I like.”
“My main reason for running this term is primarily for representation. I have a soapbox that I haul around with me all the time and like to tell young people, especially that the people at the table are the ones that are making the decisions. I would like to see the table well represented by different facets of the community at every table. That includes school boards and townships and committees and commissions and regional groups. I think it’s important to see some age diversification, some gender diversification, and race, ethnicity, etc., religion. But from my perspective, a lot of times I feel like I represent a viewpoint that may not be vocalized in some of our issues. And at this point, I still think there’s a job for me to do.”
“You know, one of the things, when you hang around for a while, is you kind of get a chance to figure out how things work and you figure out a better way that you can contribute. And so I have a little bit of endurance not only in my professional life but in participating in town, so I just think I can contribute.”
Nothing provocative was said. All three candidates have an appreciation and love for Chelsea and want to give back by being a positive force in the city’s future. They have all been successful in past endeavors and it is these talents and accomplishments they intend on bringing to the council should they be elected.