I thought it worthwhile to include these questions posed by MLive.com and my responses as a way of providing more insight into my approach to the issues facing Ypsilanti – John Gawlas
Q: What do you consider the most important issues that need to be addressed?
Redevelopment of commercial and industrial property within the city is critical to increasing the tax base. To encourage investment in our community, we must reduce barriers and seek out tools to assist private sector partners in achieving highest and best use of existing industrial and commercial properties. We should certainly maintain our certification in the Redevelopment Ready Communities program of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance. The city must be at the forefront of economic development efforts in eastern Washtenaw County, leveraging the SPARK East incubator and pushing for greater county commitment to a regional transportation model. Long term sustainability for the City of Ypsilanti will require effective collaboration with neighboring communities to safeguard and enhance public safety. The recently completed feasibility study for a regional police authority was an important first step. Of course, the fiscal challenges facing all communities in Michigan point to the dysfunctional model of municipal finance in our state. Revenue sharing must be established as a priority while identifying additional regional options for funding transportation.
Q: What makes you uniquely qualified for the position?
I have been an active community member who has built relationships with the business community, economic development entities, non-profit organizations, volunteer and neighborhood groups. My experience has provided me a broad perspective and afforded greater understanding of how the collaborative process can increase achievement. Having served on numerous boards and committees, I also know how difficult the process can sometimes be to develop trust and consensus. It takes time to comprehend the eccentricity within municipal finance and the manner in which the local, state and federal governments interact. This oftentimes defies simple solutions, requiring one to embrace highly creative approaches to achieve success. In this context, experience in government is an asset that aids in the understanding of how to address complex issues. For over a decade, I have interacted with public officials within this county and throughout the state sharing our successes and failures. It is this knowledge base from which I draw when considering the issues facing my own community
Q: What else do you want voters to know about you?
I have committed a great deal of time to public service but also struggle with the priorities of being a parent. That has taught me significant lessons about patience, honesty, empathy and communication in establishing relationships. I take my role as an elected representative seriously and recognize that criticism or disagreement is a necessary component in honest governance.