ROGERS CITY - Four candidates are running for Rogers City mayor now that Beach Hall has opted against running for re-election, and three are currently serving on city council.
Mayor Pro Tem Deb Greene, council members Dana LaBar and Tom Sobeck and lifelong resident Jerry Wagner are running to head the city's governing body. They all come from varied backgrounds and have different ideas for what they'd like to accomplish as mayor.
Wagner, 52, is active in the community through the Knights of Columbus, the Servicemen's Club, Little League and other sports, he said. A Rogers City High alumni, he's been working in the city for 33 years. He's married, and his children have grown up and left home.
Wagner decided to run for mayor after discussing a need for change in the city with several people, he said.
"The more I thought about it, you know, I think we can do this," he said. "I think it's time for some new blood in the office."
As mayor, Wagner said he would focus on necessity before accessory. He doesn't want to make big promises, but he does vow to do the best he can if he gets the chance. He'll also strive to work with city council as a team. While he's never held public office, he has served as president of the Servicemen's Club board, and as a member of the Rogers City Antique & Vintage Snowmobile Show Association.
Sobeck said he has served on city council for six years, and decided he could offer a little more after Hall announced he wouldn't run for another term as mayor. He's Presque Isle Gas & Electric Co-operative's chief financial officer, and can bring his business experience to the job. He's 52, and the father of two sons. One is a senior in high school, and the other serves in the military.
"I have no lofty goals, I simply want to continue the city on the path it's been for the last few years," he said. "I think we've made some positive progress with our streets, our downtown and our water and sewer system. I hope to continue that positive momentum."
Sobeck thinks of himself as a logical and rational person, a good decision-maker and one with the best interest of the city at heart, he said.
"I'm not actively campaigning, I simply want people to have the option," he said. "I'm hoping I can provide that for them."
LaBar, 56, was appointed to city council in 2010, he said, and was reelected a year later. He and his wife, Michelle, have been Rogers City residents for 21 years. A job opportunity brought him to Northeast Michigan, and the city's clean, quiet environment and good schools drew him to the town. He wanted a good place to raise his two children.
If elected, LaBar wants to continue promoting the deep-water port at Calcite and encourage other partnerships like that between Carmeuse Lime and Stone and Moran Iron Works.
"We have what might be the best deep-water port on Lake Huron and a $4 million crane there," he said. "We need to better utilize that in bringing prosperity to Rogers City."
LaBar said he's running for mayor out of a belief in civic duty. It's a way to pay it forward to all those who did so before him, including Hall. LaBar spoke highly of his leadership skills, and said he'll strive to come close to Hall's skills if elected.
Ultimately, LaBar said he hopes to keep the city as good a place to raise a family as it was for him and his wife. This will help it grow its population, which it must do if it hopes to remain fiscally stable.
Of the four candidates, Greene has the most experience on city council, she said. She's served 22 non-consecutive years, 12 of which she's served as mayor pro tem. A city resident for 39 years, she's a registered nurse, is married and has three sons. She's been involved in the community in numerous ways, including as Girl Scout leader and Kiwanis Club president.
Greene is concerned about the increase in taxes and other charges on residents, and has ideas on how the city and other local governments could pool resources to avoid duplication.
"I do believe the same theory that some of the other politicians do: It's not increasing the taxes, it's increasing the people," she said. "If we bring more people to town, that will offset the increases that we have to give the other people."
Greene, 58, said she wants to work with city council, and to reach out to voters. They need to know their opinions matter, and many are worried about what's going on but never ask their elected officials. In turn, she also wants voters to reach out to city council and their mayor.
With her experience and openness to new ideas, Greene believes she's the best choice for mayor, she said. While she has her opinions, she's still willing to change her mind if new information comes to light.
"I just think it is important to play a proactive role in the city, to do your homework and find out what's going on before decisions are made," she said.