Saugatuck & Douglas City Council Races In Upcoming Election
Aside from the pivotal and historical referendum question of whether their two cities should consolidate into one city or not consolidate and remain independent, voters from the cities of Saugatuck and Douglas will also be asked to elect candidates for their respective city councils in next week’s November 5 election.
Saugatuck Township does not have an election on November 5, nor will its electorate be asked to participate in the referendum because the issue of consolidation only pertains to the cities, not the township.
The only contested race is in the City of Saugatuck where newcomer Wendy Fisher is challenging incumbents Bill Hess, who currently serving as mayor; Jeff Spangler; and Henry Van Singel for three open seats for two-year terms.
Meanwhile, in the City of Douglas, there are three candidates running unopposed for three open seats in council, including incumbents Martha Hoexter, currently serving as mayor pro-tem; Greg Harvath; and Gerald Schmidt.
Each Douglas seat is also for two years.
The Douglas City Council appointed Schmidt on June 3 to complete the term of Diane Bailey, who has moved out of town.
Fisher, a business owner in downtown Saugatuck, stands in stark contrast to her fellow candidates.
She is the newcomer; her challengers, Hess, Spangler, and Van Singel, have had long experience in local public service.
Fisher reportedly is undecided on the issue of consolidation and is calling for term limits on city council members and says the city manager ought to live within the city boundaries.
Her rivals, on the other hand, don’t agree with her about term limits or that the city manger should live in the city.
Also, her challengers have publicly stated they do not support consolidation.
In fact, Hess is a leading voice in the anti-merger group Citizens for Independent and Cooperative Communities which has often butted heads with the opposition, the pro-consolidation group Consolidated Government Committee.
Fisher has continuously told city officials they need to pay closer attention to the needs of the local business community and has long advocated for bathrooms on the south side of downtown (e.g., Butler Street) for the benefit of tourist and visitors.