monster beats by dr. dre pro headphones Ward 3 candidates Kate Flores and Patrick O’Donnell want to boost education
Kate Flores and Patrick O’Donnell(Photo: Provided)Battle Creek’s schools may not be under the purview of the City Commission, but education is nonetheless an area that both Ward 3 candidates want to impact where they can.
Incumbent Kate Flores and newcomer Patrick O’Donnell both think the key to boosting economic development is ensuring that the city’s students get the education they need and deserve.
Flores works as a project development manager for EARTH University Foundation. She was executive director for Voces from 2008 through 2015. She’s active at Post Franklin Elementary and has experience as a community education coordinator for Legal Services of South Central Michigan. She is also a member of the city’s Human Relations Board. She wouldbe serving her second term ifreelected.
O’Donnell is a technician with CTS Telecom Inc. and a part time official for Battle Creek Parks and Recreation. Though this would be his first time as city commissioner, he has had experience with other leadership boards. He is a trustee for Kellogg Community College and volunteers with various organizations in Battle Creek.
It’s likely because of both of their experiences being rooted in education that education is one of the issues that Flores and O’Donnell want to impact as commissioner.
Flores thinks this will happen through partnering with Battle Creek Public Schools.
“I believe that education is really key to neighborhood development,” she said. “Obviously we don’t oversee education, but I think it’s very important. They’re interconnected with our education system.”
Specific to her ward, she talked about how buildings can be better re purposed, referencing the closing of Freemont Elementary School as an example.
O’Donnell tied the education situation to the issue of tax abatements, explaining that an educated workforce will draw in businesses. He gave Kellogg Community College’s Regional Manufacturing Technology Center as an example.
“It’s not only tax abatements,” he said. “We want to make sure they have a good relationship with the city, saying, ‘We like it because you have educated people in the area that want to work.'”
Both candidates also had concerns about tax abatements.
“The city needs jobs, and sometimes we have to lure prospective businesses into town by allowing some tax abatements,” O’Donnell said. “But they need to be following the proper rules of what we give them. If they say they’re going to provide jobs and they’re gonna be here for a number of years and we give them the money, they better follow that.”
“It’s an area where I have a lot of mixed feelings, and I won’t lie, I’ve struggled in the last two years on the issue of tax abatements,” Flores said. “What I really think is important is that we’re looking comprehensively and assessing our economic development strategies and being really clear what our different strategies are and how much we’re investing in those and to what extent they’re fair.”
In particular, Flores is hoping for a reassessment of the criteria for granting abatements and that discussion will happen before the next abatement comes up.
Flores attributes the diversity of Ward 3to why the fair housing is an important issue to her. A community partnered process is how she thinks the solution can be found, with the Battle Creek community and the real estate community.
“I personally think that this is exactly the kind of issue that we as a city and we as commissioners should be talking about,” she said. “It’s historic. It’s how our city is laid out.”
O’Donnell, on the other hand, believes that officials who enforce fair housing laws needto be involved, especially if anything illegal has been happening.
“Lately there’s been in the news about racial inequalities for fair housing for everyone,” he said. “And if there is, we need to investigate it and take care of what the problem is, but no one should be denied fair and decent housing in the city of Battle Creek.”
The candidatealso sees infrastructure is an important issue for the city as a whole and for Ward 3. O’Donnell listed an underfunded sewer system, beautification of neighborhoods and an adequate police force as things that the commission needs to keep in mind moving forward.
Both candidateswant to see the City Commission focus more on the future.
“I’d like to see the City Commission be more proactive,” Flores said. “What I mean by that is we have a strategic planning process where we set the goals for the city manager. I think the City Commission has the opportunity to do that ourselves. I think there’s opportunity for more self reflection around how we do things, around how we embody some of the initiatives and values that we hold, how are we leading by example.”
“I look at a problem ata different angle,” O’Donnell said. “I don’t play the if/then games. Iplay the solution person. Let’s find a solution. We need to worry about getting problems solved. I’m not a person that likes a lot of talk on things. If there’s something that needs to be tweaked, we’ll tweak it while we’re working on the solution and not wait.”
Those elected to the nine person commission on Nov. 7 will each serve a three year term. Commissioners are paid $200 for each City Commission meeting they attend.
Commissioners typically serve two years, but the city is using the longer term to move itselections to even numbered years to save money and try to boost voter turnout.