Traverse City News and Events

City Names Next Commissioner

By Beth Milligan | Sept. 25, 2018

All seven seats on the Traverse City commission are officially occupied again after board members Monday interviewed candidates and selected an appointee to fill the vacancy created by the August resignation of former Commissioner Brian Haas.

Following two rounds of interviews, commissioners voted 5-1 to appoint Roger Putman to serve the remainder of Haas’ term through November 2019. Commissioner Tim Werner was the sole ‘no’ vote against the motion. Putman, 69, is a 35-year resident of Traverse City and currently serves as the golf tournament coordinator at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa. He previously worked as director of golf at Elmbrook Golf Course and Drummond Island Resort, as well as the executive director of TART Trails.

Putman – whose resume also includes serving as a former avionics technician in the United States Navy and as director of on-course emergency services for the Iceman Cometh bike race – wrote in his application that he believed he had the “professional, ethical, and moral attributes to be considered for serving on the city commission.”

Putman rose to the top of a field of seven candidates who were interviewed for the city commission vacancy. A total of eleven candidates applied for the position; however, two were disqualified for not meeting eligibility requirements, while another two could not make the scheduled interview time Monday and thus were disqualified from the search process. The other six candidates interviewed by commissioners included Diana Bauer, Kathyrn Bertodatto, Tyler Bevier, Rick Buckhalter, Kenneth Funk, and Kathleen Stocking.

In the first round of interviews, each of the six commissioners asked a question of candidates, who all had up to two minutes to respond to questions. The answer order was rotated after each question so that the candidate who answered first or last varied from round to round. Commissioner Amy Shamroe asked candidates what their vision looked like for Traverse City 25 years from now.

“(That) we continue to have a high-quality, public educational system,” was Putman's reply, adding Traverse City should be “not only a wonderful place to live for seniors” but for young families as well. Putman said affordable housing was a key part of that equation. “It’s about our children. It’s more about them than it is us,” he said. Putman also said a “bypass needs to be considered” for the region in the long term to help get traffic “around the city instead of through the city.”

Following the first round of interviews, commissioners each were given four points to distribute among candidates by preference, with the goal of whittling the field down to three finalists. Commissioners could give all four points to one top-choice candidate, or divide points among a few favorites. After City Clerk Benjamin Marentette tabulated the votes, Putman, Bevier, and Bertodatto were named as the finalists. The trio then faced a second round of questioning from commissioners.

Among the questions posed to finalists were whether they had any conflicts of interest serving on the city commission or other city boards, and whether they planned to seek reelection next year when the appointed commission term is up. Putman, who spoke candidly during his interview about having Parkinson’s disease, said he would soon be moving into full-time retirement and had the time and energy to commit to city service, with no conflicts of interest. “The only issue that might affect my running…for the commission (in 2019) would be my health,” he said. But Putman added his Parkinson’s is currently under control with medication and that he saw “nothing in the near future that would preclude” him from running for office.

Putman also responded to questions from commissioners about his approach to handling disagreements and resolving conflict. “I’m a believer in the two-ears, one-mouth philosophy of listening twice as much as you speak. And having Parkinson’s has afforded me a third ear, because I find myself listening more than I do speaking,” Putman said, chuckling. The candidate also said it was important to listen to opposing viewpoints with the assumption “there may be some merit on both sides,” which could help strengthen one’s own views. “It’s important that we listen with empathy and always understand that the knee-jerk reaction will usually elicit hostile results,” he said.

After candidates addressed a variety of other topics – ranging from viewpoints on tall buildings to Airbnb rentals to desired city priorities – commissioners again used a point system to rank the finalists, this time allotting up to seven points to their preferred candidate(s). The final tabulated scores for the candidates were 18 points for Putman, 14 for Bevier, and 10 for Bertodatto. Commissioners then voted and officially approved a motion appointing Putman to the board.

After the meeting, Putman acknowledged the quality of his competition for the commission vacancy. “I was stunned (at being appointed) actually, because listening to a few of the other candidates, there were some very well-answered questions by them,” he told The Ticker. “I’m honored to be selected.”

Putman said his looming retirement helped inspire him to apply for the city commission, saying that rather than being a part of the “Monday morning breakfast club complaining at the diner about the city process” that he wanted to actually get involved and make a difference. “There’s a time in everyone’s life when they have to do something productive,” he said. ”I’ve had a lot of different jobs, and there’s a great deal of satisfaction in public service and doing something that provides for the enhancement of the community.”

Putman is set to be sworn in to office on the Traverse City commission at the start of next Monday’s meeting (October 1) at 7pm at the Governmental Center.

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