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Marysville elects Pyden as new mayor, Winston as new council member

Marysville Mayor Wayne Pyden
Wayne Pyden is Marysville's new mayor.

Hayman and Wessel are reelected

By Jim Bloch

Two fresh faces will be looking out at residents from the Marysville City Council table when it convenes for its regular meeting on Nov. 11.

Wayne Pyden is the city’s new mayor and Shawn Winston is the new member of the council.

Pyden, a former city council rep, ran unopposed and attracted 1,365 votes in the Nov. 5 election. Winston finished third in a four-candidate race for three seats on the council.

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Incumbent Kathy Hayman led the council candidates with 1,129 votes. Fellow incumbent Paul Wessel finished second with 1,109 votes. Winston grabbed the final seat — vacant since August when Rita Hendricks moved to Florida — with 1,068 votes. Mike Deising finished out of the running with 1,010 votes.

Marysville is in the process of aligning its elections with state and national contests, held on even years. As a result, each winner will serve an extra year. The three winning council members will serve one five year term, instead of the normal four-year term. Pyden will serve a three-year term as mayor instead of a two-year term.

Jean Cramer, who quit the race in August after making racist comments at a candidate forum, received 180 votes. Cramer advocated keeping Marysville a white city. Her withdrawal was too late to have her name removed from the ballot.

“Disturbing,” said Winston when asked about her vote total.

Winston was otherwise happy with the outcome.

“There were four good candidates, but the vibe felt good,” said Winston. “It was close all the way around. I felt confident. I’m definitely excited to get started. I see myself as being a good addition to the team. I’ve been attending meetings, so I feel I’ll hit the ground running. I think I’ll fit in well with the group that’s there.”

Pyden replaces three-term mayor Dan Damman.

Pyden’s plan

“There’s four things I’d like to accomplish,” said Pyden.

First, Pyden would like to see the city settle on a plan to fix the city’s local roads.

“We adopted a 2019 road assessment plan last spring and now we have to decide how to fund this,” Pyden said.

He suggested that the city stop picking up half the tab for garbage pickup and put the money toward road repair.

All funding options should before explored before a road millage is considered, he said.

Second, Pyden would like to resolve the city’s unfunded pension liabilities. He would like to convene council members, city administrators and employees and hash out a long-term funding strategy that “won’t break the bank.”

At the start of the 2018-2019 budget year, the fire and police pension fund had assets of about $13,265,000 and stood at 52 percent funded. The general employee pension fund had a net position of $16,358,000 and was over 60 percent funded.

The state requires that pension plans are funded at 60 percent.

Third, Pyden would like the council to review the city charter and suggest updates.

“The charter has been in existence for 58 years,” Pyden said. “It may be time to take a fresh look at it.”

“Fourth, I’d like to develop a plan to attract new businesses and residents to the city,” Pyden said. “We need to grow our tax base.”

The city developed a detailed vision for what it would like to see on the old DTE property on the river. Pyden would like to develop a similar vision for the whole city.

“We have to move at a faster pace than we did before,” he said. “I’d like to sit down with the governor and ask her what her vision is for cities under 25,000.”

Pyden said that all state policies, including legislation and taxation, should be formulated with the goal of supporting a healthy Small Town, America.

The turnout for the Nov. 5 election was 21 percent.

“That’s a shame,” said Pyden

Jim Bloch is an award-winning freelance writer based in St. Clair, Michigan. He writes about the environment, local politics, art, music, history and culture. Contact him at bloch.jim@gmail.com.

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