One of the proposed designs for the City of Hillsdale logo. City of Hillsdale

Hillsdale residents will decide whether to keep Mayor Scott Sessions or replace him with City Councilman Adam Stockford on Tuesday.

Voters should ask themselves three key questions: Has the City of Hillsdale seen improvement under the mayor’s leadership? Is there a plan in place that addresses citizens’ concerns and aids the city’s growth? And could the challenger do better at raising the standard of living in Hillsdale?

The first question can be answered in part by looking at the city’s economic growth. More than 58 small businesses have opened in Hillsdale within the past five years, many of which were funded through federal grants. Not all have stayed open, but some — like Handmade Sandwiches and Beverages and Rough Draft Coffee and Cocktails — are still thriving. Both candidates are in favor of using federal grants such as those from the Tax Increment Finance Authority. This is a slippery slope, however, for businesses that often find it hard to maintain foot traffic — when the federal funding runs out, they are hard-pressed to stay open.

The drug epidemic must also be addressed. The majority of patients Hillsdale Hospital sees on a daily basis have methamphetamine or opioid-related issues, according to Shirley Curtis, emergency department manager at Hillsdale Hospital. The city has seen more than four heroin-related deaths in the past two years, and statistically, the problem appears to be getting worse. Residents are right to expect the leadership to provide a safer and better community — tackling this problem needs to be a priority.

In regards to the second question: No mayor could have solved all of Hillsdale’s problems in four years. But a coherent, effective plan to give Hillsdale a brighter future is vital, and the mayor needs to be at its head.

Many residents continue to vocalize concerns about issues that affect their day-to-day lives, such as deteriorating roads and job availability. The mayor needs to take an active role in listening to these concerns, and then act on them.

To answer the third question, the quality of life in Hillsdale is far from what it should be. The city’s poverty rate is dismal, with 37.5 percent of residents living below the poverty level — compared to the state’s 20.2 percent, according to the State of Michigan. Both candidates have shown an emphatic desire to fix this, but residents must decide who is better suited to lead the charge.

The City of Hillsdale is in need of strong and effective leadership. On Tuesday, residents have the opportunity to elect a mayor that will provide this. If Hillsdale’s growth is to continue, citizens from every corner of the city must pull together and make it happen.

  • Ellsworth_Toohey

    Can you please cite those figures you are using for poverty levels? The only reference I can find for 20.2% is children, as a whole Michigan’s poverty rate is ~15%

    The city itself according to the census bureau is showing a poverty rate of 30.9%,hillsdalecitymichigan,US/PST045216

    Still big and unacceptable numbers.

  • Penny Swan

    Adam Stockford is the only one who is talking bout not depending on grant money in the long term. He talks about getting more factories and industries back, to make Hillsdale a self sustaining town again, and not needing grant money.

  • Ellsworth_Toohey

    I can help you with a few of the questions:

    —Has the City of Hillsdale seen improvement under the mayor’s leadership?

    When I moved here in 2002 the poverty rate was 10%, it’s now either 31% or 37.5% depending on who’s numbers you wish to believe.

    And in fact your own Collegian last year reported on the trajectory of the General fund, if it continued, would bottom out (be -0-) by 2020. While some in the city questioned the cities own report, the fact remains that this consistent downward trend started when Mayor Sessions was first elected to council…and has not reversed itself. Indeed, Sessions was only able to balance last years budget by both doing massives cuts and forcing through a $300,000 tax increase… that the voters has no say in. Hardly sustainable.

    —“Is there a plan in place that addresses citizens’ concerns and aids the city’s growth?”

    Grants, grants and more grants. Oh and a bit of Cronyism

    —“And could the challenger do better at raising the standard of living in Hillsdale?”
    —” but some — like Handmade Sandwiches and Beverages and Rough Draft Coffee and Cocktails — are still thriving.”

    I’m just shaking my head here. Does the collegian think taxpayer handouts for grants for Coffee Shops are going to make a lick of difference to the average citizen? If Keynesian economics is going to be practiced, it must be practiced properly and that is with a goal of maximizing ROI for the economy as a whole. Simply grabbing every handout from the goverment isn’t the way to do it.

    You say both candidates are for grants…. perhaps that’s true but there is such a wide latitude in that statement it’s laughable. Under the Sessions administrations grants have largely gone to service and retail industries, the tail of the dog if you will. 12 years ago, under the Ingles administration, Mr. Stockford’s Stepfather, they also took MEDC grants… grants that attracted light industry from out of state, that instead of shifting money locally, generated wealth and brought money into the county.,4584,7-212-57648_21974-130412–,00.html

    Mr. Ingles was a businessman, just as his stepson Mr. Stockford is. The grant for Cobra motorycle resulted in ~40 jobs being created, higher paying jobs, jobs that are still there. For a $380K grant. The collegians Coffee Shop… was the end result of a $785K MEDC grant + $300K or so in abatements. And MEDC themselves only predicts that 3 full time jobs will come at that… minimum wage likely.

    So yes, both candidates want to take grants. But there is a world of difference in the results they will generate.

  • disqus_odKVC5cL1k

    Really, the success examples are under a year old? Where are the 5 year old businesses? I see longstanding businesses, doing ok not great, and a revolving door of new companies, much in retail.

    Manufacturing or tech are the only things that will bring the area out of the slump. Tech will be a hard to impossible sell, manufacturing may work, but competing for a remarkably small pool of talent will drive up costs, and getting skilled workers in will be hard, potentially less so than tech, but still hard.

    The drugs are a symptom of no real hope. When you feel stuck, and nothing will go your way, you go looking for an escape. If you have an abundance of opportunity, drugs become less attractive.