Marine City’s newest official shares ideas for future
By Barb Pert Templeton
When you put your name on a ballot seeking votes from members of your community you never know how things will turn out. Yet when Michael Hilferink sought a seat on the Marine City Commission in the recent Nov. 8 general election, he was pleasantly surprised to be the top vote-getter among five candidates, collecting 816 nods of approval.
“I did not expect to have the support I did,” Hilferink said in a recent email. “But I think those numbers are a testament to exactly how the residents feel about some of the recent leadership decisions that were made for the city, and that is that people are tired of being told what is best for them, and not being respected.”
A 38-year-old college graduate, owner of an e-commerce company, and father of a high school-aged daughter, Hilferink has been very active in local politics over the last few years. He often attended both city council and school board meetings to share his thoughts during the public comments potion of those meeting agendas.
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Elected to serve a four-year term on the commission, Hilferink feels he’s a voice for the average citizen and asked lots of questions at his first official meeting on Nov. 17. He also shared some thoughts during the commissioner privilege portion of the meeting.
“How awesome it is to be on this board and I thank everybody here for the privilege to serve with you and I thank everyone that voted for me,” Hilferink said. “I’m really, really, really excited for the future of this city, super optimistic.”
He added that the meetings of the commission lately have had “a very combative tone” and he’s even heard that people have watched parties with drinks to view the commission meetings while laughing at the commission which he feels is very unfortunate, he’d like to see professionalism return to the table.
“Just to restore some respect back to this council; we don’t have to like each other, what we do have to do is get along because the last thing we want to do is just produce more black eyes for this city,” Hilferink stated.
The new commissioner took the time to answer some questions posed by Blue Water Healthy Living about the direction he’d like to see them headed in going forward.
Blue Water Healthy Living: Congratulations Mr. Hilferink, what will be your first order of business as city commissioner?
Hilferink: The first priority for me personally on the council is just to do my best to establish an environment that is conducive to a productive and respected board, a board that the community can be proud of. We don’t have to like each other, but we can’t forget what job we are doing, and the people that look to us as leaders, so we have to be able to work well together for the people of Marine City.
BWHL: Any thoughts on what issues you’d like to see tackled first once you’re sworn into office on Nov. 17?
Hilferink: I hope we can find a better balance with respect to business development and addressing residents’ needs. We have a lot of outside influence in the city as shown by the nasty attack mailer ads that were sent out, so everyone has to be sure to remain active, informed, and engaged in our city’s issues, as it is the single best way to ensure that the people of the city’s thoughts and concerns come first.
BWHL: What do you think some of those concerns might be right now?
Hilferink: Business needs to be addressed, really taking a deep dive into what options we have to get some more roads fixed without raising people’s taxes is for sure a big priority. Also establishing more parks in the city is a big one. We are currently working on grant applications to submit to the state for this very thing, which should bring a couple hundred thousand dollars of state money to the city, which is awesome.
BWHL: What about the former commission’s recent decision to change to once-a-month, Monday-night meetings? Any thoughts on changing that back to twice a month on Thursdays?
Hilferink: The number of meetings absolutely has to change back to twice a month; government decisions already move slow as it is. Citizens often have issues that need to be addressed expeditiously, and they should have the opportunity to address those issues with us more than once a month. We will be exploring this change at our next council meeting.
BWHL: Any final thoughts?Hilferink: We are a smart, strong bunch in MC, and I couldn’t be prouder of everyone in the city for showing up at the polls and having their voice heard by voting for myself and also Rita Roehrig, I am very appreciative. We actually were six full points higher than the state with respect to voter turnout, which is so awesome to see.