By Rosemary K. Otzman
Two four-year terms on the Belleville City Council will be filled by voters in the Nov. 5 General Election.
There are three candidates: a newcomer to political office, Robert Balderston; former Belleville Mayor Tom Fielder; and incumbent Councilwoman Kim Tindall.
The Independent sent out candidate forms to gather information on the candidates and they all cooperated and completed the forms on deadline.
Robert (Bob) Balderston
Robert (Bob) Balderston, 52, of 256 Second Street, is running for his first elective political office.
He and his wife Cristina Balderston, a flight attendant for Delta Airlines, have lived in the City of Belleville for about six years.
He is an artist and has completed some college courses.
Balderston was appointed to the planning commission in 2010, served for three months, and resigned due to health reasons.
“I belong to no clubs or organizations. My choice is to focus my attention to the needs at hand. My hobbies are raising exotic finches, reading and, of course, art.
“I am running for office because I feel we need to restore the mandate of the voting populace. Even in a democracy, we have become more or less a Roman Monarchy. The council and the mayor’s office are puppet-like offices that have taken all responsibility, and put it into the hands of appointed officials, thus removing any real voter say in the running of our city.
“The office of the mayor and council should be full-time positions and the office of the city manager, should also be an elected position, allowing the city voters the choice of persons suited to run the full-time operations, not decisions that the council and mayor have made.
“Voting for properly qualified officials, rather than people who are part of the Belleville dynasties, or political cliches, will return confidence in the voting public.
“Regardless of whom you vote for, it is all a moot point if even for just local elections, that the public can and should vote. Make your voice heard.
Balderston explained his goals:
“My goals of running for this office of City Council is one to lead, not to follow, or just work with others or groups, who have no bearing of the needs of the city.
“Leading means to question and pro-actively act in regards to the city’s now and future needs. Rather than just being a paper tiger for four years, I feel each and every term of any office, we have to get the voting public, to make their voices heard.
“No elected office is worth its decisions, if the public does not get involved. A council meeting should inspire people to come to the meetings and get involved, but not to the extreme like that of the VBT or BADL meetings which are rolling circuses that really achieve nothing.
“I wish that my office and those of the others, can easily be judged to handle the hard decisions, and will set the course for actions and voters to come. The people need to vote, and be part of the responsibility we all share,” he concluded.
Tom Fielder, 67, of 206 South Street, is running for a seat on the City Council, after serving as Belleville’s mayor in the past. His father also served as Mayor of Belleville.
Fielder was born in Belleville and has lived here his whole life. He earned a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and retired as a teacher at Belleville High School.
Fielder currently serves on the city’s Downtown Development Authority and the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee.
He is president of the Belleville Area Historical Society, president of the Belleville National Strawberry Festival, and serves on the board of directors of the Belleville Central Business Community, SEMCA, and GrowthWorks.
“I have lived in the City of Belleville for my entire life,” Fielder said in answering an Independent request for information on his candidacy.
“Growing up and working here had me becoming active in my community. I was coach of multiple sports at Belleville High School, invited to help write the State MEAP test in Social Studies, and after retirement served on the millage committee to build a new Belleville High School.
“My involvement with young people has resulted in my serving as chairman of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee for Western Wayne County and as a Board member of Growth Works, Inc., a youth services provider.
“I would like to continue to bring this background of knowledge to community decisions,” he said.
He said he is running for office because:
“It is no secret that the greatest problem facing local governments today is how to continue to provide quality services with diminished resources. The simple answer is to cut costs by reducing programs and personnel. The negative aspect of this approach is that current residents and new residents chose to live where the quality of life is high. Cuts alone result in a population and property tax loss which may cause a net loss in any financial savings.
“I believe we must explore cooperative services with neighboring communities to keep valuable programs at a financial savings to everyone. These types of programs might be found with not only neighboring governments, but also with educational and perhaps even private agencies. However, these cooperative ventures can’t just occur without government officials balancing cost savings against diminished community services our residents have come to expect.”
In responding to an Independent question on his goals in office, Fielder responded:
“One of the most frustrating things I see in today’s government is the inability of officials to find common ground to solve problems and deliver services to their constituents.
“Local governments in the United States seems to be one of the few places where compromise government is still alive. Certainly, in the City of Belleville the employees, administration, elected and appointed officials have used this as a principle of good government.
“I have taught compromise when discussing the most significant features of our National Constitution. I practiced this principle when I previously served as an elected official. I hope to be able to continue to use this philosophy as a Council representative for the residents of the City of Belleville,” Fielder concluded.
Kim Tindall, 48, of 371 Church Street, who has served on the Belleville City Council for one term, since 2009, is running for re-election.
Her fiancé is Steve Jones, chairman of the Belleville Planning Commission and president of the Belleville Area council for the Arts.
Tindall’s daughter, Colette is a graduate of Belleville High School and Michigan State University and recently moved to Washington, D.C. to live and work.
Her daughter, Aimee, is a graduate of BHS and is scheduled to report for basic training for the U.S. Army in November.
Tindall is a graduate of Ypsilanti High School and attended Washtenaw Community College for continuing education credits. She is not currently working.
Besides running successfully for City Council in 2009, she was elected three times to serve on her local union’s executive board as trustee (UAW).
Tindall is a former vice chairperson of the Belleville Parks and Recreation Commission and presently serves as a member of the executive board of the Belleville Area Council for the Arts, is a member of the Tri-Community Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), and is a member of the Belleville Area Historical Society.
She lists her hobbies as reading, watching sports, and hanging out with her dogs.
In response to the Independent’s question: “Why are you running for Council?” Tindall replied:
“I’m seeking re-election to Council because I would like to continue with the work that I have been doing with the City Council for the last four years. Though we have moved forward with improvements such as the new streetscape, the District Library and increased transparency and communication, we still have work to do. We need to continue to work closely with Van Buren Public Schools and with our neighbors in Van Buren and Sumpter townships and we need to continue to nurture our relationships with our local community organizations.
“I believe the relationships that I’ve built within the community help to put our City Council in an advantageous position to do this.”
As far as listing her goals, Tindall said:
“As Michigan continues to lose our youth to more flourishing locations, Belleville needs to continue to market ourselves as a destination; not only a destination to come and play, but a destination to come and stay.
“As we continue to provide a high quality of living, we keep the great folks that already live here while enticing new residents and businesses as well. It’s really a big circle — more business, residents and visitors increase the tax base; the increased revenue allows us to provide high quality services; high quality services bring increased businesses, residents and visitors. We accomplish this by continuing to provide a high quality of living and continue to work together to highlight the advantages of our beautiful City.”
By Rosemary K. Otzman