Council votes to keep city elections on odd numbered years

The Alpena Municipal Council voted 3-2 to keep city elections on odd numbered years, instead of moving to even, when more state and federal ballot issues take place. The move to even numbered years could have saved the city as much as $10,000 per special election.

Mayor Matt Waligora was for moving to even numbered years. He said as caretakers of the public’s money, the city has an obligation to spend it wisely and save when necessary. He said he also believed because voter turnout is typically higher during even number year elections, more people will have a say in who sits on council.

“It would save some costs and also some staff time,” Waligora said. “I think the people who vote in Alpena are very knowledgeable and even though there would be more things on the ballot, I think they would still be prepared to vote and know the issues. I don’t think we would be washed out by the state and federal issues on the ballot.”

Shawn Sexton said everyone on the council was voted in to serve for four years and he would be uncomfortable adding a year. He said things such as millages passing could be impacted by a longer, partisan ballot.

“We didn’t get elected for five years. Maybe if we made the move and it shortened our term to three I would be a little more receptive to it, but I think it has been made clear that isn’t possible,” Sexton said. “My biggest concern is local organizations with millage requests will likely follow us to save costs and I fear that if there are three or four requests, on a ballot that has a lot of other issues, it will be too easy for people to just vote no, no, no, no.”

In the end Waligora and Mike Nowak voted to move forward with elections in the even numbered years, while Sexton, Susan Nielsen and Cindy Johnson voted against the change.

In other business:

* Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Director Jim Klarich provided an update on Target Alpena’s quarterly economic development efforts locally.

* Waligora proclaimed April “Older Person’s Month”

* the council also received an update on local tax abatement compliance

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at www.thealpenanews.com.