The 2020 Saginaw City Council Candidate Forum

11 Candidates Vying for 5 Seats with 4-Year Terms

Posted In: Politics, , Candidates,   From Issue 903   By: Robert E Martin

08th October, 2020     0

The government of Saginaw, Michigan is a council-manager form with a mayor selected by members of the city council. Because Saginaw is classified as a home rule city under the Michigan Home Rule Cities Act, it is permitted to exercise ‘home rule powers’ which include the power to frame and adopt its own city charger, which serves as the fundamental law of the city, in a manner similar to a constitution for a national or state government.

The current city charter was adopted in 1936 in response to allegations of corruption of the heads of each department. Pursuant to the city charter, Saginaw is governed by a nine-member elected at-large Council. The term of office for a member of the city council is four years commencing with the first meeting following a regular municipal election. The terms of council members are staggered so that the entire council is not subject to re-election at the same time; alternatively either four or five members are elected in each even-numbered year.

This year for the November 3rd General Election there are 11 Candidates vying for 5 seats with 4-year terms on the Saginaw City Council.  These candidates include:  Ann E. Boensch, Malcolm Clever, Jr., Nathan Collison, George Copeland, Michael Flores, Jamie Forbes, Monique Lamar Silvia, Cirven Don Merrill, John Milne, Tayvell Richmond and Reggie Williams.

Since The REVIEW’s inception back in 1979, we have conducted these Candidate Forums in order to familiarize the voting public with each of the candidates and allow for a more informed electorate.

Unfortunately, for this year’s council race only 4 of the 11 candidates took the time to respond to our Candidate Forum.

Despite this disturbing lack of participation, we hope that you find this Candidate Forum an informative and valuable resource to help assist with making your decision as to whom is best qualified to represent your interests over the next four years.

REVIEW:   What are the personal qualities and professional background that you feel qualifies you for Saginaw City Council and why are you running for this position?

Nathan Collison: As a prosecutor for 5 years, I was one of only 2 assistant prosecutors who actually lived in the city. The other was Demond Tibbs. In that role I sought justice for crime victims and their families in court, and also worked with law enforcement and community leaders through various outreach programs like the safe streets program and conducting trainings for citizen groups and our local law enforcement agencies.

I sit on the riverfront development commission and am a former chairperson. I have co-chaired riverfront beatification day with Clint Bryant since 2014. I also am the president and co-founder of the Saginaw Art Initiative - a domestic non-profit corporation formed to organize and fund the Saginaw Art Fair in Old Town Saginaw. As a board member of the Fordney Club, I also helped raise and direct tens of thousands of dollars to help support youth athletics to many schools and organizations within the city.

John Milne:  A City Councilperson must be able to engage effectively with others. This might mean listening to a citizen's concerns, deliberating policy with other Council members, or representing the City at a community function. Attending and voting at Council meetings is just a small slice of the duties of a Councilman. My thirty plus years of business experience prepared me for all of these facets. Understanding budgets is especially important. I want to be re-elected to put my four years of Council experience together with all that I brought to the job to keep Saginaw moving forward.

Monique Silvia: I 'm a lifelong resident and very compassionate about our city.  I'll bring my honesty, sensitivity, commitment and willingness to serve to the Saginaw City Council.  I'm a civic leader.  I'm known for my leadership role as a community activist with positive results following; and I stand for positive change within our community.   I was voted Saginawian of the Year because of my outstanding work in our community.  I was the former executive director of a non-profit for over 15 years.  I've written and assisted in writing grants (some for multi-million dollars).  I worked on a Quality Improvement Plan for a non-profit in the city of Saginaw with positive results.  I've worked with the Forgotten Man Ministries at the Saginaw County jail and worked with the Prison Re-entry program in Saginaw. 

I'm running for Saginaw City Council because I know that I can work with the council and assist them in bringing our city back to a place where we can be not only proud of it but thrive in it.

REVIEW:   What are the three biggest priorities that need to be addressed in the City of Saginaw and how will your involvement impact and advance improvement of Saginaw's quality of living?

John Milne Our top priorities include continuing to be a Redevelopment Ready City, recovering from the economic and social effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and securing Saginaw's place in a changing political and societal environment. The first means staying focused on attracting new business investment by removing barriers to approving permits, updating zoning and using appropriate incentives to make us an attractive place to grow. The pandemic response is often driven by events beyond local control, but we must be alert to new funding sources to replace lost revenues, implementing new programs to assist residents, and making changes, some temporary, some permanent in how we operate and interact with the public. My involvement includes approving policy changes and helping to present these to the public. Our biggest challenge is to maintain the momentum of improvement we have brought about in recent years.

Monique Silvia: The 3 biggest priorities that need to be addressed in the City of Saginaw in my opinion are: 1) community resources for Saginaw youth.  2) board liaisons for all government funded boards (transparency)  3) revamping city services for the less fortunate.  My involvement will impact and advance and improve the City of Saginaw quality of living by all of my transparency and being a voice not only for myself but to actually be the voice for Saginaw citizens to the city council.  I'll be concerned about the issues that face our city and seek out services and dollars to enhance our city.  

Nathan Collison:  1. Unfunded pension liabilities.  2. Accessibility to healthy food.  3. Public safety.

I have been a longtime advocate for the citizens of Saginaw, and I have been fortunate to make many connections in both the private and public sector with people and groups that are dedicated to the health, viability, and sustainability of our City and its citizens. I will use my experience, relationships, legal knowledge, and tireless work ethic to do everything I can to improve the quality of life in Saginaw.

REVIEW:   What is the most pressing issue that you feel the City of Saginaw faces over the next four years?

Monique Silvia: One of the most pressing issues i feel the city of Saginaw faces the next 4 years is the relationship between the citizens and law enforcement.  I believe that communication is one of the key components to a more viable relationship between the citizens and law enforcement.  Right now, not only is the state, but our nation is facing unrest because of the lack of trust or the breakdown in trust with law enforcement.  I believe we need to take a pro-active approach to this  issue so we won't become a re-active community with law enforcement.  Our citizens needs to know (as I do) that not all or nearly all of law enforcement is negative and law enforcement must know that not all citizens are criminals.

Nathan Collison: Over the next four years the City is facing an unfunded pension liability crisis. The City made a promise to its employees, and they dedicated their careers to serving our City based on this promise. The city must diversify and increase its revenue stream in order to guarantee that these promises are kept. Doing this will also attract talented young people who want to dedicate their careers to public service.

John Milne:  The most pressing issue is to deal with the change in Saginaw's population, both our total and it's changing demographic. When the current Census count underway is finalized, we will find our City in a changed position, locally and at the State and National levels. This affects funding decisions, political representation, and businesses, both existing and proposed, in where they want to locate. At the local level, changes in demographics can lead to calls for a greater voice in civic affairs by groups of rising population, while also leading to requests from existing constituencies not to lose their place in a changing community. All this takes place against a backdrop of scarce resources, competing needs, and the uncertainties of a future more than a few months away. This is where leadership counts, to take all this into account and forge a consensus to make the best possible decisions.  I would also like to thank The REVIEW for this opportunity to present my views and positions.

Michael Flores: We are at a point in our city’s history where change in the structure of our City Council is essential to the health and benefit of all of us residents. Prior to this 2020 campaign where we have many great newcomers and one passionate and earnest appointed incumbent, there was a lack of energy and attention to the past races that ended up deciding who were elected to govern our city. This election, we can VOTE FOR FIVE - and change the entire structure of our Saginaw City Council. We can help make our City Police more robust, we can safeguard our land from outside powers looking to facilitate land grabs, and we can use our resources to help folks that have been left out of the conversation get a real shot at being upper-middle class citizens. Like I end every conversation I have - Saginaw we can do this.






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