2011-04-09 / Top News

Voters To Consider City Candidates

Election Is May 3
By Karen Gould


Gabe Cowell Gabe Cowell Election Is May 3

More than 600 voters are registered to cast ballots in the Tuesday, May 3 election, one of the most contested elections in years.

Voters will decide if Mayor Margaret Doud, who has held the office for 36 years, will be unseated by political newcomer Gabriel Cowell, and who among Armin Porter, Allan Arbib, Ben Horn, and Anneke Myers will win two seats on the city council. The city clerk’s office is also being contested, with incumbent Karen Lennard challenged by Linda Price.

Unopposed are treasurer Rick Lynn, assessor Bob Benser, and supervisor Ron Dufina, all running for one-year terms.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is 2 p.m. Saturday, April 30. Polls will be open May 3 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the second floor of Community Hall.

A major issue facing the politicians and the community is the formulation of new ferry boat franchise rules, discussion of which has fractured political and even social harmony and led to ongoing legal challenges in federal district court and the Michigan Public Service Commission.


Margaret Doud Margaret Doud The city has also focused on historic preservation and is considering whether to establish a commercial historic district downtown and a residential historic district from Market Street to the school. The community could decide this summer whether historic preservation is worth the price in a competitive tourist market.

The city’s Department of Public Works is preparing for a $4 million wastewater treatment plant upgrade. The city council and the Board of Public Works met on the matter a year ago and are expected to resume discussions this spring. New construction on the Island has been limited by the capacity of the wastewater treatment facility, which is just fine with many residents but aggravating to developers, who see wasted opportunities.


Allan Arbib Allan Arbib Candidates share their ideas below.

MAYOR Two candidates for one office.

Term is for one year.

Gabriel “Gabe” Cowell

Mayoral candidate Gabriel “Gabe” Cowell was born and grew up on Mackinac Island, where he has lived for 33 years. He and his partner, Tracy Quinter, have four children, Justin, 15, Ella, 8, Matthew, 6, and Kaylee, 3. Mr. Cowell has worked at the solid waste handling facility for eight years. Previously, he worked at Doud’s Market and has held other jobs around Mackinac Island.

What do you want the ferryboat franchise to accomplish?


Ben Horn Ben Horn “I think this franchise fee [7%] is too much for all the boat lines,” he said. “I want to keep the prices down for everybody to come over here, but by virtue of raising their franchise fee, I don’t think is going to help in that matter. I think it’s going to come back and slap all of us in the face in the end when it’s all said and done.”

He has concerns that all three boat companies, Arnold Transit, Star Line, and Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry, will not be able to operate with the extended daily service and all will go out of business and that is something he does not want to happen.


Anneke Myers Anneke Myers He thinks ticket prices and fees both need to be kept lower, however, without knowing the costs of the ferry companies, he said, it is not possible to determine if the price of tickets is too high.

“It’s not just the tickets that are keeping the people away,” he said. The cost to stay overnight and the food prices are high compared to deals visitors can get on the mainland.

What is a major Mackinac Island issue you would like to address in the next year?


Armin Porter Armin Porter Tax money the city spends to clean the streets is an issue he would like to evaluate in the coming year. He thinks the city could save some money by having it done more efficiently.

“The money we’re spending on cleaning the streets on the Island has gotten a little out of hand,” he said. “That’s a big thing with the people I’ve talked to, residents, are also in agreement with me. To my knowledge, the city doesn’t even own any horses, so why are they having tax dollars pay for that.”

What do you see as the benefits and drawbacks of each of the historic districts proposed?


Karen Lennard Karen Lennard “I like the idea of the historical districts and putting some control over what can happen on the Island with buildings,” he said. “I’m in the same boat with a lot of people that this should have been thought of probably 50 years ago. Really, when you go through town and you look at it, you see condominiums, that’s not historical. Tin roofs, that’s not historical.


Linda Price Linda Price “So to do whatever they can to save the Island, I think is a great idea. If it comes down to this is going to help the Island keep its historical value and it’s going to put a stop to building this condo or this big hotel, I think that’s a great idea. Right now, we don’t need all that stuff. We need to keep it as it is, the uniqueness of the Island. You can’t go anywhere else and get this.

“I’ve lived here my whole life and I love that,” he said. “I love it over here and I’d like to keep it as historical as possible. It benefits the people that are coming to the Island, and the people of the Island.”

Do you believe the water and sewer capacity should be expanded to allow more growth on the Island?

“If it were for residents, people living here year-around, then I’d like to see that grow, but I don’t want to see more hotels, more condominiums,” he said. “I just don’t think that’s something that needs to be brought over anymore. I think we’ve got enough of them here on the Island. We’ve got a lot of them that are just sitting empty and it’s unfortunate and they keep wanting to build more. You’re going to get it to a point where the Island residents won’t be able to afford to live here anymore. It’s going to be too expensive and I’d hate to see that.”

Keeping Mackinac Island affordable for families is important, he said.

“I just want to try to keep the Island the way it is without all the building and construction that’s been going on,” said Mr. Cowell. “I’m big on the history here on the Island. I want to keep this a place for my kids to raise their families, if I could.”

The city, he said, should focus on making improvements to the facility rather than expansion.

“I don’t think it necessarily needs to be expanded,” he said. “I think we should probably stand back and look at it and see what kind of improvements we can make. I think just by virtue of looking at it and seeing what we can improve here and there, a little bit at a time, then later on if the time calls for it, then we could expand, but I just don’t see the point in doing it right now. It’s just not to that point. The economy’s not doing very well and I just think that we need to ride it out for now before we start investing a bunch of money into big projects like that.”

Do you see anything that the city can do to make the visitor experience better?

Mr. Cowell said more activities through the Recreation Department are needed for children and families.

What is a major improvement the city can make to improve the quality of life for year-around residents?

He’d like to see taxes lowered.

Margaret Doud

Margaret Doud has served as Mackinac Island mayor for the last 36 years. She was appointed to the post by City Council in 1974 and since then has been elected annually. In addition to leading city council meetings, she participates in committee meetings, including finance, streets and public safety, transportation, and ordinance.

Ms. Doud grew up on Mackinac Island and attended the Thomas W. Ferry School through ninth grade. She was graduated from St. Mary’s Academy of Monroe and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education in 1967 from Central Michigan University.

She taught elementary education for two years in Petoskey and four years at Mackinac Island Public School. Today, she manages the Windermere Hotel and Windermere Doghouse, positions she stepped into in 1974.

She is a founding member of the Mackinac Island Community Foundation and a member of the Mackinac Island Medical Center board, Ste. Anne’s Parish Council, co-chair of the Mackinac Straits Health System Foundation, and secretary/treasurer of Mackinac Straits Health System, Inc.

What do you want the ferryboat franchise to accomplish?

Ms. Doud would like to see lower fares and a better spring, summer, and fall ferry schedule that includes ice-to-ice service.

Eventually, she would like to see revenue earned from the franchise help lower city taxes and increase the city’s financial support of the Mackinac Island Medical Center.

What is a major Mackinac Island issue you would like to address in the next year?

“Now that the Master Plan has been completed, I would like to continue to work with the business community, year-around residents, and summer residents to deal with many issues such as historic issues, upgrades to roads, new streetlights, traffic control, and rebuilding the Island infrastructure,” said Mayor Doud. “It continues to be a work in progress.”

What do you see as the benefits and drawbacks of each of the historic districts proposed?

She says she has appreciation for the work underway with the Historic Study Committee and the Historic District Commission.

“This process has enlightened many people to the importance the buildings contribute to the history of Mackinac,” she said. “There will be an inventory of all the contributing and noncontributing buildings in each district. We have to realize that we live in a living, breathing community in a very unique setting. We can never lose sight of our historic beginnings and we all have to work together to help preserve Mackinac.”

Do you believe the water and sewer capacity should be expanded to allow more growth on the Island?

“There are no plans at this time to expand the water plant,” she said. “The proposed plan for the sewer plant is an upgrade to the oldest portions of the facility and not an expansion.”

Do you see anything that the city can do to make the visitor experience better?

The city has to become more of a welcoming community, she said. Currently, the city is looking to upgrade restrooms, encourage planting more flowers, add new benches, and to keep the city clean and friendly.

What is a major improvement the city can make to improve the quality of life for year-around residents?

“The year-around community is very important to Mackinac Island, especially the excellent Mackinac Island public School and the Mackinac Island Medical Center,” she said. “We can never become a caretaker society, so we have to continue to work for lower boat fares, better fall and winter schedules, and eventually lower plane fares.”

CITY CLERK

Two candidates for one office.

Term is for one year.

Karen Lennard

Karen Lennard has been the city clerk for seven years. She attended the University of Cincinnati and Holy Cross College and has been married to her high school sweetheart, Gary, for 42 years. The couple has two children and two grandchildren. She held numerous secretarial positions before opening a travel agency in 1983, which she operated until moving to Mackinac Island in 2000. Mrs. Lennard worked at the Tourism Bureau for three years, answering questions and helping visitors.

What experience do you have that would make you a good city clerk?

“My seven years as city clerk should qualify as enough experience,” she said. In the seven years she has only missed one regular scheduled city council meeting, she pointed out, to attend her mother’s funeral.

What would you bring to the position that would help Mackinac Island?

“I believe in trying to be helpful to everyone,” she said. “No matter who calls, no matter what the question is, if I can’t help them, I know who to send them to or tell them who to call.”

She says she is proficient in Freedom of Information Act requests, the city’s payroll system, monthly taxes, payables, workers compensation, insurance and retirement plans, resolutions, council minutes, and all permits, and said she understands the requirements for conducting a public meeting and the legal guidelines for running an election, including issuing absentee ballots and preparing ballot language.

“I send out hundreds of absentee ballots for each election and daily handle numerous secretarial duties,” she said.

Have you ever run for a political office before?

Mrs. Lennard said she has only run for Mackinac Island clerk in the last seven elections.

Why are you running?

“I feel like I’m helping the Island,” she said. “It’s my civic duty. It’s my way of giving back.”

Linda Price

Clerk candidate Linda Price has lived on Mackinac Island for about 20 years and reared two sons, Joe and Tom Storey. Joe is married and has two children and lives in Lincoln. Tom is pursuing his education to become a physical therapist in Bozeman, Montana.

For many years Ms. Price conducted carriage tours for Gough Taxi and Livery, and she worked for Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau providing information to visitors.

Her family owned Price’s Airport in Linden and operated Price Aviation on the field. Ms. Price worked in the business, running the office and front desk for many years. Her responsibilities included bookkeeping, scheduling aircraft and instructors, flight training sales, aircraft sales, inventory of aircraft parts, management of hangar and tie downs.

With a niece, she runs her own business, Price Aircraft Sales, which brokers and sells aircraft all over the world on the Internet.

What experience do you have that would make you a good city clerk?

“My computer knowledge, office management experience, and understanding of customer service are perfect for the position of city clerk,” she said. “I already know most residents and business owners. I also understand the Island and how it operates.”

She has used QuickBooks software, the same used by the city, and she has filled out state fire incident reports for the Fire Department.

What would you bring to the position that would help the Is- land?

“I would streamline the duties of city clerk by using the Internet and computer technology by making available forms, paperwork, and applications online,” said Ms. Price. “Also, by keeping regular business hours for those that choose to stop by City Hall for their needs.”

Have you ever run for a political office before?

“A group of Island residents urged me to run for the city clerk position,” she said. “Their reasoning was that I would be good at the job and that my computer experience would be a great asset to the city clerk position and the Island. I had to agree that I would be a great fit for the position of city clerk.”

This will be her first campaign for political office.

Why are you running?

“I have the skills to perform this job and take it to a new level of efficiency,” she said. “Keeping up with modern technology is a necessity in today’s world, while still maintaining our small town quality that we all know and love.”

“I want to switch directions and get away from working with horses, and this position I could do a good job at.”

CITY COUNCIL Four candidates for two seats.

Term is for three years.

Charles “Allan” Arbib

Charles “Allan” Arbib, 51, was born at the Mackinac Island Medical Center in 1959. He has a three-year-old daughter, Rachael Kathryn. He attended college for two years and has more than 30 years of business experience on Main Street. He is a homeowner.

What do you want the ferryboat franchise to accomplish?

Mr. Arbib said he would like to see lower fares and more late-season trips, “but I would not support taxing boat lines or a punitive franchise fee.”

What is a major Island issue you would like to address in the next year?

“Where does all the money go?”

What do you see as the benefits and drawbacks of each of the historic districts proposed?

“I would have to see what comes out of committee,” he said. “I would not support any ordinance that did not address property owners’ rights, viability, and include meaningful incentives.”

Do you believe the water and sewer capacity should be expanded to allow more growth on the Island?

“Yes.”

Do you see anything that the city can do to make the visitor experience better?

The visitor experience could be improved with more signs, benches, and restrooms. Mr. Arbib said he would like to see restrooms open for longer hours throughout the year.

What is a major improvement the city can make to improve the quality of life for year-around residents?

The city needs to hire a professional manager, he said.

Ben Horn

Council candidate Ben Horn was born and grew up on Mackinac Island. He is a 1997 graduate of Mackinac Island Public School and that fall he entered the U.S. Army, serving for 6.5 years overseas, including a 13-month tour in Iraq from March 2003 to April 2004. He left the Army March 31, 2005, with the rank of staff sergeant.

He is vice commander of the Chapman, St. Onge, Dankowski American Legion Post 299 and has participated in the headstone cleaning project, veteran funerals, parades, and other projects and events.

After leaving the Army, he has held various positions, including working as a painter and crew foreman for St. Onge Latex & Groove and at Great Turtle Toys. Last summer he started his own business of peddling and vending with a Veteran’s Peddling License, but was prohibited from operating in city and state park areas.

Mr. Horn attended Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, where he was a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and in May 2010, was graduated with an Associate in Applied Science degree in management supervision.

He currently is applying to four-year universities and exploring new business possibilities on Mackinac Island.

What do you want the ferryboat franchise to accomplish?

“The new ferryboat franchise should reflect the interest of the public as well as the business community,” he said. “The efficiency, facilities, and know-how of every ferryboat company are essential to the overall experience of our guests and residents. I also believe that the option of an exclusive franchise should be eliminated indefinitely.”

What is a major Mackinac Island issue you would like to address in the next year?

Keeping the city clean and protecting the environment require more attention, said Mr. Horn. The cleanliness of streets, harbor, and shoreline is a concern, he said.

“Island roads and streets are in need of more thorough cleaning outside of the downtown and Cadotte Avenue areas,” he said. “Residential, commercial, and city drainage needs to be evaluated and corrected to ensure that waste (i.e. cigarette butts, plastic) does not continue to pollute public areas and Haldimand Bay.”

What do you see as the benefits and drawbacks of each of the historic districts proposed? Do you support them?

The Island needs historic districts, he said, however, the cost to purchase and remodel historical buildings and noncontributing structures is a disadvantage.

“Historical districts will be essential in preserving the various forms of architecture and culture of Mackinac Island,” said Mr. Horn. “I support the proposed historical districts but am concerned that remodeling or reconstructing contributing and non-contributing structures could be a lengthy and expensive process for business owners, residents, and the City of Mackinac Island. This process could deter outside investors with good intentions for the people and culture of Mackinac Island.”

Do you believe the water and sewer capacity should be expanded to allow more growth on the Island?

“Water conservation and maintenance of our current facilities should be our primary concern,” he said. “By rewarding businesses and residents who implement conservation methods (i.e. low gallons per minute shower heads, faucets, efficient appliances and systems), we may be able to increase the capacity of our current sewage and water plants while researching the most economical way to expand them.”

Do you see anything that the city can do to make the visitor experience better?

“I had the opportunity to speak with several hundred visitors a day for the short time I peddled water at cutouts [rest areas without a bench] along M-185 last summer,” said Mr. Horn. “Guided tours on foot or bicycle are definitely needed for our guests. Tours will safely move visitors out of town to an attraction or historic site, and also inform them of the remaining distance to public restrooms, food, and drink. This will have an immediate impact on the cleanliness and safety of our Island roads and trails, enriching the experience for all of our guests.”

What is a major improvement the city can make to improve the quality of life for year-around residents?

Broadcasting city events, including council meetings, school sporting events, the Lilac Parade, and Memorial Day services on the public information television channel would be a benefit to the community, said Mr. Horn.

“Airing these events live or at a later date could spark community interest in politics or social gatherings,” he said. “This would be especially beneficial for our elderly and disabled who may not be able to attend every event.”

Anneke Myers

City Council candidate Anneke Myers is a 1991 Calvin College graduate, where she majored in communications arts and sciences. She was the captain of the Calvin volleyball team. She previously coached volleyball at the Mackinac Island Public School and she continues to referee games in the Upper Peninsula. She is the treasurer of Trinity Church and a member of Mackinac Island Recreational Development. She is a founding member of the ski club and the Mackinac Island Conservancy.

As the youngest daughter of David and Grace Armour, Mrs. Myers spent summers on Mackinac Island when her father was an administrator for Mackinac State Historic Parks.

She and her husband, Matthew, were married 17 years ago at Fort Holmes. The couple moved to Mackinac Island in 1998 and into their British Landing home in 2003.

They own a construction company, Mackinac Woodworks, Inc., which Mr. Myers operates, and Mrs. Myers is president of Mackinac Island Labor Service, an employment service company. She also does accounting for several businesses, including Mackinac Island Yacht Club and Wawashkamo Golf Club.

What do you want the ferryboat franchise to accomplish?

In the coming year, she said, the city will be able to determine if the added regulation, increased fees, and expanded service requirements in the revised ferryboat ordinance help or hinder the operation of the ferry companies.

“The City of Mackinac Island needs to be willing to look at results of this new ordinance and amend it if necessary to ensure the health of the three boat lines serving the Island,” said Mrs. Myers.

What is a major Mackinac Island issue you would like to address in the next year?

“Several major issues will face the city in the coming year,” said Mrs. Myers, “including pending lawsuits, two possible historic districts, and a study of the newly updated Master Plan to identify and implement its objectives and goals.”

What do you see as the benefits and drawbacks of each of the historic districts proposed? Do you plan to support them?

“Historic districts are important to support the future authenticity of the Island to our tourists,” she said. “It is often said of Mackinac Island that we are not a theme park, we are a living, breathing community. Our community has the responsibility to balance history and workability.

“I support the Historic Districts in theory, however, there needs to be much more discussion with the property owners in these proposed districts as to how it can be applied practically.”

Do you believe the water and sewer capacity should be expanded to allow more growth on the Island?

“As the DPW updates their facilities, I think it would be prudent to expand the capacity,” she said. “Growth can be managed in many ways. Restricting the capacity of our plants may end up costing more money in the future.”

Do you see anything that the city can do to make the visitor experience better?

“I think we need more recycling opportunities for our visitors,” said Mrs. Myers. “Additionally, the current trash cans need to be replaced with something other than plastic, there should be more receptacles placed around, especially by the playground at the school, cans should be emptied more frequently when they are full so that they do not overflow.”

What is a major improvement the city can make to improve the quality of life for year-around residents?

“Other than providing more snow and an ice bridge every winter, I think the city needs to continue to look at ways to encourage individuals and families to live and remain on the Island,” said Mrs. Myers. “Affordable housing is key to maintaining our year-around population.”

Armin Porter

Armin Porter has served six years on city council. He is a 1969 graduate of Grosse Pointe High School and attended Northern Michigan University. He has lived on Mackinac Island for 35 years. Mr. Porter has been married to Nancy Nephew for 26 years and the couple has two daughters, Sarah, 24, and Annie, 20. Mr. Porter manages the Mighty Mac Restaurant.

He is a lieutenant on the Mackinac Island Fire Department, where he has served for 27 years. He also served for five years on the Mackinac Island Ambulance Corps. Mr. Porter is a member of several city committees including public safety, ordinance, finance, and streets and sidewalks. He was a member of the Planning Commission.

What do you want the ferryboat franchise to accomplish?

“First and foremost, the franchise agreement must ensure reliable ice-to-ice service for Island residents. Many year-around residents are on fixed incomes and flying becomes a major financial burden for them.

“Second, I don’t think we need more trips, but I do think we need at least one boat line to offer a late night boat. It is a major convenience for both residents and tourists. It also helps local businesses.”

For fares, Mr. Porter said, he would like the commuter pass program for residents to continue.

“As far as rates for tourists are concerned, I think a healthy competitive environment among all three boat lines is the best way to ensure the most reasonable fares.”

What is a major Mackinac Island issue you would like to address in the next year?

“Since I was elected nearly six years ago, I felt my main job was to do what I could to ensure that the city be run as efficiently as possible. This helps ensure that property taxes can be kept as low as possible.”

Low property taxes benefit visitors, too, he added.

“Higher taxes will result in higher prices for food, gifts, hotel rooms, and detract from their experience on the Island.”

What do you see as the benefits and drawbacks of each of the historic districts proposed?

Mr. Porter said he supports the establishment of the historic districts.

“A big part of the Mackinac Island experience is its rich history and traditions. The biggest drawback with the proposed historical districts would be the restrictions placed on renovations, particularly in the downtown commercial district. I believe that the need for historical preservation is our most important obligation. I also believe that the city can reach reasonable agreements with property owners.”

Do you believe the water and sewer capacity should be expanded to allow more growth on the Island?

“I do not believe the water and sewer capacity should be expanded for the benefit of further development. This would put a financial strain on Island residents and business owners for the benefit of developers. I have opposed this in the past and will continue to oppose it.”

Do you see anything that the city can do to make the visitor experience better?

Offering a clean, friendly, and unique experience will enhance the tourists’ visit to the Island, he said.

“This includes keeping our streets, buildings, and parks as well maintained as possible, making sure that the police department is on duty downtown, not just for traffic control, but to assist visitors with any questions they may have and in general, presenting a friendly face for our city.”

What is a major improvement the city can make to improve the quality of life for year-around residents?

“Year around residents live on Mackinac because they like the lifestyle. I think two of the most important things to ensure are reliable year-around transportation on and off the Island and a wellequipped medical center. Year around transportation should include a boat running ice-to-ice.”

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