ESCANABA – Candidates for the Gladstone City Commission met last night for a League of Women Voters forum. It was held at the Escanaba City Hall with candidates for the Escanaba City Council.
The group of eight answered questions about the Gladstone Sports Park, financial capability and collective bargaining.
Steve Viau said the number one issue facing Gladstone is retaining residents and businesses.
“For example, in the Landlord Association at some of the meetings I found that people weren’t moving into Gladstone just because of a simple little ordinance,” Viau said.
That ordinance required landlords to be liable for delinquent utilities bills of their tenets. It has since been changed but Viau said it affected rental properties for years..
Jay Bostwick wants to find out why businesses are leaving the city.
“Maybe the city council needs to meet with business owners to find out what they can do to help bring in more businesses and keep the ones that we have,” he said.
Jessica Ebner says they need to attract more people from Escanaba.
“If we can get businesses built up in the downtown that is going to attract people from Escanaba it’s going to make the businesses flourish. It’s not relying on a small town. There’s a bigger pool of people that are going to shop at the businesses,” said Ebner.
Joe Maki believes the Gladstone Downtown Development Authority can do more to market Gladstone.
“And I hope in the future they spend more of their money on marketing and on setting up meetings and meeting with individual businesses so we can sustain services,” Maki said.
Rick Micheau says city rates are preventing economic growth.
“I’ll tell you one reason that businesses do not grow. It’s because with the rates that the city charges, all the rentals have to charge Chicago-style rates to meet their taxes and insurances and so on,” he said.
For the three people that are vying for a partial seat
Dave Nemacheck wants to fill empty storefronts in the downtown.
“I think we should be proactive and I think we should have an inventory of the storefronts. I would be willing to work on that,” he said.
Steve ODriscoll says financial stability is important for the city. He says the commission has already addressed shortfalls.
“I think the other side of that coin is to get a stable base for revenue for the commission. That comes from stimulating business and residential growth in town,” said O’Driscoll.
Vicki Viau says they need to focus on bringing people to the city.
We really need to get the businesses together and try and have more meetings to bring ideas together to get more business to come to Gladstone,” she said.
The election is Nov. 5.