Five candidates are running for two seats open on the Belleville City Council. Election day is Nov. 7 and the absentee ballots should be out any minute.
Candidates are Kelly Bates, Tom Fielder, Gwen Hooks, Jesse Marcotte, and Jeff Vernon.
Kelly Bates, 342 Victorian Lane, is married to Thomas Bates and they have lived in the City of Belleville for three years.
She is employed as occupation supervisor at the University of Michigan Health Center. She has taken some college classes.
She applied for Kim Tindall’s council seat that was open after Tindall resigned to take employment with the city, but on Nov. 15 the council chose Jesse Marcotte for that appointment.
On Nov. 21 she was appointed to the city planning commission to fill Marcotte’s former seat.
“I am actively involved at U of M as a Wellness Champion. I encourage my location site to be and stay active. I also serve as our team captain for Active U. I also serve as the United Way Ambassador as well as a Planet Blue Ambassador at University of Michigan promoting green initiatives.
“I have always been active in my community and church as well. I enjoy volunteering at local events and helping out wherever I am needed.
“My husband Tom and I love to travel. We usually pick somewhere warm and tropical, but Florida is one of our favorite places we visit annually. We also enjoy being active by walking, biking or now kayaking.
“I am also a big animal lover and have been known to help rescue animals over the past 17 years or so. When I’m not rescuing them I do enjoy watching them while on hikes or when looking for birds or deer to observe. We also enjoy spending time with our friends sharing a meal and laughs.”
Bates said she is running for office “to continue to build upon the groundwork that has been laid by previous residents and boards while fostering closer relationships with Belleville’s residents while improving and providing new resources and benefits to our residents. At the end of each day we are all neighbors.”
Once elected her goals include: “To talk to people, a lot of people, even more than I currently talk to. It isn’t convenient for everyone to attend city council meetings and we don’t have it aired on local cable. Exploring how we can change this. I would also like city council to create a follow-up list with departments within the city so that residents will be informed. We have limited resources and staff, we can look at what has always been done and asked and explore the ‘why’s’ to see why and where we can improve upon current processes.”
Bates said she’d also like to “incorporate more ways to be encouraged through health initiatives for our residents. One of my passions is sustainable living and being conscious of how everything we do and use impacts us. I would like to bring more awareness and education of this, including our recycling program and through community gardens.”
Tom Fielder, 206 South Street, has lived in Belleville for all of his 72 years. He is single and a Belleville High School retired teacher.
Fielder earned a bachelor of arts degree at the University of Michigan.
He was elected Belleville’s mayor in 1999 and to the Belleville City Council in 2013. He also was appointed to the Belleville Downtown Development Authority and served 2009-2013. He also was appointed to the Parks and Recreation Commission and has served on that commission since 1994.
Fielder also belongs to the Belleville Area Historical Society, Belleville Central Business Community, Wayne County Substance Use Disorder Board, board member of Growthworks (Youth and Family Services for Western Wayne County), Tip-of-the-Mitt Watershed Council, Little Traverse Conservancy, and Mullett Lake Area Preservation Society.
Fielder also serves as a baseball-softball official and enjoys golf and boating.
When asked why he is running for reelection to office, Fielder said: “On the seal of the City of Belleville is the phrase ‘Quality Living.’ As a lifelong resident of the city and an elected official it is important to make decisions with that goal in mind. Providing basic services like utilities, police, fire, good streets as well as parks, entertainment and other activities has always resulted in making choices, especially with the taxpayer in mind. In the past 25 years, I feel I have gained the knowledge to make public policy decisions, as well as the trust of the community. I would like to continue to make those decisions as a member of the Belleville City Council.”
When asked if he had any goals once elected, he replied: “Funding for local government has decreased from most traditional sources since 2009. Cooperation between local governments (Belleville, Sumpter Township and Van Buren Township) is essential to continue to provide ‘quality’ services. Specific grants, for example recreation and infrastructure repairs, should also be pursued. I would like to continue to be involved in that process.”
Gwen Hooks, 207 Victorian Lane, has lived in the city for five years with her husband Mark Hooks and daughter Jocelyn Hooks.
Hooks, 36, is a Health Research Science Specialist, with a master of arts of in Counseling Psychology and a bachelor of arts in Psychology.
This is her first bid for public office.
She said she enjoys being outdoors, whether it is biking, hiking, or nature walks. She is a passionate reader and also loves to write.
“Ultimately, spending time with my family brings me the most joy,” Hooks said.
When asked why she is running for office, Hooks replied: “Belleville is a great city and I want to make it even better. I believe we have an incredible amount of untapped potential in this city. I believe in an inclusionary democracy, where everyone has a voice. We must be able to grow as a community while preserving our rich history.
“Ultimately, someone will fill the vacant council seats and make decisions that will affect me, my family, and the entire community. Those who do should be deeply committed to serving, and doing so both creatively and reflectively. I want to see increased innovation, greater efficiency, greater choices, and better overall quality of living. These are the virtues of competition, and that is my why.”
When asked if she had any goals once elected, Hooks replied: “As a veteran, service will always have a special place in my heart. It is the greatest gift you can give. I want to bring this same spirit of service to city government.
“One of my foremost goals is to help foster a culture of community engagement within the council, with an increased focus on outreach. I want to create opportunities for residents to communicate, and interact with their local government. When we can move towards a common goal, with the city government and the community working cohesively, we can have a thriving community.”
Jesse Marcotte, 53 Potter Drive, was appointed to a seat on the city council last November and is running to retain his seat. This is his first time on a ballot.
He was appointed to and served on the planning commission 2007-2014 and 2015-2016, about eight years total.
Marcotte, 34, has lived in the city for 12 years. He resides with his girlfriend Melly and their two dogs, Blaze and Griz.
He has worked for the Northville Township Fire Department for 15 years and is Battalion Chief of Training.
Marcotte graduated from Belleville High School in 2001 and earned a BAS in Public Safety Studies from Siena Heights University in 2006 and a master of science in Public Safety and Emergency Management from Eastern Michigan University in 2010.
Over the years, he served with various local groups within the Belleville community, including coaching with the Belleville Area Little League and serving as a coach and assistant to the athletic director at St. Anthony’s Parish. He currently serves as a member of the Northville Township Firefighters Charity Fund which is a 501(c)(3) organization.
His hobbies include spending time on Belleville Lake, classic cars, home improvement and spending quality time with friends and family. One of his favorite things to do is to attend fundraisers for local causes including the Belleville Area Museum, Music Lakeside, Special Olympics and other organizations. He also serves as a member of Michigan Fire Service Instructor’s Association and the Detroit Fire Department Band.
When asked why he was running for office, Marcotte replied: “I was blessed with the opportunity to grow up in the Belleville/Van Buren community and I am beyond thankful to have been raised in such a great place. As a member of the city council, I would be able to continue giving back to the community that has given me so much.
“My intention is to afford others the same opportunity to live in such a great place. I would like to preserve our traditions and build upon them as they give roots to our community.
“My career has continuously reinforced the value of working within a team to accomplish what is best for the people that we serve. My promise to the citizens of Belleville is that I am someone who will always serve with the utmost integrity and that I am more than willing to actively listen to every member of our community. I have recently introduced improvements to the way that we manage projects within the City of Belleville to ensure accountability, communication and follow-through.”
When asked about his goals once elected, Marcotte said: “My mission is to use my experience in public service, formal education, and homegrown roots to improve our community. My goals are to enhance our public safety, improve our infrastructure (especially our roads), and continuously improve the condition of our local parks to provide the children in our community with a safe place to play.
“I also have the goal of improving our downtown and other areas without abandoning our small-town, family feel. I plan on working with our residents, businesses, non-profits and neighboring communities to achieve all of these plans. My objective is to work within our budget to make these things happen. I will continue to seek out creative ways to save money and fund projects such as public and private grants and crowd-sourced fundraising opportunities.”
Jeff Vernon, 48, of 111 South Street, is on a ballot for public office for the first time. He applied for an open position on the council last November, but was not selected by the council. He was later appointed to the Parks and Recreation Commission.
He has lived in the city for two years and lists his occupation as “general labor.” He lists his education as “high school.”
When asked why he is running for office, Vernon replied: “I have chosen to attempt to gain a seat on the council to give people a voice. Sometimes I feel our collective voices stop after being voiced one time. Sometimes we need a squeaky wheel.”
He said once elected, “I would like the Parks and Recreation to once again be active, and the partnerships between businesses and the city to become stronger in order to become more attractive to other small and medium businesses.”