City search for new county board candidate indicates reluctance to enter politics

The city of Hastings will begin the process of appointing a new member of city council after Ward 1 representative Theresa Maupin-Moore announced her resignation in December.

City manager Sarah Moyer-Cale said the city will start soliciting applications for the position this week.

Those interested should apply before January 21. Moyer-Cale said she plans to fill the vacant position in February.

The position comes with few requirements, although the applicant must be a resident of Ward 1 and a registered voter.

Mayor David Tossava said he specifically wanted someone who is involved in the community of Hastings.

“I’m going to look for someone who really wants to do this,” he said. “I don’t want someone who just wants to be on the board like a cut in their belt. I want someone who really wants to represent the people of their parish.

But Tossava said he was concerned about the number of requests. He speaks from experience: he has spent the last few weeks trying to find people interested in serving as the new county commissioner for Hastings. The recent county-level realignment allows the city to elect its own commissioner to take a new seat after sharing one with the township for the past 11 years.

The mayor said he discovered that most of the people he spoke to were reluctant to run for the new commissioner position, making him suspicious of the city’s ability to find residents interested in it. opening of the board.

He would be surprised, Tossava added, if the city receives more than three nominations.

“I don’t think we’re going to see people come out of the woods to run,” he said. “I think you’re going to find one or two people who are really interested in doing it and then we’ll have to choose between them.”

Tossava said he believed the current political climate had discouraged some people from holding public office.

“I think with the way the environment is right now, people don’t want to get involved in politics,” he said.

There is a difference at the city council level, however. City council members are non-partisan, which means they have no party affiliation. Tossava said he was looking for a “free thinker”.

“I think you always hear these people who are Democrats and Republicans. They believe in a way, they’ve been brainwashed that way, taught their whole life to believe that way. And I think that’s a lot of the problems we have, ”he said.

The board must fill Maupin-Moore’s position within 45 days of his resignation on February 1. After receiving the nominations, the board will meet at its January 24 meeting to discuss next steps, which would likely include an interview process. The appointee would hold the position until the fall 2022 general election, when they are expected to stand for election.

“We are trying to find someone within a reasonable time,” Moyer-Cale said. “But we are not determined to put anyone in this position by February 1. It might be a little heavier than we can chew on.

“We don’t want to rush things. “

Many in town hall were surprised by Maupin-Moore’s resignation.

“I’m flabbergasted, to be honest with you,” Tossava said at the December 28 meeting.

Moyer-Cale said she first learned the news when Maupin-Moore broke it to city council.

Maupin-Moore had spent six years in the role. She is the current Eden coordinator at Thornapple-Manor.

A resident of Hastings for nearly two decades, she previously held positions with the Barry County Commission on Aging and Barry County Substance Abuse Services.

“I’ve had a few phone calls with people who have come to ask me why I quit,” Maupin-Moore said at last Tuesday’s meeting. “Still not ready to talk about it extremely in public. However, it has nothing to do with my health, new job, and / or new health issues with my family. So thanks to those who called and asked. But it’s not related to family and / or work.

In other news, the city council:

– Approval of a new contract with Mercy Ambulance. The decision brought tears to Mercy’s eyes Director / Treasurer Rodney Palmer took the floor to thank City Council.

“This doesn’t happen without the town of Hastings,” he said of the contract in an interview with The Banner after the meeting. “BIRCH Fire is a great neighborhood and there are a lot of trails, but the town of Hastings is the core that holds that together so we have enough to do so that we can keep our doors open. “

The new five-year contract will be free for the Town of Hastings.

– Allocation of $ 94,993.00 to C&D Hughes for the construction of sidewalks and driveways along the M-43 west of the city.

– Accepted the 2021 audit of the city’s finances. The city received the highest possible rating.

– Hired Prein & Newhof, a Grand Rapids-based civil engineering firm, to produce the city’s capital improvement plan for an amount not to exceed $ 25,740.

“Project planning is one of the greatest needs of the City as an organization,” Sarah Moyer-Cale wrote to City Council. “Lack of comprehensive planning, especially in coordinating projects identified by existing utility department plans, can seriously undermine the city’s ability to function and function in a way that best meets public expectations. Lack of planning can and has led to substantial increases in tariffs and charges as well as increased project costs.

Prein & Newhof’s greatest responsibility will include coordinating the five- and ten-year capital improvement plans. Moyer-Cale noted a number of plans that were not implemented, including those relating to the results of “the PASER rating, the SAW study, the water reliability study, the of water resources management, the park and recreation master plan ”.

“The primary goal of an outside firm update of our capital improvement plan is to facilitate our strategy to complete these projects and to minimize emergency / unforeseen expenses,” Moyer-Cale wrote. “This will be accomplished in a way that City staff can update on an annual basis without the need for outside help.

“Frankly, we are so behind in the overall planning that the staff do not have time to effectively update it ourselves before the budget and the upcoming construction season. ”

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