Candidates state their case

ALPENA – Candidates for the two Alpena Municipal Council seats in the Feb. 26 special election had a chance Monday to make their case for election during the Alpena County League of Women Voters candidate forum.

Each candidate had time for an opening and closing statement, and the opportunity to answer questions from Alpena residents. Pauline Buchner, League of Women Voters member and moderator, asked candidates questions submitted by audience members. The initial question, which the candidates agreed was an important issue involved how council members could create economic development and jobs locally.

“If we could solve the problems with jobs we’d solve everything,” Susan Nielsen said. “However, the fix is not with the council alone.”

Instead, Nielsen said partnerships and collaborations will generate more local jobs. All of the candidates agreed with her statement, but Phil Wiser said the council will play a larger role in Alpena’s future economic outcomes.

“Alpena is all connected, we’re generous people,” Wiser said. “It’s about collaboration and helping any way we can as a council, opening businesses or marketing to help create jobs. I think we can do that.”

However, when asked what each candidate’s vision for Alpena is, each person had a different approach and future goal. Mike Nowak said to make Alpena a place people want to visit and stay, Mike Polluch said create more jobs, and Wiser said finding consensus on issues and working with local entities.

“I want to keep businesses here and growing, and encourage business owners to give living wages for workers,” Steve Gilmore said. “Plus, I want the city government to function properly.”

As the forum continued, a question was directed specifically to Polluch, who was asked if he had affiliations with the two former council members and if he supported the recall. The rest of the candidates also responded to the question, all of them supported the recall besides Polluch and Nowak, for similar reasons.

“I know them,” Polluch said. “But I don’t back any recalls unless they did something illegal. I don’t think the taxpayers should have to pay for a special election because of two people.”

Other questions the candidates responded to include what type of qualities the city manager should posess, how would they handle someone trying to change their mind about an issue, and what positive changes they have seen in Alpena. They also were asked about consolidation, and taxes.

During the forum, Buchner also explained the ballot proposal that will be seen on the Feb. 26 election. Superintendent Brent Holcomb will host a forum on Feb. 21 at Alpena High School at 7 p.m. to further discuss the regional enhancement millage that will be on the ballot.