Petoskey's Ward 1 candidates respond to local issues – Petoskey News-Review

PETOSKEY — The race for the Ward 1 city council seat in Petoskey features two newcomer candidates as longtime councilwoman Kate Marshall vacates her seat at the end of this term. 
Declan Akins is a 2019 Michigan State University graduate who lived in Petoskey for 10 years after moving to the city with his family, and returned once he got out of college. He is a risk advisor for State Farm and is currently obtaining a master’s in business administration from Oakland University, according to his online LinkedIn profile. 
“I will work to make Petoskey a place were future generations want to live,” he said in a statement. “Vote for me Nov. 2 and build a city for your children and grandchildren to thrive.” 
Tina DeMoore is a lawyer and serves on the executive committee of the Emmet-Charlevoix Bar Association. She has previously served as a president of that organization, and also served in the past as a Public Schools of Petoskey board member. She has lived in Petoskey for 40 years, and graduated from the Michigan State University Honors college before obtaining her justice degree from Wayne State University. 
“My commitment to city residents is that I will be well-prepared, listen to and consider all viewpoints, make evidence-based decisions, exercise critical thinking, use my voice constructively and spend tax dollars wisely,” she said. 
Petoskey citizens in the First Ward will decide between the two candidates Tuesday at the polls. 
Below are answers from both candidates on issues facing the city, based on prompts provided to them via email. 
When asked to identify one potential strategy that could help address community shortages in housing, labor, and household income, Akins focused on financial incentives for private businesses. 
“I think a major step the city council can take is to utilize the resources offered to our city to encourage economic growth,” he said. “An example is the development grants offered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation which go unused by the city. We can use this money to incentivize private business to invest in affordable housing and higher paying jobs.” 
He identified affordable housing as one of the most important issues to him. 
DeMoore said “the housing crisis and persistent social inequities” are key challenges to be addressed. 
She highlighted the ongoing search for a new city manager as a step toward helping address those issues in the long term, and urged due diligence in finding a qualified candidate. 
“The candidate selected must have the requisite training and experience plus be a good ‘fit’ for our city,” she said. “The candidate must also provide leadership/support to city council members to develop evidence-based policies that make the most effective use of limited funding resources and are specifically targeted to defined, positive outcomes regarding housing and associated issues that fall within city council purview.” 
DeMoore said transitioning to 100% renewable energy “is a critical priority” to mitigate fossil fuel dependence and cut down on emissions. She pointed to the local effects of climate change, like fluctuating water levels, shoreline erosion, and damage to city infrastructure like the Little Traverse Wheelway. 
“In the next 2-4 years, energy conservation methods, investments in renewable energy infrastructure such as electric vehicle charging stations and further promoting the Voluntary Green Pricing program that allows Petoskey customers to purchase up to 100% of their energy consumption from renewables would advance that goal,” she said. 
She also recommended continuing to work with the Michigan Public Power Agency, which organizes energy resources across municipalities, to aid in the transition to renewable energy. Further, she said buying local reduces energy consumption. 
Akins also encouraged the city to continue taking proactive steps in switching to renewable energy. 
“It’s very important for Petoskey to be a leader in renewable energy,” he said. “I think a major step would be for the city to study the best methods to reach its goal and spend more time considering more feasible options.” 
Akins indicated that city policy is a crucial component to the economic health of the community, and primarily emphasized a spirit of collaboration between the city government and local business interests. 
“City government makes or breaks economic development,” he said. “If business owners cannot work with local government then the economy stagnates. We need a city council that both works with business and keeps the interests of the people close in mind.” 
DeMoore stressed the importance of balance in economic development decisions, and said officials should take care not to neglect the community character and quality of life in the city. Policies should both promote “a vibrant, year-round economy and attract interest in investment,” she said. 
“Balance is key because it is precisely those unique elements of community character that drive investment, visitors and residents to Petoskey,” she said. “In specific circumstances, regional collaborations, public-private partnerships and/or other cooperative alliances along with enhanced efforts to engage state and federal resources/grants could be considered to further promote economic development and a thriving year-round areawide economy.” 

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