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.