TRAVERSE CITY — The political pundits refer to 2013 as a “non-election” year because it offers a brief but welcome respite from a seemingly never-ending campaign cycle for state and federal office.
But here in the Traverse City area, it’s a very big election year with the Nov. 5 election just a couple weeks away. Within Traverse City, there’s plenty at stake for local residents and businesses as three commissioner seats and the mayoral post on the City Commission are up for grabs – a majority of the seven-member commission. Across the Traverse City Area Public Schools district, its long-term capital projects plan hangs in the balance in a two-part bond millage sought by the district.
It’s not at all a stretch to suggest that these decisions facing local voters will shape our community for years - potentially decades - to come. The Traverse City Area Chamber won’t tell you which candidates to vote for, as it’s our job to work with whichever candidates get elected. But there’s plenty for voters to think about before casting their ballots. In the city races, there’s been a lot of focus on issues like sidewalks, streets and the appropriate number of city festivals. These are detail subjects that – while important – let candidates dwell on narrow topics while potentially skirting more fundamental discussions on where the city is today and more importantly where it’s headed.
The city is fortunate that, in recent years anyway, a majority of the city commission understood the important role local business has played in the success the city enjoys today. The city has invested in public parking, attractive streets and advanced public-private partnerships that helped its downtown – which was on shaky ground just a generation ago – evolve into one of the most-popular central business districts in Michigan. It embraced tax abatements and other incentives to help our local manufacturers compete across the globe.