Hillsdale res­ident Penny Swan plans to run against Patrick Flannery in the Ward for election for this November. | Wiki­media Commons

Hillsdale res­ident Penny Swan, who has only missed one city council meeting in the last three years, has plans to run for city council in Ward 4 this November.

Swan said she wants cit­izens to feel good about local gov­ernment and that, cur­rently, res­i­dents do not feel they have a voice because the council is swayed by the hos­pital, the college, and big busi­nesses. A self-pro­claimed ‘real citizen without an agenda,’ Swan said she aims to combat local gov­ernment apathy by attending meetings, forming groups, sharing infor­mation, and being active on social media.

Patrick Flannery, one of the two current rep­re­sen­ta­tives, will finish his first term in 2017, but has yet to announce whether he will run. He could not be reached for comment at print.

Swan adopted the “It’s the People” slogan from the sign debate last fall as her mission statement for her cam­paign, a way of demon­strating to voters that she aims to reopen the council to the people.

“The college is a part of what makes ‘It’s the People,’” Swan said.

In approving the new signs that read “His­toric Hillsdale: Home of Hillsdale College” quickly rather than cor­rectly, however, she said the college shut the people out.

While a fan of the free con­certs and plays, Swan said the college could do more for the city, espe­cially since it makes use of municipal ser­vices like streets and fire engines without paying taxes on some of its property. The college pays property tax on non-college prop­erties that fulfill the college’s mission.

Swan also pledges to “take a hard look at every penny,” already taking it upon herself to read the some­times-175-page pro­posals the city council puts together. In par­ticular, she dis­agrees with the the decision of the city of Hillsdale’s tax increment finance authority (TIFA) to pur­chase the Dawn Theater and the Keefer House.

“We can’t fix the streets, so why are we spending money on dilap­i­dated buildings?” she said.

According to Jeff King, Swan’s focus on eco­nomics is a step in the right direction for a council that has been dis­tracted for the last six to seven years. King is a res­ident of Hillsdale County who knows Swan through political and civic involvement.

He said Swan will focus on the projects the council will take on that sound good but may cost more.

“They’re boring but they make the town survive,” he said.

He also said Swan rec­og­nizes that one of Hillsdale’s most important issues is its economy, which needs a sound indus­trial base fol­lowing the damage NAFTA did in the last 20 years.

“The whole college debate is a side-show,” he said. “It’s not so much the college that’s the problem — it’s a great thing to have, but it can’t support a com­munity.”

He said he aligns with her gen­erally con­ser­v­ative, limited gov­ernment ideas, and even though the council is tech­ni­cally non­par­tisan, he wants to see his opinions rep­re­sented on a polit­i­cally divided council.

“When it comes to the local economy, hard, tough deci­sions will have to be made as to the direction of the town,” he said. “Penny is a good person to help those deci­sions. It’s not going to be easy or popular, but they have to be made.”