Here’s Who’s Running For City Commission
By Beth Milligan | July 21, 2021
Seven candidates will vie for five open seats on the Traverse City commission this fall. With Mayor Jim Carruthers not seeking reelection, Richard Lewis -– a former city manager and former city commissioner – is running unopposed for mayor. Also headed to likely victories are three candidates running for three available four-year seats, including incumbent Tim Werner and newcomers Mi Stanley and Mark Wilson. Meanwhile, three candidates – Tim Pulliam, Merek Roman, and Mitchell Treadwell – will compete for one partial two-year seat opening up when Commissioner Roger Putman steps down in November.
Candidates have until 4pm Friday to withdraw their filings, after which point the city clerk’s office will certify all names for placement on the ballot. Here are the candidates – and issues – likely headed to the ballot this fall.
Mayor (1 Seat Available, 1 Candidate Running)
A long-time fixture in local politics appears to be on track to become the next mayor of Traverse City. Richard Lewis, who served as city commissioner from 2015 to 2019 and previously served as city manager for Traverse City for 17 years and St. Joseph for two years, is running unopposed for the seat being vacated by Mayor Jim Carruthers. Carruthers considered running for the partial-term seat open on the commission, but tells The Ticker that after 22 years of city service, he's decided to step away to focus on his health and family. “It was a hard decision, but as they say, family comes first,” Carruthers says. “I will stay involved somehow and will always be a political activist and keep a close eye on our city and how we grow.”
For his part, Lewis – who currently serves on the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority (DDA) board – says he wants to leverage his institutional knowledge of the city to contribute to some of the looming major projects ahead, ranging from a new master plan to tackling major infrastructure upgrades. While elected officials with long-time experience sometimes face temptation to get overly involved in day-to-day staff operations, Lewis says he’ll just be “one of seven voices” as mayor on the commission and has a clear sense of separation between elected and staff roles. “I like to think I can be an asset to Marty (Colburn, city manager) and the next Traverse City Light and Power director and the DDA director, but in the end they’re the ones hired to take it forward,” he says. “I’d just like to be there to be part of it and help move things along.”
With so much turnover looming on the city commission, Lewis says it’ll be important this fall for the new group of commissioners to collaboratively set strategic goals early on and stay focused on those priorities the next two years. Lewis is hopeful he can serve at least two terms as mayor, noting that most commissioners serve four-year terms and that he plans to run again in 2023 so he can serve for the same time period. That could set up a showdown in 2023 between Lewis and Mayor Pro Tem Amy Shamroe, who previously told The Ticker she will also run for mayor next term.
Full-Term (3 Seats Available, 3 Candidates Running)
With Commissioners Brian McGillivary and Christie Minervini announcing they will not seek reelection this fall, two new seats will be available on the board. Meanwhile, Tim Werner – whose term is also expiring – will seek reelection. More details on the candidates here:
Mi Stanley was born and raised in Traverse City, graduating from Traverse City Central High School and spending two years at Northwestern Michigan College before transferring to Michigan State University. After a year of AmeriCorps service, she spent 15 years in Syracuse, earning a Master of Fine Arts degree from and teaching at Syracuse University before she “boomeranged” back to Traverse City in 2017. Stanley is now the communications and marketing manager for Traverse Health Clinic and says she felt a “responsibility to my hometown to step up to the plate” after being encouraged by other community members to run for city commission.
Tim Werner is seeking a third term on the city commission, telling The Ticker the departure of so many incumbents this fall prompted him to run again to help provide continuity and momentum on the board. He currently serves on the Traverse City Light & Power board and has previously served on the city planning commission. Werner cites the redevelopment of city surface parking lots for housing, action to address climate change, and “buried infrastructure” as key issues on his radar. “Those three things taken together, I feel like we have so much potential and we’re starting to head in the right direction,” he says. “I’d like to continue to be a part of that process.”
Mark Wilson is a “lifelong, multiple intergenerational resident of the area” and holds a master’s in public administration from Central Michigan University. He is currently vice chair of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians Tribal Council and is completing the second of two four-year terms on that board (he doesn’t plan to seek reelection when his term is up there in May). “As a lifelong resident, it’s been a dream of mine to give back to the community, and one of the best ways I can do that is by giving my time to help in solving the complex issues of our city,” he says. Wilson says he has a strong belief in “sustainable growth,” saying he wants to “make sure our capacity matches the influx of people who want to move here and enjoy what Traverse City has to offer.”
Half-Term (1 Seat Available, 3 Candidates Running)
Three candidates will compete for a partial two-year seat being vacated by Commissioner Roger Putman, who is stepping down in November for health reasons:
Tim Pulliam is the co-founder and president of Keen Technical Solutions, a Traverse City-based company focused on energy conservation strategies and solutions. Pulliam has an associate’s degree in construction management and is a licensed mechanical contractor and boiler installer. He is a frequent cyclist competitor and active in the local outdoor community. Pulliam has drawn on his experience in the energy industry to contribute to the city’s Green Team, an advisory group charged with recommending sustainability projects. “I’m so proud of the community we have,” says Pulliam. “One place I feel a little bit let down is in all of the chaos that surrounds our local politics…we’re at a time where there’s going to be a ton of opportunity, and I want to be there to help set that direction.”
Merek Roman is a Glen Arbor native and analytical engineer with a master’s degree in applied economics from John Hopkins University’s Advanced Academic Programs and a JP Morgan Center for Commodities Certificate from the University of Colorado Denver. He has extensive experience in the oil and gas industry, having previously worked for Baker Hughes for nearly nine years, and hopes to put his energy and commodities experience to good use on the commission. “I want to deliver electricity in the most efficient way possible at the lowest price for rate-payers, whether that’s through oil and gas or the city’s green energy goals,” he says. Roman has served as a substitute teacher for Glen Lake Community Schools, is part of the Cherry Capital Toastmasters, and is a Boy Scouts scoutmaster.
Mitchell Treadwell is a landscaper and river steward who attended Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University and is currently president of the Central Neighborhood Association. Treadwell serves on multiple city boards, including Parks and Recreation, the Traverse City Housing Commission, and the Board of Zoning Appeals. “While I've long spoke out on city issues ranging from public art to trash management in parks to addressing stormwater,” he says, “the past year has made it apparent the city needs to do more to tackle affordable housing, diversifying our economy, and paying city employees a living wage so that departments can better fill vacancies.”
City commissioners Monday approved putting language on the November ballot to increase the city manager’s spending authority. The charter amendment would change the amount the city manager can spend on a single transaction without city commission approval from a flat $9,000 – which it has been for 16 years, since 2005 – to a percentage of the general fund’s budgeted expenses each year: up to one-tenth of one percent, which would equal roughly $19,700 this fiscal year. The move is intended to keep up with inflation and mirror spending policies in other city departments.
Any other ballot proposals would need to be approved by city commissioners by August 10 to be included in the November 2 election. No additional issues have yet been proposed or discussed by the commission. City Attorney Lauren Trible-Laucht told The Ticker Tuesday that the FishPass project at the Union Street Dam site is unlikely to appear on the ballot for voter approval this go-round, citing the unresolved nature of litigation still unfolding around the project.
Picture (clockwise from top left): Mi Stanley, Tim Werner, Mark Wilson, Richard Lewis, Merek Roman, Mitchell Treadwell, Tim PulliamComment