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.