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Algonac council appoints Dale Williams to vacant seat

Photo courtesy of cityofalgonac.org Members of the Algonac City Council posed questions to candidate Dale Williams who sought to fill a vacant seat on the council.

Lifelong city resident is a police dispatcher in Clay Township

By Barb Pert Templeton

The Algonac City Council has a full board again as officials voted Dale Williams in as a new councilman at a June 4 meeting. 

Five candidates applied to fill the seat vacated by former Councilman Corey Blair who had a work conflict that prevented him from finishing out his term, which expires in November 2024. 

Williams will be seated at his first meeting with the council on Tuesday, June 18 and will serve until the General Election on Tuesday, Nov. 5. 

During public comments, prior to the item coming up on the recent meeting’s agenda, former City Councilman Jacob Skarbek told officials, after describing all the candidates for the seat as “phenomenal,” that he felt the council needed someone that knows what’s going on in the city right now. 

“I have my full support behind Terry (Stoneburner) on this one because I think she knows everything that’s going on, the projects and where the future is going as of right now and I’m asking all of you guys to consider Terry Stoneburner for the appointment tonight,” Skarbek said. 

The voting process was then read by Mayor Rocky Gillis who said it would be done by ballot with each official ranking their choices by putting a three for their first choice, a two for second and a one for third.

Councilman Michael Bembas questioned the voting method stating he didn’t recall them doing it that way in the past. 

City Manager Denice Gerstenberg said they have voted in that manner before when they voted for a citizen of the year to which Bembas said yes but then they switched the method back to the old way.

“I like it this way,” Councilwoman Cathy Harris said.

“I do to, but I just want if we’re going to do it this way it has to be the same way all the time, not Helter Skelter or if we feel like it,” Bembas said.

Gerstenberg said officials should put that rule in their organizational notes. 

Gillis then said they used to do a shout-out method where the loudest voice nominated someone and that wasn’t as fair as doing it by ballot. 

The five candidates were then called up to the podium, in alphabetical order, and officials posed questions to them. Candidate Polly Barbour was first followed by Joanne Dare, Deborah Jo Green, Stoneburner, and Williams.

Bembas led the questions and posed the same trio to all the candidates including:

  1. What would your priorities be as a council person?
  2. What have they done so far for the community?
  3. If you don’t get this council seat, would they apply to be on a city board?

The other members of the council posed a number of questions to the candidates as well prior to voting. 

The interview portion of the meeting lasted more than an hour and all of the candidates spoke to the council and responded to questions. 

Council votes for the candidates

Following the interviews and prior to casting their votes, Bembas said he thought maybe the candidates might want to add something to their initial comments since not everyone got the same questions posed to them. Martin agreed. 

At that time Stoneburner stepped to the podium and said she was disappointed that she wasn’t asked about establishing a Recreation Department for the city and that’s she’s very much for it. She also stated that she’s kept up with the issues and was ready to sit down at the very next council meeting and start making decisions. 

Bembas then stated that the decision by the council would be a very difficult one. He added that the candidates need to remember that a vote for somebody else is not a vote against them, perhaps someone was simply more qualified. 

Clerk Lisa Borgacz and Gerstenberg tallied the votes and they were as follows: 

  • Carter: 3 Barbour, Williams 2, Stoneburner 1
  • Gillis: Stoneburner 3, Williams 2, Barbour 1
  • Harris: Williams 3, Green 2, Stoneburner 1
  • Bembas: Stoneburner 3, Barbour 2, Williams 1
  • Martin: Williams 3, Stoneburner 2, Barbour 1
  • Davey: Willimas 3, Green 2, Stoneburner 1

Candidate Barbour got seven votes, Green, four, Stoneburner, 11 and Williams 14 votes, appointing him to the seat.

Officials then voted Williams into office and congratulated him prior to his swearing in. 

Meet new Councilman Dale Williams

Williams told officials he was born and raised in the city of Algonac and has been in the city for nearly 39 years. He said he started a lawn service business and then switched careers to law enforcement and is now a dispatcher and reserve police officer in Clay Township. 

In reply to Bembas’ question about what his priorities are Williams said he sees a divide in the community right now and would like to help bring the community back together. He’s also very pro swimming pool and having grow up using it he’s in favor of it being reopened. 

Bembas also asked “why in the world” Williams would like to be a member of the city council. 

“Well to serve the community, I’m not a very political person but it’s a way to give back to a city that’s given me so much,” Williams said. 

Davey asked him how he felt the council could better open up communication between them and the public. Williams said he thought questions posed by the public during public comments should be answered at the time by the council, not set aside for a response at a later time.

“If there’s 20 people in here and one person asking the question now you have 19 people that are going to take that and run with it and say you did nothing,” Williams said. 

Harris asked how the council could show that they care about what the citizens have to say.

Williams reiterated that speaking back to them after they pose questions or concerns doing public comments could go a long way to solve that problem. 

To view the full interviews with all five candidates for the open council seat go to City of Algonac on YouTube. 

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