Candidates Meet-and-Greet with the Ferndale Seniors
A packed room of seniors came out to learn about the three Ferndale City Council candidates and two mayoral candidates running Nov. 8.
The Ferndale Seniors got to know the three candidates running for a seat on City Council and the two running for the mayoral seat on Wednesday at the Gerry Kulick Community Center during a candidate meet-and-greet.
Mayor Pro Tem Kate Baker has decided not to seek reelection and Lennon's seat is up.
For the mayor's seat, current Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter is running to keep his seat while resident Raymond Willis is opposing him. Coulter was appointed as Ferndale's mayor after former mayor Craig Covey won his bid for the 25th District County Commission seat.
Each candidate opened up the meet-and-greet with an introduction of themselves and some of the plans they have if elected.
While common themes are keeping a balanced budget, keeping Ferndale active and vibrant, support for public safety, seniors in the audience wanted to know what the candidates would do for them.
"They all seem to feel the senior vote is important," Ferndale Senior Katie Herschberger said. "All the seniors are very aware of what's going on and the candidates all seemed to think our votes are important."
What seniors were asking
The candidates took a few questions from the audience before cake was served in the lunchroom. Hershberger asked what the one thing the candidates would do if elected.
"I'll work like mad to stay at this millage rate so we don't go up to the higher millage rate," Wells said. On May 3, Ferndale residents approved a Headlee Override, a tax increasing measure to generate revenue for the city operation. The Headlee Override raised the general operating mills from 14.5 to 17.5 for the first year of this five-year millage. Over the next four years, council has the ability to raise the millage to the state maximum of 20 mills. Read more about the Headlee Override here.
Lennon said his goal is to maintain a balanced budget and ensure healthy finances for the next four years while Coulter wants to do "an even better job of reaching out to our neighbors for collaboration and sharing."
Martin said he wants to keep Ferndale a great place and Willis wanted to increase city advertisement and fill up vacant homes.
In the short question and answer session, however, details on laying out these ideas were not given.
Another audience member asked about reversing the trend of population loss in Ferndale. The 2010 Census revealed that Ferndale lost about 10 percent of its population from 2000, from 22,105 to 19,900.
"We want to be attractive to people looking to come to the state, settle down, come to Ferndale to settle down," Martin said.
Martin said Ferndale could continue on this path with good city services and a vibrant and walkable downtown. "We need to take care of each other and the community," he said.
Coulter reminded the audience that although the population is shrinking, tax collection doesn't change. "Taxes are not based on population, but based on our homes," he said. "Homes in the past may have had seven or eight in them, now they have one or two. Plus families of three or four are now looking for bigger houses."
Coulter said he'd like to find a way for families to expand their homes but keep their taxes at affordable levels.
"All we really can do is make Ferndale as much as possible a good place with a vibrant downtown."
Though Wells, who spearheaded the noise ordinance issue in Ferndale, says she's not just about noise, she does reference it. "Quiet and vibrant, I like both," she said.
Willis said more events and festivals would make Ferndale more attractive. He also said there needs to be more advertising for Ferndale throughout the state.
What seniors are saying
Arthur Kraus, a new member to the Ferndale Seniors group, has lived in Ferndale for 71 years, his entire life.
"I think they brought up some good ideas," he said. "Some of the ideas they had, I think about, too."
Kraus said he'd like to see the sidewalks repaired along Hilton but said the city does a good job of keeping the parks clean. "I live near Harding Park and they do a good job of keeping it up."
Norma Van Ness, another member of the seniors, said the meet-and-greet helped solidify who she'll vote for Nov. 8. "But I'm not telling you, I'll keep that private," she said.
"All of them have good things to say with good ideas," she said.
The candidates will participate in another forum on Oct. 23 at 1 p.m. at the Ferndale Public Library. Citizens for a Fair Ferndale sponsor it.