By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON – Four candidates are seeking three available seats on the Trenton city council, with incumbents Bill LeFevere and Nelson Perugi and challengers Wendy Pate and Dora Rodriguez on the ballot.
The McLouth clean-up, city services and the DTE closure were among the issues at the forefront with the candidates.
LeFevre did not respond to questions sent to him. Pate, Perugi and Rodriguez’s comment follow.
Perugi cited his record as reasons why residents should re-elect him.
“During my term we had no layoffs in public safety and maintained balanced budgets,” he said. “I approached issues by listening. In decision making, I use a concise and pragmatic approach.”
He said many challenges still exist for the city, and that he is not afraid to make tough decisions.
“I have lived in the city of Trenton for 30 years,” Perugi said. “I care about the city and the residents we serve, from the youth to the seniors.”
He the three most important issues facing the city are the McLouth Steel property, Riverside Hospital and DTE.
“The cleanup at McLouth Steel property has gone as planned,” Perugi said. “They have done an excellent job on keeping the site as well as the adjacent residents safe. Until Crown Industries submits a plan to the Planning Commission, the council and city will not know what the future use will be.”
He said the Riverside Hospital issue is now in the court system.
“It has been handed over to a receiver to go over the existing issues,” Perugi said. “More will come as the process moves forward. The good news is we are still moving forward, which hasn’t been the case during the current ownership of the property.”
He said the mayor and city council need to stay focused on the re-purposing of the DTE site.
“We need to maintain as much tax base as possible as we can maintain city services,” Perugi said.
As a lifelong resident of Downriver, with 19 years in Trenton, Pate said she and her husband Carl, and their children, Daphne and Carl, volunteer with the TBA, TEF, coaching, Boy Scouts, student council and band activities.
“I’m a retired high school teacher and MEA union rep and delegate,” she said. “I enjoy crafting, shopping and walking.”
She is currently a City Beautiful Commissioner, Trail Town Advisory committee member, and co-founder of Trenton Visionaries and Stakeholders.
“We have so much potential to unlock in Trenton,” Pate said. “Due to the fact that we already have a good reputation, are a safe city, and have solid frameworks in place, there is nothing holding us back except ourselves.”
She said Trenton residents have spoken and identified their vision for a thriving waterfront and downtown.
“I have already begun to work for Trenton, and I’m ready to provide a voice for this vision as a councilperson,” she said. “People want to stay here, and they want their children to live here, but they also see other cities growing, while ours is stagnant.
“I want to give residents a reason to stay and invite their friends to visit. Let’s make Trenton an unforgettable, thriving destination location.”
Pate said the three main areas of sustainability that Trenton needs to address are purposeful waterfront development, investing in new projects and services, and turning the city into a destination within the region.
“The most important thing we can do is to listen to the experts and the citizens who have given us a vision by fulfilling the Trenton Coast Resiliency Master Plan goals, that remove industry from the waterfront, in exchange for modern, cleaner business models that also provide for community benefit and access,” she said. “We should explore grant opportunities and or investors to provide for gaps in services that support our senior’s wellness as well as place-making activities that attract new families.”
She said embracing the Trail Town initiative will transform our downtown by adopting a complete street ordinance to allow for safer mobility, a building facade improvement plan to update the appearance, provide amenities for tourists who visit, and ultimately attract new businesses.
“In order to accomplish any progress, the mayor and council need to be proactive and prepare for the future, by taking a leap forward and working with DTE and MSC to create business models for redevelopment,” Pate said. “We need to maintain good relationships with cities along the West Jefferson corridor and work on common goals, seek examples of best practices from other cities, such as Ann Arbor and Detroit, who have successfully rehabilitated industrial sites into thriving mixed use and recreational developments, and listen to and trust our own residents as experts in how to make the city grow.”
Rodriguez, who is a mother, grandmother and a UAW auto worker, said she is running for office for the first time to represent the city I loves.
“Trenton is growing and changing, and I believe it’s time for some new voices on our city council,” she said. “I’m running to hold a seat at the table for working families across Trenton, and I’m committed to finding creative solutions through collaboration on all levels and increasing transparency across our city government.”
She said one of her top priorities as a city council member would be holding Crown Enterprises accountable for the responsible and thorough cleanup of the McLouth site.
“It must not only meet EPA and EGLE standards, but allow for a brighter and healthier future for our community, she said.
Rodiguez said she is also is focused on city employees.
“Another of my top priorities is making sure Trenton city employees have fair and equitable contracts,” Rodriguez said. “I will do everything in my power as a city council member to make sure we protect jobs, pensions, and union contracts for our city workers, police, and firefighters.”
She said she is also committed to working to expand access to city services.
“This means applying for grant funding for future sustainable projects, protecting and expanding senior health programs, and exploring new and innovative options like a low-fee tool exchange program,” Rodirguez said.