Traverse City Record-Eagle

June 1, 2013

Young candidates running for office

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — The city commission is guaranteed to add new faces this year, and some could be considerably younger than the current cast.

Four people whose ages range from 28 to 45 obtained nominating petitions for three city commission slots that will be up for grabs in November. Two current commissioners, Mike Gillman and Mary Ann Moore, said they will not seek re-election.

“We’ve done our time,” Moore said. “It’s time to make room for the young ones.”

John Reid, 28, Bradley Matson, 28, Gary Howe, 40, and Tim Werner, 44, obtained nominating petitions for the commission, a precursor to securing a spot on the November ballot. Howe and Werner are members of the city’s planning commission; Matson and Reid have no prior political experience.

“I love the town and love the city and just want to bring a little bit of a younger opinion to the board,” said Reid, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran and sales manager for a sign company.

Matson, a Traverse City native who recently returned to the city after working in Arizona, is part of the group Think TC that’s focused on making Traverse City attractive to young families. The group wants to see some younger voices on a commission where Jim Carruthers, 50, checks in as its youngest member.

“I think the more diverse the group the better, and the lack of younger people is a major drawback,” Matson said.

Carruthers said its “cool” that some younger people have stepped up.

“The city commission’s old guard has always been mostly people who are retired,” Carruthers said. “We are always trying to get younger people involved, so I think it’s interesting that people are putting their names forward.”

Matson, a web page developer who runs a cooperative office space downtown, said his group is weighing different candidates and he’s not yet committed to running.

Howe also hasn’t yet made a decision. Nor has incumbent Jody Bergman, the commission’s longest-serving member with eight years of experience.

“I’m waiting to see who throws their hats in the ring, maybe,” Bergman said.

“And just because we’re old doesn’t mean our voice isn’t young,” she said.

Werner, who missed election to the city commission in 2011 by 165 votes, said he’s running again for the same reasons.

“I love Traverse City. It’s a great city, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make it better,” he said.

The mayor’s job also is up for grabs in November, but so far incumbent Michael Estes has no challengers.

Two potential mayoral candidates, former city commissioner Scott Hardy and former county commissioner Ross Richardson, both said they have no interest in the job if Estes wants it for another two-year term.

Candidates have until Aug. 13 to turn in nominating petitions with 70 valid signatures to make the November ballot. There is no primary.