2007-10-24 / News

Council candidate: Gordon Winther

•GORDON WINTHER, 808 Meadow Drive; 25-year city resident; retired (teaching) personal business-academic enrichment consulting and services (after school enrichment programs). Taught for one year at Kearsley High School (special education). Taught for 29 years at North Branch Area Schools (special education teacher- nine years/gifted/talented coordinator -20 years); married with three children.

 

QUALIFICATIONS:

Formal education background:

Graduated from Henry Ford High School-Detroit, attended Oakland Community College for one year, graduated from Central Michigan University, Bachelor of Science degree in education, have accumulated approximately 75 hours of graduate credit in a variety of educational areas.

Previous involvement in local governement:

None (other than being appointed for a four-month term to the Davison City Council).

What unique skills or qualifications would you bring to the city council?

Served on numerous education committees at both the local and countywide level. Was teacher association president for four years. Served as North Branch teacher bargaining committee for eight years, six years as chief negotiator.

 

ISSUES:

What is the biggest issue facing the Davison City Council?

At this time I’d have to say winning back public trust in city government. I believe that many feel they have lost their voice in some of the decisions that have been made and no feel that their only recourse is to become adversarial. I believe more has to be done to create a pubic forum in obtaining information that is necessary to make decisions that affect our community. I also believe city government needs to put processes in place that invite more public discourse and a feeling of ownership in decisions and direction that our city takes.

What would you do specifically to improve the relationships and communications between the city council and the DDA?

First, I think that practices for appointment to the DDA have to be more independent and impartial. I also believe the city council and DDA have to come up with a plan that moves the development of the downtown area in a realistic direction that is proactive in nature and uses sound and pertinent information to make sure that the downtown area addresses the concerns of the business owners, moves in a direction where downtown businesses can thrive and compete in an ever changing business market and addresses the input of community members in regards to what they would like to see the downtown area look like and would incline them to patronize it on a more consistent basis.

How, specifically, would you promote/improve communication with city residents and property owners? First of all, I believe that we have to have more instances where true discussion about city issues can take place in a less formal atmosphere. Again, having more public forums, additional exploratory committees, etc., would provide a venue for not only getting input from members, but also provide a platform for educating people about some of the realities that we face. I think that what has been done electronically on the city Web site is a good beginning. However, I believe that more can be accomplished by having a regular community newsletter and, as I stated before, more face to face opportunities for people to express their concerns or ask questions that they have of people that can give them honest feedback.

How quickly should the mayor make appointments to various boards and commissions? As soon as realistically possible. If there are interested and energetic people that have a true desire to serve, it should move forward quickly. However, if a search process is necessary to fill a position, I can understand how that may take more time than one would like to see.

Does the city of Davison need a new municipal center. How should it be funded? What are the alternatives? In the best of all possible worlds, I’d like to see Davison have the best facilities available. However, dealing with the current financial climate and also knowing that there has been very little public input to this concept, I don’t see how in the foreseeable future this could be accomplished. I think we have to look at making the very best use of what we have and what may be able to be accomplished in a framework that won’t bring any additional financial burden to the residents of Davison.

How can the city council meetings be made more user-friendly? First, I don’t view anyone that attends a city council meeting as being a guest. Our government belongs to everyone involved whether it be a city resident, a business owner, or others with outside interests. As long as we have processes in place that are orderly and productive, I believe that everyone should have a part of the meetings where they have a voice and a chance to get information important to them. Moving the public comment portion to the front part of the agenda, would be a good beginning.

Given complicated issues such as inflow and infiltration, plans for a new municipal center and new city ordinances (and the various views and opinions shared on such issues), what is your view on keeping detailed minutes and recording city government meetings (audio and /or video)? I’m not opposed to whatever record keeping process work best for both city employees and community members. I do believe that video means would be counterproductive, because of it being somewhat intimidating to some and opportunities for theatrics for others.

Given new an increasing tax levies at various levels of government (e.g. county levies for health coverage and senior citizens, a pending increase on state income tax), what should be the maximum property tax levied by the city of Davison? Rather than looking at this as what maximum tax levies should be in place, I’d rather look at it as what are the minimum tax levies necessary in order to provide services that residents expect and require. We’re in times that require fiscal restraint and realistic decision making.

Why, specifically are you running for Davison City Council? I look at this as a way of giving back to the community that I’ve lived in for many years and also a new personal challenge. I can only guarantee that I will give my best possible effort, and that people can be assured that I’m willing to listen to whatever their concerns are and view them in the total picture of things. I will continue to donate the stipend for being on the city council to a scholarship fund for students wanting to take enrichment classes with Davison Community Enrichment and Recreation program and will avail myself for additional committees, educational opportunities, etc.

 

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