Meet the Candidates: City commission candidate Philip Kruska shares campaign foundations


Courtesy Photo from Philip Kruska

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

Kruska is a lifelong resident of Mount Pleasant and a business professional in the area for over 20 years.

“I want to ask the right questions and learn from those who have had more experiences than myself,” Kruska said. “I am from Mount Pleasant and I’m for Mount Pleasant.”

Central Michigan Life spoke with Kruska on his beliefs and goals if elected to city commission.

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

I’m in mortgage lending at Commercial Bank in Mount Pleasant. I also own a couple rentals in the city. Previously to this, I’ve worked in property management and real estate sales. I actually previously owned a real estate company in town for five years and I’ve sold real estate in the past for over 10 years. I’ve been obsessed with housing and real estate. 

I think those experiences and the perspective of being a business owner, working with landlords and tenants, representing buyers and sellers, and helping people with financial needs will be a real asset to serving on the city commission.

How are you involved in the Mount Pleasant community?

Currently, I’m an affiliate member of the Central Michigan Association of Realtors. I’m on two committees for that: finance and public relations. I’m also a member of the Rotary Club of Mt. Pleasant and I’m a member of The Potter's House Family Worship Center here in town. I think they’re valuable experiences in the volunteering sector.

What are your top three issues of priority?

I would like to see more community involvement and communication, especially within the commission meetings. I’ve watched the meetings and whenever they ask for public comment sometimes there’s just crickets. 

I think that encouraging people to become regular attenders would get them more involved in the city. Communication is important to me — between the government, business owners, and the people. That would be valuable in determining the direction the city wants to move. 

Fiscal efficiency is another big one to consider. People want to know that their taxes are being put to good use.  I want to be a part of promoting the financial decisions that are cost effective and feasible for our community. 

The third item is transparency. I’d like to be approachable and meet new residents so they can share their concerns with me. I feel like I’m a straight-shooter and I’m glad to share what I know with others. I can understand the importance of transparency being a resident under the city commission my entire life.

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

Hitting the streets and walking around the neighborhoods is important. Just the other day I was walking about passing out flyers and I heard from a man that talked to me about wanting more maintenance at the Island Park shuffleboard courts. 

I think when someone says they want to see change it’s coming from the heart and it’s great to have that shared in organic conversation. Coming to share that in front of the group of people making the decisions is obviously going to speak louder than just a one-on-one conversation. There’s also different forums on Facebook that could be used for community outreach. Word of mouth is the best way in my opinion though.

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

I’ve been studying to prepare for this role and seek understanding of the budget and Master Plan. I think it’s important to consider the financial impact on the community for every decision because we’re all affected residents. I like to think of it as ‘how would we spend our own money?’ I want to bring in personal finance strategies that I’m familiar with through my work to put the city’s choices in perspective.

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

I know that there are already groups and churches addressing this crisis, but that’s a big undertaking for them. I would like to see what they’re exact needs are or what struggles are recurring year-to-year or during certain seasons. Then, seeing if they’d like city involvement or if it’s something they’d like to continue working on independently. I don’t want to step on their toes, but I think it’s an important idea to offer additional city support to these organizations through funding.

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

I’m not personally supportive of promoting it. I wouldn’t like increases beyond the established three licenses. I may not be liked for this view, but I have to be honest. I think more research should be done to show how other communities have fared with increases in allowing recreational marijuana licenses. If additional licenses were to be granted I think it should still be limited and not overrun by facilities. 

I would also like to see the platform for recreational marijuana decisions become a level playing field in the future. We like to ideally support local businesses when we can, because obviously that’s a very integral part of the Mount Pleasant community. I would advocate for the involvement of our community members over an outside entity.

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

I know that the downtown and businesses here have a lot of vacancies and I think it’s vital to fill these empty spots. Creating a vision for having people stick around and plant roots in Mount Pleasant is important. 

You see a lot of people coming and going from Mount Pleasant. I want to encourage these people to stay in the city. I think we can do this by creating a culture in downtown. A culture where there’s music, outdoor seating, and familiar smells from restaurants or coffee shops, engaging all of the five senses to create a unique identity for the downtown. Also, fountains, flowers and benches for people to gather and enjoy the scenery. Revitalizing the downtown to become an experience would be my goal. 

I know we used to have a Summer Fest, and it would be neat to bring that back in the summer and have us be known for a specific festival. Something that would be central to Mount Pleasant’s identity.

Any other thoughts?

In summary, I will say that all of the experiences and perspective I have will be useful for serving on city commission. I’m a life-long learner and I will learn everything I can in this position and that means asking a lot of questions. Whether that's on the commission or if I hit the streets to ask residents and business owners what their concerns are. I’ve heard many people have concerns but it’s often grumbling without communication to the commission. Without communication there can’t be a solution. I hope to be that bridge.