Here are some additional questions from Wednesday’s debate, and my answers. Some answers will be posted by the debate organizers as well.
1. Lourdie, a preteen girl living in Grand Rapids, asks: “Why do you want to be mayor?”
- I got into this race driven with the purpose of taking the poison hydrofluorosilicic acid out of the city water supply. As a youngster, you are probably hurt in more ways than any other age group. You should educate yourself on the subject at my website. I know you can’t vote, but you should ask your parents if they approve of putting poison in the water supply, any if they’re not voting to take it out, why not? And if you’re concerned, you should ask your friends to ask their parents the same question.
2. As a first time voter, what will you do to make sure my voice and the voice of youth of Grand Rapids is heard and taken seriously?
- Good for you, get active young and stay active. Get online, go to alternative news websites, see what’s really going on in this country. Read “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand, which I read at your age, to understand the proper role of government and what happens when government power gets out of control. You are welcome to speak at city commission meetings. You are welcome to call and speak with me or your commissioners. I have empathy and will listen to the concerns of the youth and keep those concerns in mind when facing issues raised before the commission that deals with them. Although I’m old, I remember what it was like to be young. That said, I know being young in these times is very different from what it was in my time.
3. What will your first 100 days look like as mayor?
- I will immediately propose we remove the fluoride from the water supply. If I am elected, I will see that as a mandate to remove this toxin, and will use the mayor’s main power, the bully pulpit, in the event it’s necessary, to identify any commissioner that opposes it. Then it will be up to the people who elected me to get involved and let their commissioners know what they want.
4. Any takeaways from Wednesday’s debate?
- Although I am one of the new voices in this race, I feel I gave real answers and proposed real solutions to the questions asked. I realized from the audience response that I am running against two political machines, so am therefore an underdog. But I am offering one thing they can’t (because they are politicians and afraid of controversy), removal of fluoride, and propose solutions (on my website) to many other problems the other candidates don’t even see. And if all the people who voted for term limits did so just to put a political retread in the mayor’s office, then why did we bother?
1. What do you believe is the core purpose of city government?
- Try to run a lean, streamlined government, provide protection, provide services where they benefit the many, stay out of the private lives of the citizens, allow private industry to provide services where it makes sense, and keep an eye on federal and state issues that may affect the city.
2. Can you explain the data you use and the source of your info on Grand Rapids’ financial status?
- Comprehensive Annual Financial Report City of Grand Rapids Michigan, available on-line.
2b. How do you plan to eliminate our debt?
- I explained this on my website in a post entitled “Want Better Roads? Here’s One Way to Do It.” I want to start with duplicating what’s been done in private industry regarding a transfer from defined benefit to defined contribution plans. This has been started with new employees, but there are still major legacy issues. Although the city comptrollers endorsed someone else, I feel of all the candidates I have been the most transparent regarding this issue. I can’t predict all my actions of the future, but reducing debt goes along with the way I think government should function, and would be a top priority. This can be seen in my stances on the refuse issue, and the foray of the city government into the power generation business, to name a few.
3. Do you plan on lowering taxes?
- One of my opponents spoke about how great it was that during her tenure we’ve allowed taxes to be increased, was it twice? I hope we don’t have to get another “attaboy” in the next four years for biting the bullet again so city government can continue to expand. I will oppose any tax increases. I will be one of the few in government to look at where cuts can be made if budgets require it. If the unfunded liability can be taken care of, the money saved should be used to get the roads in acceptable condition, at which point I would see what other less valuable parts of government could be cut, allowing for a possible tax decrease. I will say that getting to this eventually would take time and would probably not happen during my term in office.
4. How will you improve customer service at the city?
- I would drive improvements to the 311 system and require departments to keep simple metrics on response times to identify problem areas. I would hold department heads responsible for ensuring efficiency was maintained. The metrics would be simple enough to not require additional personnel. I’ve seen metrics on steroids in private industry and realize there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
5. Besides real lack of diversity, if you could change one aspect of city hall culture, what would it be?
- Since I am not currently in city hall culture, I can’t comment on the culture. After working my entire adult life I understand the workforce and will say the culture is a result of the workers. I will say is there are federal laws in place governing equality in the workplace, which I would firmly uphold. The rest I would approach with an open mind.
6. What would you do to increase the number of city employees living in GR? Most don’t.
- I will continue to live in Grand Rapids even when my term of office is over. I feel a person is either a dedicated employee or he’s not, and that probably isn’t influenced by where he lives. Rather than dictate where an employee lives, which I feel is a personal matter, I would like to ensure all employees have enough work to do. I would deal with issues as they arise when there’s too little work/too many workers.