Mount Pleasant elects three new City Commissioners
Three new faces will join Mount Pleasant's City Commission in 2016 after Tuesday's elections.
Allison Quast-Lents, Nicholas Madaj and Lori Gillis all won their bids for election. The trio will serve three-year terms. Vice Mayor Rick Rautanen lost his bid for re-election, as well as current Planning Commission chairperson, Keith Cotter.
Madaj, Gillis and Quast-Lents collectively received 58 percent of the vote.
Quast-Lents serves on the city's Downtown Development Authority. She was a Planning Commissioner for five years and was the board's liaison to the Zoning Board of Appeals. She's also the current manager of Motorless Motion, a bicycle shop at 121 S. Main St.
Madaj is a research attorney. He's worked in a county legal department, as well as offered legal service to small businesses and nonprofits.
Gillis is a Central Michigan University computer science and business instructor.
Isabella County polls are close, the votes are in, and we have the results!
As polls closed at 8 p.m., precinct totals trailed into the Isabella County Clerk's Office. Madaj and Quast-Lents anxiously awaited their fate in the main lobby until nearly midnight. The two were surrounded by family and friends when the final tabulations announced their victory.
"I am just so thankful that the neighborhood and people who care about their community came out and got to the polls," Quast-Lents said. "(They) voted for people who care about their neighborhoods."
She wants to bring "progressive changes" to Mount Pleasant, changes now possible with Gillis and Madaj. That includes enacting the city's non-motorized transportation plan.
Madaj said he was "very excited about the possibilities of the coming term." He wants to push for increased government transparency and fiscal responsibility.
Both Madaj and Quast-Lents recognized the strained relationship between residents and CMU students.
"I know there's some hard feelings between people, and I think as new commissioners we can express some leadership in that issue," Madaj said.
Quast-Lents added that city leaders need to stop putting students "in situations that allow them to make poor choices." Those poor choices, she said, result in vandalism near some residential neighborhoods.
City and CMU officials recently formed a new board to combat those issues. Quast-Lents is most interested in the outcome of those meetings.
"I’m not sure if they’ve met yet, but the first thing I’m going to do is to see what they’ve talked about," she said. "If they haven’t met, I want to figure out why not, and what the plans are."
Voters also approved a proposal renewing Isabella County's millage for Mount Pleasant Public Schools. Millages are taxes levied on properties, excluding residences and other exempt buildings.
The tax puts a little more than $18 per every $1,000 raised toward schools over the next 10 years. The city expects to take in an estimated $8,839,904 in 2016.
If voters rejected the proposal, it would have expired at the end of this year. The proposal passed with 80 percent of the vote.
Residents also passed a second proposal about term limits for city officials. The proposal restricts term limits to no more than four years for people on public boards or committees.