(Photo: Wiki­media)

Fol­lowing City Coun­cilman Brian Watkins’ res­ig­nation at a March 5 city council meeting, Hillsdale res­i­dents Ted Jansen and Dennis Wain­scott are preparing to face off for the vacancy left by Watkins in his Ward 1 council seat.

Watkins’ emailed his res­ig­nation to Council, stating that his job as a trav­elling public rela­tions officer for Toyota is “no longer allowing me to provide the con­nected and engaged rep­re­sen­tation the cit­izens of Ward 1 need or deserve.” Since the beginning of his 2015 term, Watkins rou­tinely missed council meetings — as excused absences — due to a work and travel con­flicts.

Watkins’ seat will remain vacant for the remainder of spring and through the summer. Any Ward 1 res­ident seeking to fill it can apply through a petition available at the City Clerk’s office. An election will occur in November. If more people than Jansen and Wain­scott file the petition, a primary election will be held in August to narrow the ballot down to two can­di­dates.

Jansen has already filed the petition, hoping to secure the spot both he and Wain­scott lost to Coun­cilman Greg Stuchell in this past November’s election.

Jansen said in an email that he still sup­ports his posi­tions from his pre­vious cam­paign, including con­tinued emphasis on Hillsdale’s downtown, increased open to new busi­nesses like Meijer, and con­tinued focus on fixing the city’s roads and infra­structure.

Wain­scott is also planning to file the petition later this week. Like Jansen, Wain­scott lost to Stuchell in the last election. Although this loss dis­ap­pointed him, Wain­scott said he has been impressed with Stuchell’s presence on Council.

“I couldn’t have asked for someone better,” Wain­scott said. “Stuchell stands up for what he believes.”

Wain­scott said if elected, he would hope to do the same.

“I don’t want to be a dependent. I want to be an asset,” he said.

As a retired auto parts store manager and an active min­ister, Wain­scott said he believes that he has the makings of an asset for City Council. For the past three years, he has been a fre­quent par­tic­ipant in public dis­cussion at council and com­mittee meetings. According to his memory, he has missed only two council in the past year, one because of his wedding anniversary and the other because of illness.

If elected, Wain­scott said he would focus on fiscal respon­si­bility and ensuring that the city’s general fund is pro­vi­sioned to deal with an emer­gency if it should arise. Addi­tionally, Wain­scott said he wants to help the city con­tinue to advance its infra­structure projects.

“I’m thankful that my street is one of the streets that is being repaired this year, but there are many other streets in need of repair,” he said. “With the people on council right now, I believe we can do it, and I’d like to be part of that.”

Above all, Wain­scott said his goal is to raise people from depen­dency to inde­pendent and self-sus­tained living.

“I believe that working with city and on council, I can be better equipped to reach out and help the people that need it,” he said.