GRAND HAVEN, Mich, (WOOD) — The people of Grand Haven will choose a new mayor Nov. 5.
City council members Josh Brugger and Bob Monetza are in the running after they earned more votes than the current mayor, Geri McCaleb, in the August primary. McCaleb has held the office for eight years.
News 8 sat down with the candidates separately to ask about key issues facing the city, like the need for affordable housing.
“The housing that we do have is not so affordable compared to the other communities,” Monetza said. “It’s something that we need to work on because we feel people who want to live in Grand Haven should live here.”
“Lowering property taxes is one piece of the puzzle,” Brugger said in response to the same question. “Another piece is reducing zoning regulations that restrict the kind of houses that can be built in Grand Haven.”
The city is also working to pay off a nearly $50 million debt that was used to pay for infrastructure projects over the years. Each candidate spoke about the debt issue, offering ideas on the most efficient way to pay it off and borrowing methods going forward.
“As small business owner, I recognize that borrowing to grow your business or in this case town is sometimes necessary but there are certain things that are routine that need to be taken care of through traditional good solid financial practices,” Brugger said.
Monetza said that though the amount of debt seems like a lot, it was necessary to aid the city in completing vital projects.
“We had a lot of projects that were really overdue. We had a lot of things that needed to be done that were only going to get more expensive as we waited,” he started. “So we took care of a lot of it and we did incur some debt, but we had voter-approved dedicated revenue streams to cover it.”
Each candidate has served on the city council for several years. Asked why they believe they could serve the city better as mayor, Brugger said he would offer a fresh perspective.
“I’m at a unique position as a Generation X representative to bridge the gap between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials who are coming up behind us,” Brugger said.
Monetza said it would be a natural progression in his service to the city.
“I’m not looking at this like a stepping stone. I’m not moving on. I’m really dedicated to serving the people of Grand Haven,” Monetza said.
Citizens will have the opportunity to cast their ballots for Grand Haven mayor on Nov. 5.
You can find your polling place and check out a sample ballot online at the Michigan Secretary of State’s Voter Information Center.