Carol Shafto takes her duties of being mayor of Alpena very seriously. It is because of her vision and hopes for Alpena that she became involved with the Michigan Municipal League. By doing so she has succeeded in furthering Alpena's success by building a bond with other municipal leaders.
On Sept. 22, Shafto was selected the 2010-11 MML president. With the new responsibility, Shafto will represent more than 500 towns and villages in Michigan. She said she is very humbled to be appointed the organization's leader.
"This is sort of the pinnacle of working with the Michigan Municipal League. I have been with them for nine years and it is a tremendous honor," Shafto said. "It really is an overwhelming honor and opportunity for Alpena."
The mayor said most times the president position is held by people from larger , more visible cities. She said she hopes her new role will promote Alpena and attract interest in it. She said whenever she is introduced at a meeting or conference, she will be attributed to Alpena and expects the town to get exposure because of it.
"I will always be referred to as the mayor of Alpena first and foremost and I think that will shine very bright for us," Shafto said. "There haven't been very many presidents from up north, or from rural areas, so when I sit down at the table with representatives from Grand Rapids or Traverse City maybe someone has never heard of it before and inquire about it."
Shafto said her schedule will become more complicated, but the new duties won't have much of an effect on her obligation or commitment to the city. She said there may be an occasional meeting that may be missed due to a scheduling conflict, but she will communicate the best she can with the rest of the council members when absent.
"I have a full-time job and I use my vacation time to do this," Shafto said. "I pay to do this myself. I can't short-change my employer and I can't short-change the city. I didn't do this for me. I did this for the MML and the City of Alpena. I use my personal time to do as much of it as possible."
Her presidency will be limited to a one-year term, but because she served as the organization's leader she will be awarded a special perk that could benefit Alpena greatly down the road. Shafto said she will always have a position on the board for as long as she chooses to.
"All the past presidents are lifetime members of the board, so I will always be a part of it for the rest of my life, whether I'm mayor of Alpena or not," Shafto said. "I will always be able to speak on behalf of Alpena for as long as I choose to remain on the board. I think that is very important."
Shafto said one of her main goals is to improve the relationship between rural and urban areas. She said there is a void in communication between the two.
"I think I can represent well and help rural and urban communities come together," Shafto said. "There is a disconnect between the two and I think we need to do a better job of bringing the two closer and working together."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5689.