2018-04-07 / News

All Candidates Running Unopposed in City Elections May 8

Mackinac Island City Treasurer Richard “Rick” Linn in his office at City Hall Monday, April 2. Mackinac Island City Treasurer Richard “Rick” Linn in his office at City Hall Monday, April 2. City elections are Tuesday, May 8, with polling on the first floor of Community Hall from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. All candidates are running unopposed for their positions, including Mayor Margaret Doud, City Councilors Dennis Bradley and Brian Bailey (see related story in this issue), Clerk Danielle Wightman, Treasurer Rick Linn, assessor Robert Benser, and supervisor Brad Chambers.

The Mackinac Island Town Crier asked candidates to discuss their role in the community, the topics they believe are of most importance to their constituents, and what they love about living on Mackinac Island. Candidates Benser and Chambers did not respond. The assessor and supervisor serve on the city’s taxation Board of Review with the mayor.


The mayor is an annually elected position. The mayor receives $3,000 per year, in addition to $50 for every official meeting of the City Council attended. The mayor is also provided health insurance through the city and receives $40 for every Board of Review session attended.

Margaret Doud

Margaret Doud is seeking her 44th consecutive term as mayor. The role comes with many responsibilities, but she said above all it is about being a leader who represents all of the people of Mackinac Island. This includes the year-around population, business owners, and summer cottagers. The role of the year-around community, in particular, is integral, according to Mayor Doud.

“It is important to maintaining a viable community,” she said.

Supporting the many groups on the Island requires a constant balancing of priorities. For instance, she identified historic preservation as one of the most important topics to the community, but also spoke about maintaining a good business community. To balance preservation with the demand for more accommodations, restaurants, and retail shops requires Mayor Doud to juggle many contrasting viewpoints at once.

“You have to see what is good for everybody,” she said. “It is a balancing act, but you have to maintain that in order to keep the balance in the right direction.”

She explained that this is more than giving each group or issue equal attention, it requires taking a complete view of the community to determine where the mayor’s energy is best spent.

The mayor identified transportation as one of the issues that requires extra effort to ensure it works properly for everyone. Mackinac Island’s off-island transportation is handled by private businesses in cooperation with the city. The management of air travel and ferry service to and from Mackinac Island is something that affects everyone, whether they are staying for a night or have been a member of the community their entire life.

Supporting the vitality of Mackinac Island Public School, she said, is of utmost importance. One method for doing so is to encourage affordable year-around housing to allow families to move to and grow on Mackinac Island. There are many other ways the city can sustain the school, she said, including support for new millage proposals.

Mayor Doud has lived her entire life on Mackinac Island, and she says it is a wonderful place. She said that it is important to continuously recognize this, and not be distracted by daily life.

City Councilors

City councilors serve three-year terms and receive $50 per City Council meeting they attend. Council members are not paid to attend committee meetings.

Dennis Bradley

Dennis Bradley is seeking his second full term in office, after being originally appointed to the City Council in October 2014. He served as fire chief before retiring from the fire department in 2011, and retired last year from the Mackinac Island State Park, where he served as assistant airport manager.

Mr. Bradley approaches his role on the city council by being patient and listening to every opinion before making a decision. He said he must listen to everyone if he expects to make the correct choice. Many of these are related to preservation, and he said the council must ensure that Mackinac Island remains competitive in a modern business world, as well. This requires adoption of new technology. He offered the example that a visitor might be taken by horse-drawn carriage to their lodging, but the logistics these days are organized with a radio and a computer.

Mackinac Island must remain competitive with other tourist locations, and it has an advantage, he says, because it is an authentic year-around community. He said turning Mackinac Island into an amusement park would not attract more people because most visitors are interested in the authenticity of the place. The continued use of horses and drays in the winter is something that must be maintained for authenticity’s sake.

He also believes that the role of each city council member might be different depending on their expertise. Mr. Bradley is well suited to oversee police, fire, and emergency medical services, he said, and he works alongside these city departments through the Public Safety Committee.

Adequate housing, he said, is extremely important to maintaining the authenticity of the Island. Continuous development of summer housing for employees and vacationers has reduced the available housing for the year-around workforce.

“We must always protect who we are and what we have, but we have to still provide the service and experiences of Mackinac Island,” he said.

He added that preservation is important, and that it is a balancing act between maintaining the year-around community and allowing businesses to thrive.

Reflecting on the positive aspects of the community, something that he believes is especially impressive is the number of wintertime activities available to the public. He said there is a never-ending calendar of events from youth skating and archery to adult painting and dance classes. He also singled out the robotics team from Mackinac Island Public School for their achievements.

“To come from a horse and buggy town to compete on a national level is amazing,” he said, “It takes a community to do this.”

Brian Bailey

Mr. Bailey is the only non-incumbent seeking a seat in the election, and a separate profile on him is published in this issue.

City Clerk

The city clerk is an annually elected office. The clerk receives a salary of $39,365 a year and $60 for every council meeting attended. The clerk also receives $60 for each Saturday worked in relation to absentee ballots, and $75 each election day.

Danielle Wightman

Danielle Wightman is seeking reelection as city clerk for the third time. Her responsibilities include handling business licenses, voter registration, permits for motor vehicles, trailers, and events, and she supervises elections.

The clerk must be prepared to deal with a multitude of issues and tasks. Ms. Wightman said she enjoys this facet of the work.

“I think that’s what makes the job interesting, there’s always something different to do,” she said.

Two main issues that Ms. Wightman believes are of particular importance to the community are temporary motor vehicle permit applications and traffic congestion downtown. She said it is difficult to organize motor vehicle permitting because there are always contractors that are not aware of the Island’s strict enforcement of the motor vehicle ban. She said the city has been working to improve this process to ensure that permits are not approved without good reason, and that necessary permits can be granted efficiently. Many construction crews have been working on Mackinac Island for years and do have a thorough understanding of the parameters.

Ms. Wightman commonly receives calls asking for a permit to operate drone aircraft. She said most of the callers do not understand the risks associated with drone use on Mackinac Island, such as a malfunction leading to the aircraft crashing in a crowded area, or spooking a horse, causing an accident. The city does not permit drones, but due to state law is prohibited from outlawing them entirely.

“It’s something we are working on that I hope can be resolved much sooner rather than later,” she said.

Mackinac Island, she said, is “the one place I can always feel safe, secure, and happy. There’s no other place like it.”


The city treasurer is an annually elected position. The treasurer receives a salary of $39,365 a year.

Richard “Rick” Linn

The role of treasurer is to ensure that taxpayer money is being distributed and collected according to the wishes of the community’s legislative body, the City Council. Mr. Linn must keep track of all funds coming in and out of the city to make sure the council’s directives are executed. He said the job is unique for every community. The treasurer’s job is different from what it would be in a town with a similar year-around population. The influx of hundreds of thousands of tourists every summer dramatically increases both the expenses and revenues received by the city.

He believes the city spends responsibly, and that nothing is allocated without regard for the balance of the city’s accounts. City funds, he said, are there to support what the community wants.

Part of the appeal of Mackinac Island, to Mr. Linn, is that it is a real, living community. He said that supporting Mackinac Island Public School and the year-around community as a whole is essential to its survival. He loves Mackinac Island primarily because of the sense of community and its close-knit nature and wants to support this through his role with the city.

During the winter especially, he said that the relationships among the community are much stronger because the group does not change as frequently as it would on the mainland. People are in close touch with their neighbors, Mr. Linn said, and he believes this is a positive sign for the longevity of the community.

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