It's time for me to weigh in on the upcoming election and the candidates for Kingsford's City Council. I am Mick Flaminio and I've been a Kingsford City Council member for the past 10 years, and prior to that I was an officer with the Kingsford Public Safety Department for over 26 years.
In this upcoming election in Kingsford on Nov. 5 there are two City Council seats available. One of our present council members is running for re-election and three new candidates are running for a seat on the council. One of the new candidates, Mark Wiederrecht, announced his was running for Kingsford City Council in a newspaper article published on Sept. 30.
In his article, Mark started off with some positive information about himself, but before he was even half way through, all he did was degrade and belittle the current Kingsford City Council members and anyone and everyone that works in the public sector of government. In my opinion, Mark in wittingly started his political career off on the wrong foot, by picking a fight with the very council he wishes to serve on. So, I ask you, what kind of legitimate candidate would do that?
Now, even though I've never been a proponent of negative campaigning, I have a right to defend any and all accusations leveled at me, at our City Council, or anyone else who has dedicated their careers, livelihood, and even their lives to serving our local citizens in the capacity of a police officer, a firefighter, a public safety officer, a public works employee, a soldier, or a civil servant.
So, please let me begin my article by pointing out some of the negatives in Mark's article. Mark accuses "many of our elected officials" of having "no practical experience" and we "have never learned how to manage personnel, use of money, and balance a budget."
He referred to our local politicians by stating, "they have never once held a job that requires the use of fiscal responsibility".
Really? I guess he failed to take the time to take a look at our council members resumes. I've held a steady job since I was 15, and my first 9 years were in the private sector. I even worked for a while at Grede Foundry and Dickinson Homes all before I became a Kingsford Public Safety Officer. I graduated from NMU with a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice and Business Administration. And, for the past 10 years I've been your Dickinson County D.A.R.E. Officer. As your local DARE Officer, each year I have to prepare an estimated budget, then I have to help raise the money to provide for the DARE Program, and then I have to stick to my budget. But apparently in Mark's mind, neither myself or "many" of our other council members have ever had any "practical experience."
And, what was all that fuss in his article about Kingsford having seven squad cars? Right now, they do. But, the truth is, of those seven squad cars, the oldest is a surveillance vehicle which was completely paid for with drug forfeiture money.
Next, is a 2006 SUV patrol vehicle used primarily for inclement weather. It's the first and only 4-wheel-drive patrol vehicle the department has ever had. It cost $35,000 in 2006 for which a $13,000 grant was received. The next two patrol cars are a 2008 and a 2009. They have an average of over 172,000 miles on them. Their useful patrol life is over and I'm confident that they'll be auctioned off or passed down to City Hall in the future.
Then there are the three main squad cars, including the brand new one, (which Mark Wiederrecht and Brian Smeester both opposed the purchase of).
The total cost for the remaining five squad cars was $109,636 and the city received $34,000 in grants for those five squad cars. Now, that's a clear example of good financial responsibility. Seven squad cars in seven years, for less than $98,000 and $47,000 additional in grant money, but Wiederrecht conveniently forgot to mention any of that.
So, the truth is that there's no issue whatsoever with our City Council's financial responsibility, as Mark Wiederrecht's leads you to believe in his article.
Mark Wiederrecht may very well be a good business man, but it's already clear to me from his article and his attitude, that Wiederrecht has no business in government.
The citizens of Kingsford deserve a council that can act in their best interest without pointing a finger at each other. There's too much of that in government already. Therefore, I urge you not to vote for Mark Wiederrecht on Nov. 5.
Instead, I strongly urge you to cast your votes for Joe Groeneveld and Dennis Baldinelli. Joe Groeneveld dedicated 30 years of his life to serving and protecting the people of Kingsford, including our children as the school liaison officer. Joe is a candidate with a proven track record of honesty and integrity, and his work ethics are beyond approach. And, Dennis Baldinelli has been on your city council for the better half of the last 20 years. And, in all that time, I've never seen him do anything but stick up for our citizens and our employees. Please remember them when you vote.
Michael "Mick" Flaminio