Meet the Candidates: City commission candidate Daniel Hess explores his campaign platform

Daniel Hess

Local resident Daniel Hess is one of five candidates to file for the three open city commission seats up for election on Nov. 2.

The 70-year-old retired local is a Vietnam veteran with over 16 years of political background.

“I’ve lived in this town for almost 30 years and I’ve seen the city completely change,” Hess said. “I want to be part of that change on the commission.”

Central Michigan Life spoke with Hess on his values and plans if elected to city commission.

CM Life: How will your prior work experience support you in this commission seat?

I have eight years experience as a county committeeman in Wyoming and I have eight years experience on the Isabella County Planning Commission. I was the Union Township representative and stepped down from that in 2000. At that time, back in the late 90s, the town was expanding real fast. I wanted to see agriculture still be the main focus of this town. So I worked to lock in agriculture in Union Township to help it stay rooted and grow.

I’m currently studying in the Naturopathic Institute of Therapies and Education (NITE) in Mount Pleasant. I think my government background will support me in this seat.

How are you involved in the Mount Pleasant community?

I haven’t volunteered recently, but in the past I was on the Isabella County Soup Kitchen board for several years and I would cook at the soup kitchen on the weekends. I delivered Meals on Wheels for two years and I was in charge of Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless at Immanuel Lutheran Church. I ran that for over eight years. 

What are your top three issues of priority?

I would like to see something for the kids in this town to do. There’s nothing for children or teenagers. Besides sports, which are limited by season, there’s nothing to keep kids active. I think a game room or arcade would be nice. I’d like to see an arcade with things like laser tag included. My original idea from years ago was to put in an indoor virtual reality golf course with a go-kart track. 

I’d also like to see improvements to the downtown area. At one time there used to be a lot of businesses in the downtown area and now it’s basically gone. I would love to see that come back. 

The other main issue is the streets in Mount Pleasant. Some of the streets are in really bad shape. Not just potholes. I’d like to see if the water and sewer has been updated. I know the gas and electric lines are in good shape, but as far as water and sewer we could improve.

How will you involve residents in the decision-making in our city?

That is one thing I’d love to hear from the community: ideas. This is about the community, not just politics and who’s running the board. It’s about listening to their ideas. Our email addresses are all public and I’d love for people to use the email and approach me with their ideas. 

It’s going to be tougher to involve uninterested residents. Social media could be used. I’d like to get the word out and ask what they think will help the community. I know a lot of people will want something for the kids or street improvement. I also support fire and police and the second amendment and I’d like to see other people get involved in that.

If elected, what steps will you take to put our city on a stronger financial ground?

First, I’d have to see what the budget looks like. It encompasses a lot of areas and I know it's quite large. It becomes a question of what is most important to budget.  With all the problems with police on the news, I would say getting police educated and more training and supplies is a priority. To raise funds and protect small businesses. 

I think the biggest problem is the masking. The mask really doesn’t do anything. Let’s get rid of the masks. It will bring people back. Everyone is scared of coronavirus and not coming out, but if you look at history people have survived many plagues and epidemics. 

We need to get those small businesses back to normal and up and running. We used to have the streets blocked off and music playing and big names doing entertainment for the weekend. It would generate a crowd and revenue and that all went away with COVID-19. People are tired of being cooped up in the house. Second, I’d like to see the downtown improved and these businesses come back. A lot of the business owners have moved out of town.

If elected, how will you work to support Mount Pleasant’s homeless population?

The city owns the old state home on Pickard Street and there’s several acres there. I would love to see a homeless shelter built there with shopping and restaurants to create a small community. 

I would have to see what the budget calls for to decide if it should be done through the Isabella County Restoration House or as an independent city plan. I know the churches take turns for housing and feeding the homeless, but a housing project would be more effective. I think it would help the community a lot.

Many residents are divided on the state of marijuana in Mount Pleasant. Where do you stand and what can the city do to either promote or mitigate the industry?

I’d like to see them promote it. Colorado did it years ago and were really the pioneers for it. Since then, its roads and schools have improved. There’s a lot of revenue that could be made off recreational marijuana that could be used for various sources, including the homeless. 

In a hypothetical scenario without funding constraints, what would you want to change about the city and how?

I definitely want something for the kids. I would like to build an arcade. The city commission’s idea of an ice skating rink is good, but that’s only for the winter time. What are you going to do for summer? Kids are going to be bored. If I had to work on something, that’s my big goal right now.