Traverse City Record-Eagle


October 27, 2013

Editorial: Estes should delay decision until election

Rhonda Estes has it right. And so does her husband, Traverse City Mayor Mike Estes, who was arrested last week on a misdemeanor drunken driving charge.

When Mike Estes told his wife he wanted to immediately resign as mayor and find out if he could withdraw from his re-election bid prior to the Nov. 5 election, Rhonda Estes urged him to take a couple of days to think about it.

The morning after his arrest, Estes summed up his situation.

‘I’m guilty. I put myself in a terrible position ... and I’m totally at fault,’ he said. “No matter what, this is going to negatively impact my ability to serve as city mayor.”

He was right on both counts. But so was his wife. Despite what Estes did to himself, his family and his political future, he should not compound the error by making a rash decision that could weaken city leadership at a time when there are key decisions to be made.

Rick Buckhalter, Estes’ challenger for mayor, pays close attention to city business and often has something to say about it at city commission meetings.

But in all candor Buckhalter is not mayoral material. In his campaign Buckhalter has been pretty much a one-note candidate — he opposes the proposed merger of the city fire department with the Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department, which serves Acme, East Bay and Garfield townships, something Estes has championed.

Buckhalter has also criticized the downsizing of the police department through recent retirements and says many people perceive the city as unsafe. That’s a rather extreme view not supported by the facts.

Long-shot Commission candidate John Reid, a newcomer to politics who hasn’t voted since 2008, has filed to run as a write-in for mayor. A couple commissioners say they’ve also been urged to jump in to the race. With the election just nine days off, there is no time for voters to make good choices between a host of last-minute additions.

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