TRAVERSE CITY — A new-look city commission confirmed a handful of nominations to city boards but one seat on the planning commission remains unfilled.
The nominations occurred after recently re-elected Mayor Michael Estes and first-time commissioners Tim Werner, Ross Richardson and Gary Howe took oaths of office following their election-day victories last week.
Werner, Richardson and Howe tallied the most votes out of seven city commission candidates, while an embattled Estes defeated opponent Rick Buckhalter one day after Estes pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of driving while impaired in 86th District Court following his drunken driving arrest last month.
Estes did not mention his arrest or guilty plea during the brief organizational meeting Monday but he did thank voters for their support.
“I look forward to the opportunity to work with my fellow commissioners and to ensure that Traverse City remains the No.1 city in the entire state of Michigan,” Estes said.
Estes appointed Jeanine Easterday and Werner to represent the city commission on the planning board. He also reappointed outgoing planning board member Cecil McNally, and appointed Janet Fleshman and Jody Bergman, a former city commissioner who lost her re-election bid this month, to fill three citizen-at-large seats on that board.
Estes declined to nominate a candidate for a fourth citizen-at-large position. He said, with so many vacancies on the planning commission opening up at once, he wanted to give members of the public more time to apply for the last position.
“I only had two other candidates to interview, and it’s not that there was necessarily anything wrong with those candidates, but I really thought it was important to open this up to the general public if they want to take this opportunity,” Estes said after the meeting.
Outgoing planning board member Jennifer Jaffe will retain her post until the commission revisits the opening in two weeks, Estes said.
City commissioners unanimously approved the appointments to the planning board and every other nomination put forward Monday night, including the appointment of board member Jim Carruthers as the commission’s mayor pro tem.
Carruthers was also nominated to the Traverse City Light & Power board along with Commissioner Barbara Budros. Both currently serve on that board.
Richardson, a former Grand Traverse County commissioner, was appointed to represent the city on the county’s Department of Public Works and Brownfield Redevelopment Authority boards pending approval of the county commission.
Other approved appointments included William Twietmeyer, the city’s treasurer and finance director, as the planning commission’s administrative official, Budros to the Grand Traverse County Township Association, and Easterday and Howe respectively as the city’s representative and alternate to the Michigan Development Corporation board.